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Information Technology - The First Two Million Years (Part 1)


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A meander through the evolution of information and communication technology, from prehuman times to the advent of the printing press. (Part 2 will cover subsequent eras). Topics cover include primate communication, fire, body art, language, cave painting and stone age technocomplexes, different types of writing, the alphabet, the printing press and much inbetween.

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Information Technology - The First Two Million Years (Part 1)

  1. 1. Information Technology The first two million years
  2. 2. 2,000,000 BCE
  3. 3. Homo HeidelbergensisHomo neanderthalensis Homo sapiens
  4. 4. 1,760,000 BCE Turkana ✦First evidence of controlled use of fire
  5. 5. BODY ART
  6. 6. 300,000 BCE TWIN RIVERS ✦Over 3000 pigments ✦Brown, red, yellow, purple, blue, and pink ✦Show evidence of being ground to make powders
  7. 7. 115,000 BCE SKUHL CAVE ✦First evidence of jewellery ✦Shells with holes deliberately fashioned
  8. 8. 100,000 BCE MOUNT PRECIPICE ✦Evidence of burial ✦Boar jaw left on chest ✦Perforated beads, shells ✦(Where people of Nazareth tried to throw Jesus off a mountain)
  9. 9. Joshua Knobe, Finding the Mind in the Body “Focussing on the body leaves us thinking of the person as an animal. That is, it leaves us to think of the person as having more of the part of the mind we associate with animals (fear, pleasure, pain) and less of the part we regard as distinctively human (complex reasoning, planning, self control)” Why decorate your body?
  10. 10. Francis Fukuyama, The Origins of Political Order “Status seeking behaviour has become genetically coded for a wide variety of animals, including humans, and is associated with biochemical changes in the brains of those who compete for status.” Why decorate your body?
  11. 11. Alex Wright, Glut: Mastering information through the ages “Symbolic communication provided a networked communication platform that allowed more complex social and eventually political hierarchies to emerge” Why decorate your body?
  12. 12. In-group signifiers
  13. 13. Ibn Fadlan, 10th Century “Each man has an axe, a sword, and a knife and keeps each by him at all times. The swords are broad and grooved, of Frankish sort. Every man is tattooed from finger nails to neck with dark green (or green or blue-black) trees, figures, etc..”
  14. 14. 80,000 BCE BLOMBOS CAVES ✦Shell beads ✦“Ochre processing kits” ✦Example of “composite” technology. ✦One remarkable item…
  15. 15. 1980 (77,985 years later)
  16. 16. Mount St Helens (1980) VEI 4 - Cataclysmic
  17. 17. 1980 CE
  18. 18. Mount Tambora (1815) VEI 7 - Mega-colossal
  19. 19. 1815 CE
  20. 20. 1816 ✦ “Year without a summer” ✦ Dropped global temperatures by 0.4 to 0.7 °C ✦ "Dry fog" was observed in eastern U.S ✦ Sunspots could be seen with naked eye ✦ “Red snow” fell in Italy ✦ Famines in Europe led to death of 200,000 ✦ Led to social instability, food riots ✦ Cultural impact…
  21. 21. I had a dream, which was not all a dream. The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars Did wander darkling in the eternal space, Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air; Morn came and went-and came, and brought no day
  22. 22. TOBA EVENT
  23. 23. Toba (73,000 BCE) VEI 8 - Apocalyptic
  25. 25. ✦ 90% reduction in photosynthesis ✦ Ecosystem collapse ✦ Difficulty spotting prey, finding food ✦ Stars, sun, moon not visible ✦ Genetic bottleneck VOLCANIC WINTER
  26. 26. MIGRATION
  27. 27. DIASPORA
  28. 28. DIASPORA
  29. 29. "A divine couple who are bound together and separate to create heaven and earth, who are then mutilated and torn apart by their offspring, who use parts of the parent deity to create the landscape... Many myths in this constellation contain episodes of post flood incest, usually between brother and sister. " Peter Watson, The Great Divide
  30. 30. Ouranos & Gaia Arrival of Con Tiqui Viracocha Geb and Nut An and Ki Rangi and Papa SEPARATION Udan & The Golden Pillars “Castration of dad”
  31. 31. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.And God said, ‘Let there be light’” The Bible
  32. 32. Myth & Art The cognitive big bang
  33. 33. From The Mind in the Cave By David Lewis-Williams Waking, problem oriented thought Daydreaming Hypnagogia Dreaming Unconscious
  34. 34. shaman video
  35. 35. From The Mind in the Cave By David Lewis-Williams Waking, problem oriented thought Daydreaming Hypnagogia Dreaming Unconscious Entoptic phenomena Constral Hallucination
  36. 36. Type 1 Type 2 Type 3 Type 5Type 4
  37. 37. San rock painting Palaeolithic cave art
  38. 38. Interpreting natural symbols (“index”), like hoof prints Intentional communication Producing artefacts from material templates From The Prehistory of Mind By Steven Mitten Linguistic Intelligence Natural History Intelligence Technical Intelligence Social Intelligence GENERAL Intelligence
  39. 39. From The Prehistory of Mind By Steven Mitten Natural History Intelligence Technical Intelligence Social Intelligence GENERAL Intelligence
  40. 40. Physical World Human World Spiritual World Tracks Law Celestial objects Waterholes Sites Animals Rocks & Trees Atemporality Punishment Care of environment Stories Healing (seeing the future) Singing, dancing & storytelling TotemsFamily relationships People Art & pictographs Rules of behaviour, secrecy
  41. 41. "In the often hostile landscape of Australia, the transmission of Dreamtime myths through the generations must have saved many lives, since the stories provide the equivalent of an outback sat-nav, leading people to waterholes, food, shelter and natural resources like stone and pigment." Chris Stringer, The Origin of our Species
  42. 42. Aboriginal pictographs Honey ant Witchetty Grubb Kangaroo Emu
  43. 43. Aboriginal pictographs Meeting place Paths between camps Stream between waterholes
  44. 44. “Genealogy provides the ideal classifcatory tool, for it narrates a sequence of actions. It thus sustains the tradition while, at the same time, subjecting it to hierarchical ordering that clarifies the nature of various figures. When Gods are considered, genealogy becomes a means of understanding the cosmos... when mortals are considered, it becomes an encyclopaedic framework for historical and geographical as well as social information.” " Holbart and Schiffmann
  45. 45. WRITING Encoding knowledge in external media
  46. 46. "Speech, the universal way in which humans communicate and transmit experiences, fades instantly: before a word is pronounced it has already vanished forever. Writing, the first technology to make the spoken word permanent, changed the human condition." Denise Schmant-Besserat, How Writing Came About
  47. 47. “The Eridu temple was the symbol of a community who believed in, perhaps one might say invented - the ideology of progress. The idea that it was possible and desirable to continually improve what had gone before… The divine power celebrated and honoured here was the expression, embodiment and personification of that idea: No less than the God or Goddess of civilisation. ” Paul Kriwaczed, Babylon
  49. 49. Man Woman EARLY CUNEIFORM
  51. 51. EARLY CUNEIFORM Head Bread
  53. 53. EARLY CUNEIFORM Hat Secret Rage
  54. 54. “The complex social and political changes that took place in Mesopotamia in the late Uruk period, represent a quantum leap of unprecedented dimensions.” Professor Piotr Michaelowski
  55. 55. Evolution of Cuneiform 3200 BCE 3000 BCE 2400 BCE 1000 BCE
  56. 56. “Before 2600 BCE it was capable of enumerating lists and transmitting simple commands. It had now however communicate a sophisticated narrative or allow rulers to transmit highly detailed commands.” Denise Schmant-Besserat, How Writing Came About Evolution of Cuneiform
  57. 57. 2334-2279 BCE
  58. 58. hammurabi 1900-1600 BCE
  59. 59. hammurabi 1900-1600 BCE
  60. 60. Circle Rectangle
  61. 61. Plate, Sieve, Moon, Bucket Door, house, mirror
  62. 62. code of hammurabi
  63. 63. “Armed with a vast arsenal of recorded information about governance, military strategy, weapon making, agriculture, mathematics, and other topics, the empire stood poised to dominate the region.” Alex Wright, Glut
  64. 64. 668-627 BCE
  65. 65. 668-627 BCE
  66. 66. Subtitle Qin Shi Huang
  67. 67. “For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them.” Plato (as Socrates)
  68. 68. Subtitle
  69. 69. 117 CE
  70. 70. Before the space After the space
  71. 71. “Romance of the Rose" “Book of common prayer”
  72. 72. Printing The medieval bittorrent
  73. 73. ✦Bookbinding / Codex (500 - 700 CE) ✦Industrialisation of paper manufacture (from China via the Middle East and Spain) ✦Developments in mining technology ✦Metallurgy (soft metals like antimone) Precursors to print
  74. 74. 1455 CE
  75. 75. “ They shamelessly print, at a negligible price, material which may, alas, inflame impressionable youths, while a true writer dies of hunger… They persist in their sick vices, setting Tibullus in type, while a young girl reads Ovid to learn sinfulness… they encourage wantoness, and swallow up huge gain from it.” Filippo de Strata, 1474 CE
  76. 76. “Writing indeed, which brings in gold for us, should be respected and held to be nobler than all goods, unless she has suffered degradation in the brothel of the printing presses. She is a maiden with a pen, a harlot in print.” Filippo de Strata, 1474 CE
  77. 77. 1522 CE
  78. 78. The cognitive schism
  79. 79. 1543 CE
  80. 80. 1622 CE
  81. 81. To be concluded