cover image Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages

Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages

Alex Wright, . . Joseph Henry, $27.95 (286pp) ISBN 978-0-309-10238-4

T o 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. A self-described “generalist” who displays an easy familiarity with evolutionary biology and cultural anthropology as well as computer science and technology, Wright explores the many and varied roots of the Web, including how the structure of family relationships from Greek times, among others, has exerted a profound influence on the shape and structure of human information systems. He discusses how “the violent history of libraries” is the best lesson in how hierarchical systems collapse and give rise to new systems, and how “the new technology of the book” introduced the notion of random access to information. And he focuses on the work of many now obscure information-gathering pioneers such as John Wilkins and his “Universal Categories” and Paul Otlet, the Internet’s ”forgotten forefather,” who “anticipated many of the problems bedeviling the Web today.” (June)