At a joint press conference in Berlin earlier today, President Obama and Germany Chancellor Angela Markel blamed the internet and digitizationon making a “clash of cultures” more direct and instilling uncertainty in people about their identities and economic security.Merkel suggested the internet and digitization would have to be regulated like the printing press or industrialization in order to limit its disruptive effects. “It led to enormous transformational processes within individual societies,” Merkel noted. “It took a while until societies learned how to find the right kind of policies to contain this and to manage and steer this,” Merkel said.The printing press was easily the most disruptive technology in the history of Western civilization. Since its invention in the 1440s and subsequent widespread use, the ability to mass produce printed material has helped foment social and political revolutions around the world. The printing press created the opportunity for communication on a scale never seen before. It helped populations around the world to self-radicalize—it’s hard to imagine how the American revolution could have been sustained without a printing press and the ability that provided for colonists to share stories about imperial outrage and to convince each other of the necessity of revolution through pamphlets like Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.