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Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages (2007)

de Alex Wright

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5101039,194 (3.52)1
What do primordial bacteria, medieval alchemists, and the World Wide Web have to do with each other? This fascinating exploration of how information systems emerge takes readers on a provocative journey through the history of the information age. Today's "information explosion" may seem like an acutely modern phenomenon, but we are not the first generation--nor 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. Today, we stand at a precipice, as our old systems struggle to cope with what designer Richard Saul Wurman called a "tsunami of data." With some historical perspective, however, we can begin to understand our predicament not just as the result of technological change, but as the latest chapter in an ancient story that we are only beginning to understand. Spanning disciplines from evolutionary theory and cultural anthropology to the history of books, libraries, and computer science, writer and information architect 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 World Wide Web. Finally, he pulls these threads together to reach a surprising conclusion, suggesting that the future of the information age may lie deep in our cultural past.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 10 (següent | mostra-les totes)
"To counter the “billions of pixels” that have been spent on the rise of the seemingly unique World Wide Web, journalist and information architect Wright delivers a fascinating tour of the many ways that humans have collected, organized, and shared information for “more than 100,000 years” to show how the information age started long before microchips or movable type."

Publishers Weekly, Joseph Henry ( )
  Kayla1318 | Mar 6, 2021 |
Slow start but worth sticking with. Took awhile to get throught but I'm glad I did. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
Wright presents an interesting narrative, blending ideas from a range of disciplines. On the one hand, it's a smooth overview of the development of information management -- mainly from a library science viewpoint. On the other hand, some nicely evocative connections to spur further thought. Organized chronologically, the book seems weakest in regard to modern and future trends. ( )
  Michael.McGuire | May 22, 2014 |
-from folk categorization to internet design ( )
  mykl-s | Aug 28, 2013 |
Wright's beautifully written book, Glut is the right book for you. Among other things, this book is a deeper exploration of the rich history of traditional information revolutions and how networks and hierarchies have co-existed for millennia mutually shaping each other. As Wright notes, the contributions of librarians from Callimachus (Library of Alexandria) in the 3rd Century BC to Cutter and Dewey in the 19th Century to Paul Otlet (the Mundaneum) and Eugene Garfield (precursor of bibliometrics and page ranking), in the 20th century A.D. to the present information organisation systems including the web has been phenomenon. The stories are fascinating.

Central to Wright's discussion is the role of libraries and librarians who contributed greatly such as Paul Otlet, who as Wright persuasively argues, envisioned today's web in the 1930's, well before Vannavar Bush. Wright discusses in great detail how Otlet's contributions could be on par with that of Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson, all forbearers to Tim Berners-Lee's web. Important in this regard is the part of the discussion in the book on how Otlet came to conclude that catalogues and indexes available at the time could only guide the reader "as far as the individual book" but not to the relationship of the contents in other books; then Otlet saw the possibility of creating semantic links between documents (the "réseau").

The book is an important read for information architects, librarians and anyone interested about the web. It main contention is that hierarchies (traditional information organisation systems such as taxonomies) vis-à-vis networks (traditional tribal folk-categorisation systems and today's folksonomies) are not in opposition. Instead, as Wright argues, they complement each other. I think it is an interesting balance between ontologies and web 2.0 approaches. ( )
  getaneha | Jan 16, 2012 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 10 (següent | mostra-les totes)
"To counter the “billions of pixels” that have been spent on the rise of the seemingly unique World Wide Web, journalist and information architect Wright delivers a fascinating tour of the many ways that humans have collected, organized, and shared information for “more than 100,000 years” to show how the information age started long before microchips or movable type."
 
"Alex Wright has written a fascinating account of the history of our attempts to organize and manage information and one that hints at even bigger issues than the one he has chosen to address. ... [I]t conveys that truth that much of what is presented today as novel is, in fact, as old as the hills."
 
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What do primordial bacteria, medieval alchemists, and the World Wide Web have to do with each other? This fascinating exploration of how information systems emerge takes readers on a provocative journey through the history of the information age. Today's "information explosion" may seem like an acutely modern phenomenon, but we are not the first generation--nor 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. Today, we stand at a precipice, as our old systems struggle to cope with what designer Richard Saul Wurman called a "tsunami of data." With some historical perspective, however, we can begin to understand our predicament not just as the result of technological change, but as the latest chapter in an ancient story that we are only beginning to understand. Spanning disciplines from evolutionary theory and cultural anthropology to the history of books, libraries, and computer science, writer and information architect 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 World Wide Web. Finally, he pulls these threads together to reach a surprising conclusion, suggesting that the future of the information age may lie deep in our cultural past.

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