Segments in this Video

Verbal Communication (01:42)


Our ability to receive, understand, and communicate information shaped human history. Instant knowledge wins wars, creates knowledge, and protects our health. Humans developed complex language 150,000 years ago—allowing us to share information.

Written Communication (02:45)

Writing emerged 5,000 years ago in present-day Iraq. It facilitated resource management, record keeping, and power over the populace in complex civilizations like Ancient Egypt, where scribes controlled data and plans.

Alphabet (03:03)

Phoenician traders needed an adaptable way to keep records. Unlike hieroglyphs, the alphabet contained characters representing sounds. Information became accessible to classes across society. In 587 B.C., Jewish communities used the alphabet to record history and religious beliefs.

Printing Press (03:31)

In Germany in 1439, bibles were rare and expensive. Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type to mass produce books and make knowledge widely available. The technology launched a printing revolution, increased literacy rates, and enabled ideas to spread.

Ideas and the American Revolution (03:52)

In Boston in 1770, many early settlers were literate and read about equality and freedom. Discontent grew under British rule, leading to violence and rebellion. Written information empowered people around world to create their destinies.

Stopping a Genocide (02:46)

In the Congo, Belgian overseers tortured and killed slaves working on rubber plantations; 10 million people died in 15 years. In 1905, British missionary Alice Harris used photography to expose atrocities, forcing Belgium to withdraw.

Broadcast Media and Social Change (03:18)

Film and television became a tool for spreading information and fighting injustice. In Selma, Alabama in 1965, journalists filmed police beating African-Americans marching for voting rights—forcing the government to act. The internet continues to spread ideas and facilitate revolution. (Credits)

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Information Is Power

Part of the Series : Mankind Decoded
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $99.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $149.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $99.95



Communication is the vital ingredient in building civilization. The ability to share complicated ideas allowed early man to hunt, farm and create communities. This documentary covers the development of written language and the alphabet; far reaching political consequences of the printing press; and how photography and film bring about social justice. It also includes discussions about information empowering American colonial settlers to rebel against British rule, and images of atrocities forcing an end to genocide in the Belgian Congo.

Length: 22 minutes

Item#: BVL130780

Copyright date: ©2013

Closed Captioned

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