The Information Age, 100 years on
The rise of the computer and the digital revolution is responsible for an explosion of devices, data, and connectedness. These are all enabling what is called the dawning of the Information Age. And software designers, developers, and architects all share an important responsibility for shaping and guiding the world’s progress through this axial age into the future.
However, more than 100 years ago, the work of organizing the world’s information into a single all-encompassing taxonomy had already begun. Partially influenced by the positivist doctrine of Auguste Comte, leading thinkers of the early 20th century such as the librarian Paul Otlet in Belgium, museum curator Patrick Geddes in Scotland, and educator Melvil Dewey in the US were each working to design universal classification systems that would encompass and coordinate the explosion of information appearing in libraries, museums, newspapers, magazines, and eventually even radio, movies, and television.
What did we learn in the last century? What have we forgotten? How does their work affect our current trajectory in transforming the work of software and systems design and development? What can we take from Dewey, Otlet, and Geddes with us in to the next 100 years of the Information Age.