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The Deep History of the Information Age

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Presentation from a talk given via videoconference at the TEDx 2010 conference in Warwick, UK.

Published in: Technology, Lifestyle
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The Deep History of the Information Age

  1. 1. The Deep History of the Information Age <ul><li>Alex Wright </li></ul><ul><li>alex@agwright.com | www.alexwright.org </li></ul>
  2. 3. <ul><li>Some people dismiss taxonomies as .... a kind of glorified stamp collecting. No view could be more false and more inappropriately arrogant. Taxonomies are reflections of human thought; they express our most fundamental concepts about the objects of our universe.” </li></ul><ul><li>- Stephen Jay Gould </li></ul>
  3. 5. Cat
  4. 6. Mammal Cat
  5. 7. Animal Mammal Cat
  6. 8. Animal Mammal Cat Tabby cat
  7. 9. Animal Mammal Cat Tabby cat Brown mackerel tabby domestic longhair
  8. 10. Animal Mammal Cat Tabby cat Brown mackerel tabby domestic longhair See also: Pets
  9. 11. Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Felidae Felis Catus Felis catus (“Cat”) Kingdom: Phylum: Class: Order: Family: Genus: Species:
  10. 13. Laptop
  11. 14. Personal computer Laptop
  12. 15. Computer Personal computer Laptop
  13. 16. Computer Personal computer Laptop Apple laptop
  14. 17. Computer Personal computer Laptop Apple laptop Apple Macbook Pro
  15. 18. Computer Personal computer Laptop Apple laptop Apple Macbook Pro See also: Mobile devices
  16. 19. Source: Berlin Name Description Example 1 Unique Beginner Highest level of inclusion Animals 2 Life Form First order of division, always “polytopic” Mammals 3 Generic Psychologically primary Cat 4 Specific Secondary name, usually involving a qualifier Tabby cat 5 Varietal Most granular level of description Brown mackerel tabby domestic longhair 6 “ Affiliate” class Horizontal or “meta” category Pets
  17. 24. “ When gods are considered, genealogy becomes a means of understanding the cosmos. When mortals are considered, it becomes an encyclopedic framework.” - Hobart and Schiffman
  18. 25. The Ice Age Information Explosion
  19. 28. Symbol networks <ul><li>Externalized displays of trust </li></ul><ul><li>Encoding status and social relationships </li></ul><ul><li>A “release from social proximity” </li></ul>
  20. 29. The Age of Alphabets
  21. 33. Alphabet networks <ul><li>Counting begets writing </li></ul><ul><li>Birth of the “knowledge bureau” </li></ul><ul><li>Schism between oral and literate cultures </li></ul>
  22. 34. cf. Ong Orality Literacy Additive Subordinative Aggregative Analytic Participatory Objective Situational Abstract
  23. 35. The Codex
  24. 39. The codex <ul><li>Portable, reproducible </li></ul><ul><li>Random access, pagination and indexing </li></ul><ul><li>Early mass production techniques </li></ul>
  25. 40. Gutenberg
  26. 43. Print networks <ul><li>Transition from hand-made manuscripts to standardized texts </li></ul><ul><li>Rise of secular literacy </li></ul><ul><li>Disruption of old institutional hierarchies </li></ul>
  27. 44. The Industrial Information Explosion
  28. 48. Industrial knowledge networks <ul><li>Steam-powered printing presses fuel rapid proliferation of published literature </li></ul><ul><li>Growing urban centers and public education creates growing demand for reading material </li></ul><ul><li>Rise of large-scale classification systems </li></ul>
  29. 49. The Post-Industrial Network
  30. 51. <ul><li>Facebook </li></ul>
  31. 57. Conclusions
  32. 58. <ul><li>Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages </li></ul><ul><li>by Alex Wright </li></ul><ul><li>http://alexwright.org/glut/ </li></ul>
  33. 59. Questions?
  34. 60. Thank you <ul><li>Alex Wright </li></ul><ul><li>alex@agwright.com | www.alexwright.org </li></ul>

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