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Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages

by Alex Wright Cornell University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 296 pages
AU$52.99 NZ$56.51
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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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.

Alex Wright delivers a fascinating tour of the many ways that humans have collected, organized, and shared information to show how the information age started long before microchips or movable type.”-Publishers Weekly

“This stimulating book offers much opportunity to reflect on the nature and long history of information management as a damper to the panic or the elation we may variously feel as we face ever greater scales of information overload.”-Nature

“Glut is a penetrating and highly entertaining meditation on our information age and its historical roots. Alex Wright argues that now is the time to take a hard look at how we have communicated with one another since coming down from the trees, because the way we organize knowledge determines much about how we live.”-Los Angeles Times Book Review

"We have no idea how to handle the upcoming explosion of information. I found Alex Wright's quick, clear history of past methods for managing oceans of information to be a handy clue to where we are going. He introduces you to an ecosystem of information organizations far more complex and interesting than the mere 'search' tool."

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. His Web site may be found at