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Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 9/1/2008
Publisher(s): Cornell Univ Pr


The "information explosion" may seem like an acutely modern phenomenon, but we are not the first generation-or even the first species-to wrestle with the problem of information overload. Long before the advent of computers, human beings were collecting, storing, and organizing information: from Ice Age taxonomies to Sumerian archives, Greek libraries to Dark Age monasteries. Spanning disciplines from evolutionary theory and cultural anthropology to the history of books, libraries, and computer science, Alex Wright weaves an intriguing narrative that connects such seemingly far-flung topics as insect colonies, Stone Age jewelry, medieval monasteries, Renaissance encyclopedias, early computer networks, and the Internet. Finally, he pulls these threads together to reach a surprising conclusion, suggesting that the future of the information age may lie deep in our past.

Author Biography

Alex Wright is a writer and information architect whose articles have appeared in publications including Salon, The Believer, The Christian Science Monitor, and Harvard Magazine. He has led information architecture projects for the New York Times, Harvard University, and the Long Now Foundation, among others

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Networks and Hierarchiesp. 5
Family Trees and the Tree of Lifep. 22
The Ice Age Information Explosionp. 39
The Age of Alphabetsp. 48
Illuminating the Dark Agep. 78
A Steam Engine of the Mindp. 99
The Astral Power Stationp. 122
The Encyclopedic Revolutionp. 143
The Moose That Roaredp. 152
The Industrial Libraryp. 165
The Web That Wasn'tp. 183
Memories of the Futurep. 230
John Wilkins's Universal Categoriesp. 239
Thomas Jefferson's 1783 Catalog of Booksp. 242
The Dewey Decimal Systemp. 245
S. R. Ranganathan's Colon Classificationp. 247
Acknowledgmentsp. 251
Notesp. 253
Indexp. 271
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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