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The Reinvention of Ink (work in progress)

What if there was a time machine to take us back into history at will—to any time and any place? Such a device already exists. It is called ink.

Only through ink do we know for certain what our forbearers thought, said, built, spent, wore, and sang. We also know where they sailed, what they saw, why they waged war, and how they worshiped. No other human artifact provides so complete a picture over so long a period of history.

Ink had twin beginnings half a world apart with simultaneous appearances in ancient Egypt and China around four-thousand years ago. In both parts of the world, hunting and food gathering were giving way to the first forms of agriculture. Improved food production and storage required record keeping. A society with surplus food soon had surplus time on its hands to engage in art, music, exploration, and other endeavors that eventually turned primitive societies into advanced civilizations.

We take ink for granted, yet the world is awash in it. It drips, leaks, and smears from the tips of pens. It squirts from the jets of desktop printers. It resides under the skin of those sporting tattoos, forms the barcodes that speed us through checkout lines, and thwarts counterfeiting by color shifting on the money in our billfolds.

First developed four-thousand years ago when agriculture necessitated recordkeeping of stored crops, ink soon advanced civilization by recording exploration, commerce, literature, art, music, religion, and science.

The Reinvention of Ink explores the remarkable odyssey of a simple substance that to this day remains the lifeblood of human civilization. The book weaves history and science together with the lives of the colorful characters that have left their mark on the world of ink.

INK also introduces readers to audacious counterfeiters and their dogged pursuers, innovative ink chemists, peerless cartographers, pen pioneers, and the visionaries shaping tomorrow’s world of ink.

By making the transmission of information easier, more detailed, more accurate, and more persuasive, ink has made the world what it is today. The Reinvention of Ink will forever change the way we think about ink.