It begins to look as if we might have been wrong. All those predictions driving us forward throughout history have brought us finally to the unexpected realisation that the future is, suddenly, no longer what it used to be. Oops.
Tagged with “networks” (7)
As usual, microbes led the way. Bacteria have swarmed in intense networks for 3.5 billion years. Then a hierarchical form emerged with the first nucleated cells that were made up of an enclosed society of formerly independent organisms.
That’s the pattern for the evolution of information, Alex Wright said. Networks coalesce into hierarchies, which then form a new level of networks, which coalesce again, and so on. Thus an unending series of information explosions is finessed.
In humans, classification schemes emerged everywhere, defining how things are connected in larger contexts. Researchers into “folk taxonomies” have found that all cultures universally describe things they care about in hierarchical layers, and those hierarchies are usually five layers deep.
Family tree hierarchies were accorded to the gods, who were human-like personalities but also represented various natural forces.
Starting 30,000 years ago the “ice age information explosion” brought the transition to collaborative big game hunting, cave paintings, and elaborate decorative jewelry that carried status information. It was the beginning of information’s “release from social proximity.”
5,000 years ago in Sumer, accountants began the process toward writing, beginning with numbers, then labels and lists, which enabled bureaucracy. Scribes were just below kings in prestige. Finally came written narratives such as Gilgamesh.
The move from oral culture to literate culture is profound. Oral is additive, aggregative, participatory, and situational, where literate is subordinate, analytic, objective, and abstract. (One phenomenon of current Net culture is re-emergence of oral forms in email, twittering, YouTube, etc.)
Wright honored the sequence of information-ordering visionaries who brought us to our present state. In 1883 Charles Cutter devised a classification scheme that led in part to the Library of Congress system and devised an apparatus of keyboard and wires that would fetch the desired book. H.G. Wells proposed a “world brain” of data and imagined that it would one day wake up. Teilhard de Chardin anticipated an “etherization of human consciousness” into a global noosphere.
The greatest unknown revolutionary was the Belgian Paul Otlet. In 1895 he set about freeing the information in books from their bindings. He built a universal decimal classification and then figured out how that organized data could be explored, via “links” and a “web.” In 1910 Otlet created a “radiated library” called the Mundameum in Brussels that managed search queries in a massive way until the Nazis destroyed the service. Alex Wright showed an astonishing video of how Otlet’s distributed telephone-plus-screen system worked.
Wright concluded with the contributions of Vannevar Bush (”associative trails” in his Memex system), Eugene Garfield’s Science Citation Index, the predecessor of page ranking. Doug Engelbart’s working hypertext system in the “mother of all demos.” And Ted Nelson who helped inspire Engelbart and Berners-Lee and who Wright considers “directly responsible for the generation of the World Wide Web.”
In 2020 there will be nearly 10 times as many Internet connected devices as there are human beings on this planet. The majority of these will not have web browsers. When it comes to the "Internet of Things", web designers and developers are uniquely placed to create, connect and produce innovative new ways for these devices to be used. We are used to mashing up disconnected data sets, playing with APIs and designing for constantly moving standards in order to create compelling digital user experiences. "Old school" engineers are struggling to keep pace due to long processes for product and service design but as web creators we understand the value of rapid prototyping, user feedback and quick iterations. As developers, we play daily with a bewildering array of technologies that span networks, servers and user interfaces. As designers, we understand the nature of beautiful but usable technology. These skills, and our innate understanding of how interconnectedness enhances and creates engaging user experiences, mean that web creators will be critical for the next generation of Internet enabled Things in our world. From a potplant that tweets when it needs water to crowd sourcing pollution data with sensors on people’s windows and visualising it on Google Maps these are the new boundaries of the web creator’s skills. Have you ever dreamt of sending your phone to the edge of space to take a picture of a country? Or how about a robot you can control via a web browser? By exploring examples of things in the wild right now and delving into practical guidance for for getting started, this session will demonstrate how easy it is for web designers and developers to build Internet connected and aware Things. Andrew Fisher is deeply passionate about technology and is constantly tinkering with and breaking something — whether it’s a new application for mobile computing, building a robot, deploying a cloud or just playing around with web tech. Sometimes he does some real work too and has been involved in developing digital solutions for businesses since the dawn of the web in Australia and Europe for brands like Nintendo, peoplesound, Sony, Mitsubishi, Sportsgirl and the Melbourne Cup. Andrew is the CTO for JBA Digital, a data agency in Melbourne Australia, where he focuses on creating meaning out of large, changing data sets for clients. Andrew is also the founder of Rocket Melbourne, a startup technology lab exploring physical computing and the Web of Things. Follow Andrew on Twitter: @ajfisher Licensed as Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/).
Spark presents a special hour of Marshall McLuhan-inspired programming called, Tomorrow Is Our Permanent Address, named after one of McLuhan’s own witty turns of phrase. Today marks the centenary of McLuhan’s birth, and what better way to celebrate than exploring the theories of a man who has been credited with predicting the future of technology.
Includes - Why The Medium is Still The Message - The Networked City - From Rare to Everywhere (and back again!) - The Googlization of Everything
September 27, 2005
Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, a Notre Dame University physics professor, explores the relationships of various kinds of complex networks from cells and epidemics, to the World Wide Web, with a bit of ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ in between. In accessible language and with humor, Barabasi explains how seemingly unrelated types of networks, for example corporations, social networks, living organisms, are more similar than previously thought. Albert-Laszlo Barabasi is the author of Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life.
YOCHAI BENKLER is the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard, and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Since the 1990s he has played a central part in characterizing the role of information commons and decentralized collaboration to innovation, information production, and freedom in the networked economy and society. His books include The Wealth of Networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom (Yale University Press 2006), which won academic awards in the disciplines of political science, sociology, and communications policy. His work is socially engaged, winning him the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award for 2007 and Public Knowledge’s IP3 Award in 2006, and has been called a “reveille for netizens" by The Times of London and “Internet utopianism for grown-ups” by The American Prospect. At the same time, his work is highly grounded in economics and business. Wealth of Networks was cited as “perhaps the best work yet about the fast moving, enthusiast-driven Internet” by the Financial Times and was named best business book about the future in 2006 by Strategy and Business. His work can be freely accessed at benkler.org. http://www.havenscenter.org/audio/yochai-benkler-freedom-power-networked-information-environment
Over the past several years, we’ve watched as a very wide variety of objects and surfaces familiar from everyday life have been reimagined as networked information-gathering, -processing, -storage and -display resources. Why should cities be any different?
What happens to urban form and metropolitan experience under such circumstances? What are the implications for us, as designers, consumers and as citizens?
Adam Greenfield lives in a city and thinks you probably do, too.