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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.