Alex Wright


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GLUT: Mastering Information Through the Ages

Expanded Bibliography


ABC: The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind
Barry Sanders, Ivan Illich (Vintage, May 1989)

An intense examination of the effects of technology on literacy and language. The authors argue that there is a phenomenon transforming modern culture--language is becoming part of a technology of "information systems" with an emphasis on control, rather than human exchange. As a result, all language is becoming debased.


The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist
F. B. M. De Waal (Basic Books, Dec 2001)

To watch apes dressed in human clothing and mimicking human manners--an old standby in films and television shows--can make some human viewers uncomfortable, writes the noted primatologist Frans de Waal. Somehow, by doing so, the apes are crossing some line in the sand, a line that speaks to issues of culture, which humans alone are presumed to have. Closely examining anthropocentric theories of culture, de Waal counterposes the notion of anthropodenial, "the a priori rejection of shared characteristics between humans and animals when in fact they may exist." Perhaps no human alive knows more about the great apes than does Frans de Waal. With this book, he ably shows that he knows a great deal about humans, too. Students of biology, culture, and communication will find much food for thought in his pages. "--Gregory McNamee"


Aristotle's Categories and Concerning Interpretation with Commentaries
Kenneth A. Telford (Global Publications at SUNY Binghampton University, Dec 2000)

These translations of Plato and Aristotle differ substantially from any prior translation of them because significant discoveries recently made about both the Greek language, and the procedural assumptions used by these authors. Not only are there now considerable differences in what they literally say, but there are even greater differences in the interpretation that can reasonably be made of what they say. For the text itself, debated for centuries, is now far more secure than ever before, for the procedure controlling it is now understood. Gratuitous textual problems, that resulted from conflicts in procedural assumptions between writer and translator, are now set aside. The understanding of Aristotle's' procedure has also occasioned a reexamination of the function of translation. For British scholarly customs, which dominated American scholarship as well, made untenable assumptions greatly obscuring ancient thought.


The Art of Memory
Frances A. Yates (University Of Chicago Press, Apr 2001)

One of Modern Library's 100 Best Nonfiction Books of the Twentieth Century

In this classic study of how people learned to retain vast stores of knowledge before the invention of the printed page, Frances A. Yates traces the art of memory from its treatment by Greek orators, through its Gothic transformations in the Middle Ages, to the occult forms it took in the Renaissance, and finally to its use in the seventeenth century. This book, the first to relate the art of memory to the history of culture as a whole, was revolutionary when it first appeared and continues to mesmerize readers with its lucid and revelatory insights.


Augmenting human intellect;: A conceptual framework
D. C Engelbart (Stanford Research Institute, Dec 1962)


Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together Again
Andy Clark (The MIT Press, Jan 1998)

Brain, body, and world are united in a complex dance of circular causation and extended computational activity. In "Being There", Andy Clark weaves these several threads into a pleasing whole and goes on to address foundational questions concerning the new tools and techniques needed to make sense of the emerging sciences of the embodied mind. Clark brings together ideas and techniques from robotics, neuroscience, infant psychology, and artificial intelligence. He addresses a broad range of adaptive behaviors, from cockroach locomotion to the role of linguistic artifacts in higher-level thought.


The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature
Steven Pinker (Penguin (Non-Classics), Aug 2003)

In "The Blank Slate", Steven Pinker, one of the world's leading experts on language and the mind, explores the idea of human nature and its moral, emotional, and political colorings. With characteristic wit, lucidity, and insight, Pinker argues that the dogma that the mind has no innate traits-a doctrine held by many intellectuals during the past century-denies our common humanity and our individual preferences, replaces objective analyses of social problems with feel-good slogans, and distorts our understanding of politics, violence, parenting, and the arts. Injecting calm and rationality into debates that are notorious for ax-grinding and mud-slinging, Pinker shows the importance of an honest acknowledgment of human nature based on science and common sense.


Brief History of Libraries and Librarianship in the West
Sidney Louis Jackson (McGraw-Hill, Dec 1974)


The Carolingians and the Written Word
Rosamond Mckitterick (Cambridge University Press, Jul 1989)

This pioneering book studies the function and status of the written word in Carolingian society in France and Germany in the eighth and ninth centuries. It demonstrates that literacy was by no means confined to a clerical élite, but was dispersed in lay society and used for government and administration, as well as for ordinary legal transactions among the peoples of the Frankish kingdom. While employing a huge range of primary material, the author does not confine herself to a functional analysis of the written word in Carolingian northern Europe but goes on to assess the consequences and implications of literacy for the Franks themselves and for the subsequent development of European society after 1000.


The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual
Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, David Weinberger (Perseus Books Group, Dec 2001)

How would you classify a book that begins with the salutation, "People of Earth..."? While the captains of industry might dismiss it as mere science fiction, "The Cluetrain Manifesto" is definitely of this day and age. Aiming squarely at the solar plexus of corporate America, authors Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger show how the Internet is turning business upside down. They proclaim that, thanks to conversations taking place on Web sites and message boards, and in e-mail and chat rooms, employees and customers alike have found voices that undermine the traditional command-and-control hierarchy that organizes most corporate marketing groups. "Markets are conversations," the authors write, and those conversations are "getting smarter faster than most companies." In their view, the lowly customer service rep wields far more power and influence in today's marketplace than the well-oiled front office PR machine. While "Cluetrain" will strike many as loud and over the top, the message itself remains quite relevant and unique. This book is for anyone interested in the Internet and e-commerce, and is especially important for those businesses struggling to navigate the topography of the wired marketplace. All aboard! "--Harry C. Edwards"


The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing 1450-1800
Lucien Febvre, Henri-Jean Martin (Verso, Dec 1997)

Books, and the printed word more generally, are aspects of modern life that are all too often taken for granted. Yet the emergence of the book was a process of immense historical importance and heralded the dawning of the epoch of modernity. In this much praised history of that process, Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin mesh together economic and technological history, sociology and anthropology, as well as the study of modes of consciousness, to root the development of the printed word in the changing social relations and ideological struggles of Western Europe.


Computer Lib/Dream Machines
Theodor H. Nelson (Distributors, Dec 1974)

Two books you MUST read if you are remotely interested in humanities future.This one and Literary Machines.In CL/DM the article "The Mightiest Computer" is STILL light years ahead of most of the computer world.After you have read both of these books be sure to download zigzag ,cosmicbook and the demo's from ...and marvel!


Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
Edward O. Wilson, Edward Osborne Wilson (Vintage, Mar 1999)

The biologist Edward O. Wilson is a rare scientist: having over a long career made signal contributions to population genetics, evolutionary biology, entomology, and ethology, he has also steeped himself in philosophy, the humanities, and the social sciences. The result of his lifelong, wide-ranging investigations is "Consilience" (the word means "a jumping together," in this case of the many branches of human knowledge), a wonderfully broad study that encourages scholars to bridge the many gaps that yawn between and within the cultures of science and the arts. No such gaps should exist, Wilson maintains, for the sciences, humanities, and arts have a common goal: to give understanding a purpose, to lend to us all "a conviction, far deeper than a mere working proposition, that the world is orderly and can be explained by a small number of natural laws." In making his synthetic argument, Wilson examines the ways (rightly and wrongly) in which science is done, puzzles over the postmodernist debates now sweeping academia, and proposes thought-provoking ideas about religion and human nature. He turns to the great evolutionary biologists and the scholars of the Enlightenment for case studies of science properly conducted, considers the life cycles of ants and mountain lions, and presses, again and again, for rigor and vigor to be brought to bear on our search for meaning. The time is right, he suggests, for us to understand more fully that quest for knowledge, for ""Homo sapiens", the first truly free species, is about to decommission natural selection, the force that made us.... Soon we must look deep within ourselves and decide what we wish to become." Wilson's wisdom, eloquently expressed in the pages of this grand and lively summing-up, will be of much help in that search.


Creativity in Human Evolution and Prehistory
Steven Mithen (Routledge, Sep 1998)

This book examines how our understanding of human creativity can be extended by exploring this phenomenon during human evolution and prehistory.


Darwin Among the Machines: The Evolution of Global Intelligence
George B. Dyson (Perseus Books Group, Dec 1998)

Here's a mesmerizing account of the evolution of machines and thoughts about machines, woven into a story about the evolution of intelligence. "Darwin Among the Machines" is not so much about how today's intelligence came to be, but about how it may further develop as humanity and computer grow closer together. George Dyson tells the story largely through stories--both historical and legendary--from the lives of scientists and philosophers who paved the way for today's cybernetics revolution, starting with the 17th-century insights of Thomas Hobbes. This book challenges the assumption that nature and machine are opposing forces. Dyson believes them to be allies.


Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society
David Sloan Wilson (University Of Chicago Press, Oct 2003)

God or evolution? Though the debate about our origins has swirled in epic controversy since Darwin's time, David Sloan Wilson bravely blends these two contentious theories. This has been tried before, of course, mainly by religious intellectuals. What makes "Darwin's Cathedral" stand out is that Wilson does not pursue the classic "intelligent design" argument (evolution is God's hand at work), but instead argues that religion is evolution at work.
Wilson sees religion as a complex organism with "biological" functions. He argues that the social cohesiveness of religion makes it analogous to a beehive or a human body--and, in fact, religious believers sometimes employ these metaphors. He writes, "Thinking of a religious group as like an organism encourages us to look for adaptive complexity.... Mechanisms are required that are often awesome in their sophistication." To Wilson, therein lies the astonishing complexity of religion, just as in the biological world.
In just 260 pages, Wilson can't begin to do justice to the broad swath of intellectual work he's cut out for himself. And ultimately, the book's main failing is its simplicity. In addition, his approach to religion is so clearly an outsider's that he is unlikely to win many converts. Adaptive-mechanistic explanations of forgiveness and altruism may be intriguing to the atheist in the ivory tower, but they are likely to elicit little more than a bemused and passing interest from believers. "--Eric de Place"


Emanuel Goldberg and His Knowledge Machine: Information, Invention, and Political Forces
Michael Buckland (Libraries Unlimited, Mar 2006)

This book tells the story of Emanuel Goldberg, a chemist, inventor, and industrialist who contributed to almost every aspect of imaging technology in the first half of the 20th century. Photographic sensitometry, reprographics, standardized film speeds, color printing (moire effect), aerial photography, extreme microphotography (microdots), optics, camera design (the Contax), the first hand-held movie camera, and early television technology--Golberg was involved with them all. Yet history has not been kind to him, and his name has been all but erased from the annals of information science. An incredible story emerges as Buckland unearths forgotten documents and rogue citations to make the case that it was Goldberg, not Vannevar Bush, who created the first desktop search engine. Goldberg, not "Professor Zapp" (a figment of J. Edgar Hoover's imagination), who developed microdot technology. Goldberg, not Heinz Kueppenbender, who designed the famous Contax 35 mm camera. Buckland firmly yet engagingly gives credit where credit is due, in the process shedding light on the circumstances that led to Goldberg's obscurity. The result is an illuminating tribute to a great mind, and a fascinating investigation of a crucial period in the history of information science and technology.


The Emergence of Everything: How the World Became Complex
Harold J. Morowitz (Oxford University Press, USA, Apr 2004)

When the whole is greater than the sum of the parts--indeed, so great that the sum far transcends the parts and represents something utterly new and different--we call that phenomenon emergence. When the chemicals diffusing in the primordial waters came together to form the first living cell, that was emergence. When the activities of the neurons in the brain result in mind, that too is emergence. In The Emergence of Everything, one of the leading scientists involved in the study of complexity, Harold J. Morowitz, takes us on a sweeping tour of the universe, a tour with 28 stops, each one highlighting a particularly important moment of emergence. For instance, Morowitz illuminates the emergence of the stars, the birth of the elements and of the periodic table, and the appearance of solar systems and planets. We look at the emergence of living cells, animals, vertebrates, reptiles, and mammals, leading to the great apes and the appearance of humanity. He also examines tool making, the evolution of language, the invention of agriculture and technology, and the birth of cities. And as he offers these insights into the evolutionary unfolding of our universe, our solar system, and life itself, Morowitz also seeks out the nature of God in the emergent universe, the God posited by Spinoza, Bruno, and Einstein, a God Morowitz argues we can know through a study of the laws of nature. Written by one of our wisest scientists, The Emergence of Everything offers a fascinating new way to look at the universe and the natural world, and it makes an important contribution to the dialogue between science and religion.


Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
Steven Johnson (Scribner, Aug 2002)

An individual ant, like an individual neuron, is just about as dumb as can be. Connect enough of them together properly, though, and you get spontaneous intelligence. Web pundit Steven Johnson explains what we know about this phenomenon with a rare lucidity in "Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software". Starting with the weird behavior of the semi-colonial organisms we call slime molds, Johnson details the development of increasingly complex and familiar behavior among simple components: cells, insects, and software developers all find their place in greater schemes.
Most game players, alas, live on something close to day-trader time, at least when they're in the middle of a game--thinking more about their next move than their next meal, and usually blissfully oblivious to the ten- or twenty-year trajectory of software development. No one wants to play with a toy that's going to be fun after a few decades of tinkering--the toys have to be engaging "now", or kids will find other toys.
Johnson has a knack for explaining complicated and counterintuitive ideas cleverly without stealing the scene. Though we're far from fully understanding how complex behavior manifests from simple units and rules, our awareness that such emergence is possible is guiding research across disciplines. Readers unfamiliar with the sciences of complexity will find "Emergence" an excellent starting point, while those who were chaotic before it was cool will appreciate its updates and wider scope. "--Rob Lightner"


Encyclopedia of Library History
Wayne Wiegand (Routledge, Feb 1994)


An English 13th century bestiary: A new discovery in the technique of medieval illustration
Samuel A Ives (H.P. Kraus, Dec 1942)


Ethnobiological Classification
Brent Berlin (Princeton University Press, Jun 1992)

A founder of and leading thinker in the field of modern ethnobiology looks at the widespread regularities in the classification and naming of plants and animals among peoples of traditional, nonliterate societies--regularities that persist across local environments, cultures, societies, and languages. Brent Berlin maintains that these patterns can best be explained by the similarity of human beings' largely unconscious appreciation of the natural affinities among groupings of plants and animals: people recognize and name a grouping of organisms quite independently of its actual or potential usefulness or symbolic significance in human society. Berlin's claims challenge those anthropologists who see reality as a "set of culturally constructed, often unique and idiosyncratic images, little constrained by the parameters of an outside world." Part One of this wide-ranging work focuses primarily on the structure of ethnobiological classification inferred from an analysis of descriptions of individual systems. Part Two focuses on the underlying processes involved in the functioning and evolution of ethnobiological systems in general.


Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind, Second Edition
David Buss (Allyn & Bacon, Aug 2003)

" Composed of cutting-edge reasearch and featuring an engaging writing style, the author offers compelling scientific answers to the profound human questions regarding love and work. " Beginning with a historial introduction, the text logically progresses by discussing adaptive problems humans face and ends with a chapter showing how the new field of evolutionary psychology encompasses all branches of psychology. Each chapter is alive with the subjects that most occupy our minds: sex, mating, getting along, getting ahead, friends, enemies, and social hierarchies. Why is child abuse 40 times more prevalent among step-families than biologically intact families? Why, according to one study, did 75% of men but 0% of women consent to have sex with a complete stranger? Buss explores these intriguing quandaries with his vision of psychology in the new millenium as a new science of the mind. " Anyone with an interest in the biological facets of human psychology will find this a fascinating read.


Jorge Luis Borges (Grove Press, Dec 1969)

Reading Jorge Luis Borges is an experience akin to having the top of one's head removed for repairs. First comes the unfamiliar breeze tickling your cerebral cortex; then disorientation, even mild discomfort; and finally, the sense that the world has been irrevocably altered--and in this case, rendered infinitely more complex. First published in 1945, his "Ficciones" compressed several centuries' worth of philosophy and poetry into 17 tiny, unclassifiable pieces of prose. He offered up diabolical tigers, imaginary encyclopedias, ontological detective stories, and scholarly commentaries on nonexistent books, and in the process exploded all previous notions of genre. Would any of David Foster Wallace's famous footnotes be possible without Borges? Or, for that matter, the syntactical games of Perec, the metafictional pastiche of Calvino? For good or for ill, the blind Argentinian paved the way for a generation's worth of postmodern monkey business--and fiction will never be simply "fiction" again.
Its enormous influence on writers aside, "Ficciones" has also--perhaps more importantly--changed the way that we "read". Borges's Pierre Menard, for instance, undertakes the most audacious project imaginable: to create not a contemporary version of Cervantes's most famous work but the "Quixote" itself, word for word. This second text is "verbally identical" to the original, yet, because of its new associations, "infinitely richer"; every time we read, he suggests, we are in effect creating an entirely new text, simply by viewing it through the distorting lens of history. "A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships," Borges once wrote in an essay about George Bernard Shaw. "All men who repeat one line of Shakespeare are William Shakespeare," he tells us in "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius." In this spirit, Borges is not above impersonating, even quoting, himself.
It is hard, exactly, to say what all of this "means", at least in any of the usual ways. Borges wrote not with an ideological agenda, but with a kind of radical philosophical playfulness. Labyrinths, libraries, lotteries, doubles, dreams, mirrors, heresiarchs: these are the tokens with which he plays his ontological games. In the end, ideas themselves are less important to him than their aesthetic and imaginative possibilities. Like the idealist philosophers of Tlön, Borges does not "seek for the truth or even for verisimilitude, but rather for the astounding"; for him as for them, "metaphysics is a branch of fantastic literature." "--Mary Park"


The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, And Intelligence Evolved from Our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans
Stanley I. Greenspan, Stuart G. Shanker (Da Capo Press, Feb 2006)

In the childhood of every human being and at the dawn of human history there is an amazing and, until now, unexplained leap from simple genetically programmed behavior to language, symbolic thinking, and culture. In "The First Idea", Stanley Greenspan and Stuart Shanker explore this missing link and offer brilliant new insights into two longstanding questions: how human beings first create symbols and how these abilities evolved and were transmitted across generations over millions of years. From fascinating research into the intelligence of both human infants and apes, they identify certain cultural practices that are vitally important if we are to have stable and reflective future societies.
"Gives the reader a deeper appreciation of the power and formative potential of human emotional interaction.... Through their creative thinking about emotional interpersonal aspects of early human development, Greenspan and Shanker have helped us to find our bearings for the intellectual fight ahead." -"Nature"


Five kingdoms: An illustrated guide to the phyla of life on earth
Lynn Margulis (W.H. Freeman, Dec 1982)

This is the most complete and original biological field guide in history. Lynn Margulis, one of the most brilliant biologists of the 20th century, and her colleague Karlene Schwartz provide a roller-skate tour of the whole world of living things, from the smallest bacteria in the hot springs of Yellowstone to the mightiest oak (humans too, but we are set firmly in our place). In his Foreword, Stephen Jay Gould says "If the originality comes before us partly as a 'picture book,' it should not be downgraded for that reason--for primates are visual animals, and the surest instruction in a myriad of unknown creatures must be a set of figures with concise instruction about their meaning--all done so admirably in this volume." "--Mary Ellen Curtin"


From Memex To Hypertext
James M Nyce, Paul Kahn (Academic Press, Dec 1991)

Vannevar Bush, the engineer who designed the world's most powerful analog computer, predicted the development of a new kind of computing machine he called Memex. For many computer and information scientists, Bush's Memex has been the prototype for a machine to help people think. This book contains Bush's essays, and original essays by academic and commerical researchers relating the state of art in personal computing, hypertext and information retrieval software to bush's ideas and Memex.


Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin
Stephen Jay Gould (Three Rivers Press, Sep 1997)

The human mind has a trusty device for simplifying a complex world: reduce to averages and identify trends. Although valuable, the risk is that we ignore variations and end up with a skewed view of reality. In evolutionary terms, the result is a view in which humans are the inevitable pinnacle of evolutionary progress, instead of, as Stephen Jay Gould patiently argues, "a cosmic accident that would never arise again if the tree of life could be replanted." The implications of Gould's argument may threaten certain of our philosophical and religious foundations but will in the end provide us with a clearer view of, and a greater appreciation for, the complexities of our world.


The Future of Man
Teilhard De Chardin (Image, Apr 2004)

"The Future of Man" is a magnificent introduction to the thoughts and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, one of the few figures in the history of the Catholic Church to achieve renown as both a scientist and a theologian. Trained as a paleontologist and ordained as a Jesuit priest, Teilhard de Chardin devoted himself to establishing the intimate, interdependent connection between science—particularly the theory of evolution—and the basic tenets of the Christian faith. At the center of his philosophy was the belief that the human species is evolving spiritually, progressing from a simple faith to higher and higher forms of consciousness, including a consciousness of God, and culminating in the ultimate understanding of humankind’s place and purpose in the universe. The Church, which would not condone his philosophical writings, refused to allow their publication during his lifetime. Written over a period of thirty years and presented here in chronological order, the essays cover the wide-ranging interests and inquiries that engaged Teilhard de Chardin throughout his life: intellectual and social evolution; the coming of ultra-humanity; the integral place of faith in God in the advancement of science; and the impact of scientific discoveries on traditional religious dogma. Less formal than "The Phenomenon of Man" and "The Divine Milieu", Teilhard de Chardin’s most renowned works, The Future of Man offers a complete, fully accessible look at the genesis of ideas that continue to reverberate in both the scientific and the religious communities.


The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels
Thomas Cahill (Anchor, Aug 1999)

Thomas Cahill, author of the bestselling "How the Irish Saved Civilization", continues his Hinges of History series with "The Gifts of the Jews", a light-handed, popular account of ancient Jewish culture, the culture of the Bible. The book is written from a decidedly modern point of view. Cahill notes, for instance, that Abraham moved the Jews from Ur to the land of Canaan "to improve their prospects," and that the leering inhabitants of Sodom surrounded Lot's lodging "like the ghouls in "Night of the Living Dead"." "The Gifts of the Jews" nonetheless encourages us to see the Old Testament through ancient eyes--to see its characters not as our contemporaries but as those of Gilgamesh and Amenhotep. Cahill also lingers on often-overlooked books of the Bible, such as Ruth, to discuss changes in ancient sensibility. The result is a fine, speculative, eminently readable work of history.


Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century
Howard Bloom (Wiley, Dec 2001)

When did big-picture optimism become cool again? While not blind to potential problems and glitches, "Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From the Big Bang to the 21st Century" confidently asserts that our networked culture is not only inevitable but essential for our species' survival and eventual migration into space. Author Howard Bloom, believed by many to be R. Buckminster Fuller's intellectual heir, takes the reader on a dizzying tour of the universe, from its original subatomic particle network to the unimaginable data-processing power of intergalactic communication. His writing is smart and snappy, moving with equal poise through depictions of frenzied bacteria passing along information packets in the form of DNA and nomadic African tribespeople putting their heads together to find water for the next year.
The reader is swept up in Bloom's vision of the power of mass minds and, before long, can't help seeing the similarities between ecosystems, street gangs, and the Internet. Were Bloom not so learned and well-respected--more than a third of his book is devoted to notes and references, and luminaries from Lynn Margulis to Richard Metzger have lined up behind him--it would be tempting to dismiss him as a crank. His enthusiasm, the grand scale of his thinking, and his transcendence of traditional academic disciplines can be daunting, but the new outlook yielded to the persistent is simultaneously exciting and humbling. Bloom takes the old-school, sci-fi dystopian vision of group thinking and turns it around--"Global Brain" predicts that our future's going to be less like the Borg and more like a great party. "--Rob Lightner"


Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Douglas R. Hofstadter (Basic Books, Dec 1999)

Twenty years after it topped the bestseller charts, Douglas R. Hofstadter's "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" is still something of a marvel. Besides being a profound and entertaining meditation on human thought and creativity, this book looks at the surprising points of contact between the music of Bach, the artwork of Escher, and the mathematics of Gödel. It also looks at the prospects for computers and artificial intelligence (AI) for mimicking human thought. For the general reader and the computer techie alike, this book still sets a standard for thinking about the future of computers and their relation to the way we think.
Hofstadter's great achievement in "Gödel, Escher, Bach" was making abstruse mathematical topics (like undecidability, recursion, and 'strange loops') accessible and remarkably entertaining. Borrowing a page from Lewis Carroll (who might well have been a fan of this book), each chapter presents dialogue between the Tortoise and Achilles, as well as other characters who dramatize concepts discussed later in more detail. Allusions to Bach's music (centering on his "Musical Offering") and Escher's continually paradoxical artwork are plentiful here. This more approachable material lets the author delve into serious number theory (concentrating on the ramifications of Gödel's Theorem of Incompleteness) while stopping along the way to ponder the work of a host of other mathematicians, artists, and thinkers.
The world has moved on since 1979, of course. The book predicted that computers probably won't ever beat humans in chess, though Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov in 1997. And the vinyl record, which serves for some of Hofstadter's best analogies, is now left to collectors. Sections on recursion and the graphs of certain functions from physics look tantalizing, like the fractals of recent chaos theory. And AI has moved on, of course, with mixed results. Yet "Gödel, Escher, Bach" remains a remarkable achievement. Its intellectual range and ability to let us visualize difficult mathematical concepts help make it one of this century's best for anyone who's interested in computers and their potential for "real" intelligence. "--Richard Dragan"
Topics Covered: J.S. Bach, M.C. Escher, Kurt Gödel: biographical information and work, artificial intelligence (AI) history and theories, strange loops and tangled hierarchies, formal and informal systems, number theory, form in mathematics, figure and ground, consistency, completeness, Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry, recursive structures, theories of meaning, propositional calculus, typographical number theory, Zen and mathematics, levels of description and computers; theory of mind: neurons, minds and thoughts; undecidability; self-reference and self-representation; Turing test for machine intelligence.


Going Inside: A Tour Round a Single Moment of Consciousness
John Mccrone (Fromm Intl, Dec 2001)

What happens in our brain just before we act or speak? A look at a revolution in science.
The mysteries of human consciousness -- the most unyielding of the enigmas of the human brain -- are at last beginning to reveal their secrets. What happens in that split second before we become aware and the brain prompts us to speak or act? In "Going Inside", John McCrone takes us inside a single instant of consciousness -- that moment before a tennis player hits the ball without seeing it. What are the dynamics occurring inside the brain on a subconscious level before each moment of awareness? With great clarity and detail, McCrone tells us about the new ideas and research tools -- such as brain scanning, which snaps pictures of thoughts or images in a person's head. He explains why the model of the mind as a giant computer is being abandoned. In its place has emerged a view of a dynamic, evolving, chaotic system -- seeing the brain as an organ that literally "grows" awareness. These new ideas have wrought a revolution in cognitive neuroscience, now enjoying the kind of glory days that particle physics saw in the 1960s and genetics in the 1980s.


The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age
Sven Birkerts (Faber & Faber, Nov 2006)

What hath the inexpensive personal computer, the portable cassette player, and the CD-ROM wrought? Are books as we know them dead? And does--or should--it matter if they are? Birkerts, a renowned critic, examines the practice of reading with an eye to what the future will bring.


The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man
Marshall Mcluhan (University of Toronto Press, Mar 1962)

Since its first appearance in 1962, the impact of The Gutenberg Galaxy has been felt around the world. It gave us the concept of the global village; that phrase has now been translated, along with the rest of the book, into twelve languages, from Japanese to Serbo-Croat. It helped establish Marshall McLuhan as the original 'media guru.' More than 200,000 copies are in print. The reissue of this landmark book reflects the continuing importance of McLuhan's work for contemporary readers.


Gutenberg: How One Man Remade the World with Words
John Man (Wiley, Mar 2002)

The invention of writing, the alphabet, and the Internet: these are three signal events in the history of human culture, joined by a fourth: Johann Gutenberg's introduction of movable type and the printed book to the West, the subject of this illuminating study. Of Gutenberg himself little is known, at least not until the 1440s, when the native of Mainz, Germany, began to apply techniques he had learned in the coin-making trade to the development of the printing press. (He had observed the work of men "who could carve a letter in steel that had at least six, and perhaps sixty, times the resolution of a modern laser printer.") His genius, writer John Man tells us, lay not only in the invention of the handheld mold for making type but also in developing a reliable technique for binding that type into a form, all of which required years of trial and error. The result, in time, was Gutenberg's famous Bible--not a "pretty book," Man allows, but one that would have a revolutionary effect. Full of details on the art of printing and the context of Gutenberg's time, this is a sparking detective study that will bring much pleasure to fans of books about books. "--Gregory McNamee"


Historical Studies in Information Science
Trudi Bellardo Hahn (Information Today, Dec 1998)


A History of Illuminated Manuscript
Christopher De Hamel (Phaidon Press, Sep 1997)

For anyone who loves illuminated manuscripts, book arts, or the Medieval period in general, this is a wonderful resource. It is a book that I consider an indispensable resource in my personal library. It is very well written and easily accessible for anyone. Although some of the terminology may be unfamiliar, it isn't so esoteric that it is beyond the scope of general understanding.


A History of Libraries in the Western World
Michael H. Harris, Elmer D. Johnson (Scarecrow Press, Oct 1984)


How the Irish Saved Civilization
Thomas Cahill (Anchor, Feb 1996)

In this delightful and illuminating look into a crucial but little-known "hinge" of history, Thomas Cahill takes us to the "island of saints and scholars," the Ireland of St. Patrick and the Book of Kells. Here, far from the barbarian despoliation of the continent, monks and scribes laboriously, lovingly, even playfully preserved the West's written treasury. When stability returned in Europe, these Irish scholars were instrumental in spreading learning, becoming not only the conservators of civilization, but also the shapers of the medieval mind, putting their unique stamp on Western culture.


The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society
Norbert Wiener (Da Capo Press, Dec 1988)

For those of us who cannot grasp the mathematical, technical version of Wiener's theory of messages in _Cybernetics_, this book is a wonderful stand-in. Wiener wrote this entirely equationless text as a populariztion of his ideas about humans and machines. this book is a fascinating piece of philosophy and sociology also, as Wiener expands his theories and brings them to bear on history, journalism etc. He never loses his scientific perspective though; this gives his writing and ideas a clarity freshness that is uncommon in theoretical writings about society. This is a great and important book


George P. Landow (The Johns Hopkins University Press, Nov 1994)

In his widely acclaimed book Hypertext George P. Landow described a radically new information technology and its relationship to the work of such literary theorists as Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes. Now Landow has brought together a distinguished group of authorities to explore more fully the implications of hypertextual reading for contemporary literary theory.
Among the contributors, Charles Ess uses the work of Jürgen Habermas and the Frankfurt School to examine hypertext's potential for true democratization. Stuart Moulthrop turns to Deleuze and Guattari as a point of departure for a study of the relation of hypertext and political power. Espen Aarseth places hypertext within a framework created by other forms of electronic textuality. David Kolb explores what hypertext implies for philosophy and philosophical discourse. Jane Yellowlees Douglas, Gunnar Liestol, and Mireille Rosello use contemporary theory to come to terms with hypertext narrative. Terrence Harpold investigates the hypertextual fiction of Michael Joyce. Drawing on Derrida, Lacan, and Wittgenstein, Gregory Ulmer offers an example of the new form of writing hypertextuality demands.


Hypertext 3.0: Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization
George P. Landow (The Johns Hopkins University Press, Jan 2006)

George Landow's widely acclaimed Hypertext was the first book to bring together the worlds of literary theory and computer technology. Landow was one of the first scholars to explore the implications of giving readers instant, easy access to a virtual library of sources as well as unprecedented control of what and how they read. In hypermedia, Landow saw a strikingly literal embodiment of many major points of contemporary literary theory, particularly Derrida's idea of "de-centering" and Barthes's conception of the "readerly" versus "writerly" text.
From Intermedia to Microcosm, Storyspace, and the World Wide Web, Landow offers specific information about the kinds of hypertext, different modes of linking, attitudes toward technology, and the proliferation of pornography and gambling on the Internet. For the third edition he includes new material on developing Internet-related technologies, considering in particular their increasingly global reach and the social and political implications of this trend as viewed from a postcolonial perspective. He also discusses blogs, interactive film, and the relation of hypermedia to games. Thoroughly expanded and updated, this pioneering work continues to be the "ur-text" of hypertext studies.


Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology
George P. Landow (The Johns Hopkins University Press, Dec 1991)

"In this insightful and readable volume, Landow explores the relationship between contemporary literary and social theory and the latest advances in computer software."--Voice Literary Supplement.
"A useful book for understanding the effect technology is having on scholarship."--Semiotic Review of Books.
"Landow['s]... presentation is measured, experiential, lucid, moderate, and sensible. He merely points out that the concept `hypertext' lets us test some concepts associated with critical theory, and gracefully shows how the technology is contributing to reconfigurations of text, author, narrative, and (literary) education."--Post Modern Culture.
"Good news for teachers who are not too sensitive about their intellectual authority... Bad news for print culture."--Times Literary Supplement


The Implications of Literacy
(Princeton University Press, Jan 1987)

This book explores the influence of literacy on eleventh and twelfth-century life and thought on social organization, on the criticism of ritual and symbol, on the rise of empirical attitudes, on the relationship between language and reality, and on the broad interaction between ideas and society.
Medieval and early modern literacy, Brian Stock argues, did not simply supercede oral discourse but created a new type of interdependence between the oral and the written. If, on the surface, medieval culture was largely oral, texts nonetheless emerged as a reference system both for everyday activities and for giving shape to larger vehicles of interpretation. Even when texts were not actually present, people often acted and behaved as if they were.
The book uses methods derived from anthropology, from literary theory, and from historical research, and is divided into five chapters. The first treats the growth and shape of medieval literacy itself. The other four look afresh at some of the period's major issues--heresy, reform, the eucharistic controversy, the thought of Anselm, Abelard, and St. Bernard, together with the interpretation of contemporary experience--in the light of literacy's development. The study concludes that written language was the chief integrating instrument for diverse cultural achievements.


Information Ages: Literacy, Numeracy, and the Computer Revolution
Michael E. Hobart, Zachary S. Schiffman (The Johns Hopkins University Press, Apr 2000)

Hobart and Schiffman see what we call "the" "information age" as actually the third such "age." The first began with the invention of writing and the second with the development of the printing press. Further, they claim that the present information revolution, while creating much faster change than the other two, will actually have less impact on human thought and culture than its predecessors.
It is the first they find most dramatic, since "information" as we know it today is intimately tied to the invention of writing. By their definition, information is a human concept rather than something that exists in and of itself; information came into existence when knowledge could be stored outside an individual human's memory. Hobart and Schiffman trace the history of their conception of information through three eras: the classical, which began when oral traditions gave way to written records; the modern, in which printing brought information into the hands of the masses and allowed numeracy to shape human conceptions of reality; and the contemporary age of computers and cyberspace. This fascinating book challenges readers to reexamine foundational assumptions about information and the nature of knowledge. "--Elizabeth Lewis"


Interface Culture : How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate
Steven Johnson (Perseus Books Group, Oct 1999)

Steven Johnson turns the tables on the way we consider our computer interfaces. While many discussions focus on how interfaces help us work by adapting to our ways of thinking and our real-world metaphors, Johnson jumps from there to look at how our thinking and world view are altered by our computer interfaces.
He begins with the simple: The mouse improved the spatial nature of our computers by letting us move, by the proxy of our pointers, within the screen. The windows metaphor made cyberspace a 3-D space. And while we tend to think about the graphical nature of interfaces, Johnson also explores the textual side and how it has changed the way we work with the written word.
"Interface Culture" then goes on to show how, with each advance in technology, the interface shapes our perceptions in new ways. Where mice and windows turned the computing world into cyberspace, agents have created a perception of software as personality. On the larger scale, Johnson sees these tools, originally built on noncyber metaphors, as creating, in their turn, a new set of metaphors for looking at the rest of the world. And while he finds it exciting, he spends considerable time on such shortcomings in our approach to interfacing: what he considers the excessive emphasis on graphics elements at the cost of anything textual. Johnson, who is the editor of the cerebral "Feed" Web site and whom "Newsweek" called one of the most influential people in cyberspace, has written an intelligent book about interface design, its relationship to the real world, and how it affects our perception of worlds both cyber and physical.


Interfaces of the Word: Studies in the Evolution of Consciousness and Culture
Walter J. Ong (Cornell Univ Pr, Dec 1977)


Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
Jorge Luis Borges (New Directions Publishing Corporation, Dec 1964)

If Jorge Luis Borges had been a computer scientist, he probably would have invented hypertext and the World Wide Web.
Instead, being a librarian and one of the world's most widely read people, he became the leading practitioner of a densely layered imaginistic writing style that has been imitated throughout this century, but has no peer (although Umberto Eco sometimes comes close, especially in "Name of the Rose").
Borges's stories are redolent with an intelligence, wealth of invention, and a tight, almost mathematically formal style that challenge with mysteries and paradoxes revealed only slowly after several readings. Highly recommended to anyone who wants their imagination and intellect to be aswarm with philosophical plots, compelling conundrums, and a wealth of real and imagined literary references derived from an infinitely imaginary library.


The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language
Steven Pinker (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, Nov 2000)

In this classic study, the world's leading expert on language and the mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about languages: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it envolved.  With wit, erudition, and deft use it everyday examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution like web spinning in spiders or sonar bats.  "The Language Instinct" received the William James Book Prize from the American Psychological Association and the Public Interest Award from the Linguistics Society of America.


Language, Mind and Nature: Artificial Languages in England from Bacon to Locke
Rhodri Lewis (Cambridge University Press, Mar 2007)

In the attempt to make good one of the desiderata in Bacon's Advancement of Learning, a cohort of philosophers, scientists, schoolmasters, clergymen and cranks attempted to devise artificial languages that would immediately represent the order of thought, held both directly to represent the order of things and to be a universal characteristic of the human mind. Language, Mind and Nature fully reconstructs, for the first time, this artificial language movement in seventeenth-century England. In so doing, it reveals a great deal about the beliefs and activities of those who sought to reform learning in the early modern period. Artificial languages straddle occult, religious and proto-scientific approaches to representation and communication, and suggest that much of the so-called 'new philosophy' was not very new at all. This study breaks new ground within its field, and will be of interest to anyone concerned with intellectual or linguistic history during this period.


Libraries in the Ancient World
Lionel Casson (Yale University Press, Sep 2002)

The Dewey decimal system of cataloguing and its modern successors are relatively new, and they sometimes seem inadequate as ways of organizing knowledge in ever-changing fields of study. But the idea of bringing order to collections of written material is an ancient one, as Lionel Casson writes in this lucid survey of bibliophilia in the ancient Mediterranean. Among the earliest examples of written material that we have are lists of library holdings, clay tablets from Mesopotamia that archive commercial inventories, scholarly texts, and a surprising number of works on witchcraft and remedies against it.
Ancient libraries grew, Casson writes, by many means: by peaceful trade, as when book-hungry Romans spent extravagant sums on Greek texts made in southern Italy; by conquest, as when the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal looted the libraries of his ancient rival Babylon, carting the contents to his capital of Nineveh; and by fiat, as when the Egyptian pharaohs appropriated private collections to round out their own. Those libraries nourished the great philosophers and writers of old, shaping world culture into our own time. But, as Casson ably shows, the enemies of books are many, among them floods, fires, insects, and intolerance. As it is today, so it was in the past, and contending empires and ideologies too often expressed themselves by sacking and burning the collections of their enemies--by reason of which we have only a few of the works that engaged readers in the distant past.
Casson's slender book enhances our understanding of the role of books and their collectors in the ancient world, and bibliophiles and historians alike will find much of value in its pages. "--Gregory McNamee"


Library: An Unquiet History
Matthew Battles (W. W. Norton & Company, Dec 2004)

"Splendidly articulate, informative and provoking....A book to be savored and gone back to."—"Baltimore Sun"
On the survival and destruction of knowledge, from Alexandria to the Internet. Through the ages, libraries have not only accumulated and preserved but also shaped, inspired, and obliterated knowledge. Matthew Battles, a rare books librarian and a gifted narrator, takes us on a spirited foray from Boston to Baghdad, from classical scriptoria to medieval monasteries, from the Vatican to the British Library, from socialist reading rooms and rural home libraries to the Information Age.
He explores how libraries are built and how they are destroyed, from the decay of the great Alexandrian library to scroll burnings in ancient China to the destruction of Aztec books by the Spanish—and in our own time, the burning of libraries in Europe and Bosnia. Encyclopedic in its breadth and novelistic in its telling, this volume will occupy a treasured place on the bookshelf next to Baker's "Double Fold", Basbanes's "A Gentle Madness", Manguel's "A History of Reading", and Winchester's "The Professor and the Madman".


The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson (Modern Library, Nov 1998)

"Jefferson aspired beyond the ambition of a nationality,
and embraced in his view the whole future of man."
--Henry Adams


Literary Darwinism
Joseph Carroll (Routledge, Mar 2004)

In Literary Darwinism, Carroll presents a comprehensive survey of this new movement with a collection of his most important previously published work, along with three new essays. The essays and reviews give commentary on all the major contributors to the field, situate the field as a whole in relation to historical trends and contemporary schools, provide Darwinist readings of major literary texts such as Pride and Prejudice and Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and analyze literary Darwinism in relation to the affiliated fields of evolutionary metaphysics, cognitive rhetoric, and ecocriticism. Collecting the essays in a single volume will provide a central point of reference for scholars interested in consulting what the "foremost practitioner" ("New York Times") of Darwinian literary criticism has to say about his field.


Literary Machines 93.1
Theodor Holm Nelson (Mindful Press, Dec 1992)

This book describes the legendary and daring PROJECT XANADU, and initiative toward an instantaneous electronic literature; the most audacious and specific plan for knowledge, freedom, and a better world yet to come out of computerdom; the original (perhaps the ultimate) HYPERTEXT SYSTEM.


Man Makes Himself
V. Gordon Childe (Spokesman Books, Dec 2003)

This book is the classic introduction to the history of early man. Starting more than 340,000 years ago, when man's ability to make a fire and fashion stone tools helped him to survive among the wild beasts, it traces his development as a food producer, the emergence of cities and states, the rise of foreign trade, and the urban revolution. Contents include: Chronological Table for Egypt and Mesopotamia, Human and Natural History, Organic Evolution and Cultural Progress, Time Scales, Food Gatherers, the Neolithic Revolution, Prelude to the Second Revolution, the Urban Revolution, the Revolution in Human Knowledge, the Acceleration and Retardation of Progress.


Medieval Library
James W. Thompson (Macmillan Pub Co, Dec 1970)


The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology
Robert Wright (Vintage, Aug 1995)

An accessible introduction to the science of evolutionary psychology and how it explains many aspects of human nature. Unlike many books on the topic,which focus on abstractions like kin selection, this book focuses on Darwinian explanations of why we are the way we are--emotionally and morally. Wright deals particularly well with explaining the reasons for the stereotypical dynamics of the three big "S's:" sex, siblings, and society.


Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny
Robert Wright (Vintage, Jan 2001)

"Nonzero", from "New Republic" writer Robert Wright, is a difficult and important book--well worth reading--addressing the controversial question of purpose in evolution. Using language suggesting that natural selection is a designer's tool, Wright inevitably draws the conclusion that evolution is goal-oriented (or at least moves toward inevitable ends independently of environmental or contingent variables).
The underlying reason that non-zero-sum games wind up being played well is the same in biological evolution as in cultural evolution. Whether you are a bunch of genes or a bunch of memes, if you're all in the same boat you'll tend to perish unless you are conducive to productive coordination.... Genetic evolution thus tends to create smoothly integrated organisms, and cultural evolution tends to create smoothly integrated groups of organisms.
Admittedly, it's as hard to think clearly about natural selection as it is to think about God, but that makes it just as important to acknowledge our biases and try to exclude them from our conclusions. It is this that makes "Nonzero" potentially unsatisfying to the scientifically literate. Time after time we've seen thinkers try to find in biological evolution a "drive toward complexity" that might explain all sorts of other phenomena from economics to spirituality. Some authors, like Teilhard de Chardin, have much to offer the careful reader who takes pains to read metaphorically. Others--legions of cranks--provide nothing but opaque diatribes culminating in often-bizarre assertions proven to nobody but the author. Wright is much closer to de Chardin along this axis; his anthropological scholarship is particularly noteworthy, and his grasp of world history is excellent. Unfortunately, he has the advocate's willingness to blind himself to disagreeable facts and to muddle over concepts whose clarity would be poisonous to his positions: try to pin him down on what he means by complexity, for example. Still, his thesis that human cultures are historically striving for cooperative, nonzero-sum situations is heartening and compelling; even though it's not supported by biology, it's not knocked down, either. If the reader can work around the undefined assumptions, Wright's charm and obvious interest in planetary survival make "Nonzero" a worthy read. If the first chapter's title--"The Ladder of Cultural Evolution"--makes you cringe, the last one--"You Call This a God?"--will make you smile. "--Rob Lightner"


Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach
Karl R. Popper (Oxford University Press, USA, Nov 1972)

The essays in this volume represent an approach to human knowledge that has had a profound influence on many recent thinkers. Popper breaks with a traditional commonsense theory of knowledge that can be traced back to Aristotle. A realist and fallibilist, he argues closely and in simple language that scientific knowledge, once stated in human language, is no longer part of ourselves but a separate entity that grows through critical selection.


On Intelligence
Jeff Hawkins, Sandra Blakeslee (Owl Books, Aug 2005)

Jeff Hawkins, the high-tech success story behind PalmPilots and the Redwood Neuroscience Institute, does a lot of thinking about thinking. In "On Intelligence" Hawkins juxtaposes his two loves--computers and brains--to examine the real future of artificial intelligence. In doing so, he unites two fields of study that have been moving uneasily toward one another for at least two decades. Most people think that computers are getting smarter, and that maybe someday, they'll be as smart as we humans are. But Hawkins explains why the way we build computers today won't take us down that path. He shows, using nicely accessible examples, that our brains are memory-driven systems that use our five senses and our perception of time, space, and consciousness in a way that's totally unlike the relatively simple structures of even the most complex computer chip. Readers who gobbled up Ray Kurzweil's ("The Age of Spiritual Machines" and Steven Johnson's "Mind Wide Open" will find more intriguing food for thought here. Hawkins does a good job of outlining current brain research for a general audience, and his enthusiasm for brains is surprisingly contagious. "--Therese Littleton"


Orality and Literacy
Walter J. Ong (Routledge, Jul 2002)

This classic work explores the vast differences between oral and literate cultures and offers a brilliantly lucid account of the intellectual, literary and social effects of writing, print and electronic technology.


Origin of Mind: Evolution of Brain, Cognition, and General Intelligence
David C. Geary (American Psychological Association (APA), Oct 2004)

This is an thoughtful, erudite and complex book weaving together various strands of research in evolution, neural organisation, cognition and mind together. Every page is littered with references, not carelessly I hasten to add. The author's main thesis, as i understand it, is that the mind essentially 'runs' simulations, and this is an evolution endowmnet arising from ontogenetic requirements to exercise control of behaviour and the environment. Anyone locked into folk psychology, especially Stich's simualtion theory, will find much to ponder here. Geary holds that folk psychology has many 'anchors' that orient the human organism towards fundamental activities to sustain itself, e.g. social cues. These anchors are shaped in development under evolutionary imperatives. Much of the book is devoted to teasing out in detail the framework that allows this to occur. The notion of a fluid intelligence is introduced to debnk the g factor (as too limitinf a construct) and explain adaptive behaviours. Each chapter deserves a review by itself. Overall, the book is tremendously impressive and detailed however, it still faces to problem of splicing folk psychological concepts with neuroscientific data, and it is here that most critics will focus there attention. Geary has assemled a welther of piece sof evidence and argumentation to make this work, but eliminativtists will not be satisfied. Having read this book quickly, I can state baldly that it is the first book in years that I will reread. Lots of food for thought.


The Origins of the English Library:
Raymond Irwin (Greenwood Press Reprint, Nov 1981)

Studies the background of libraries developed since classical times, and the part they played in building up our present culture.


Origins of the Modern Mind: Three Stages in the Evolution of Culture and Cognition
Merlin Donald (Harvard University Press, Sep 2005)

This bold and brilliant book asks the ultimate question of the life sciences: How did the human mind acquire its incomparable power? In seeking the answer, Merlin Donald traces the evolution of human culture and cognition from primitive apes to artificial intelligence, presenting an enterprising and original theory of how the human mind evolved from its presymbolic form.


Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World
Kevin Kelly (Perseus Books Group, Dec 1995)

In many ways, the 20th century has been the Age of Physics. Out of Control is an accessible and entertaining explanation of why the coming years will probably be the Age of Biology -- particularly evolution and ethology -- and what this will mean to most every aspect of our society. Kelly is an enthusiastic and well-informed guide who explains the promises and implications of this rapidly evolving revolution very well.


Plato, Alexander Nehamas, Paul Woodruff (Hackett Publishing Company, Dec 1995)

I have heard some call this work a confused jumble of unrelated concepts. These people just didn't get it. There is one unified theme to the Phaedrus: without a deep connection to the soul and to the higher Reality only accessible to the soul, then all human endeavors are in error.

The first part of the dialogue deals with three speeches on the topic of love. This is used only as an example and is not the primary theme (though it is an extremely thorough and compelling examination of the subject.) The first speech (by Lysias) is clearly in error- it is badly composed, badly reasoned, and supports what is clearly the wrong conclusion. The second speech (by Socrates), while an impeccable model of correct rhetoric, and reaching the correct conclusion is also essentially flawed- for it makes no appeal to the deepest fundamental causes of things. Simply put, it lacks soul. The third argument (attributed to Stesichorus) however, delves deeply into the soul. In fact, the core of the argument is centered around the proof of the existence and nature of the soul. That is the consistency here- unless you are Philosopher enough to have looked deeply within your own soul, to have made contact (recollection) with ultimate Reality (Justice, Wisdom, Beauty, Temperance, etc.) then your arguments are just empty words- even if you are accidentally on the correct side.

The second part of the dialogue concentrates on showing how true rhetoric is more than "empty rhetoric" (i.e. just clever arguments and tricks used to sway the masses.) True rhetoric is shown to literally be the art of influencing the soul through words. It also reads as the perfect description, and damnation, of modern politics and the legal system. No wonder Socrates was condemned to later take poison- he actually BELIEVED in Justice, Truth, and the Good. As a Philosopher he could not compromise on such things for he knew the profound damage and that it would do to his soul and to his "wings."


The Platypus and the Mermaid: And Other Figments of the Classifying Imagination
Harriet Ritvo (Harvard University Press, Oct 1998)

"Cats is 'dogs,' and rabbits is 'dogs,' and so's parrots; but this `ere 'tortis' is a insect," a porter explains to an astonished traveler in a nineteenth-century "Punch" cartoon. Railways were not the only British institution to schematize the world. This enormously entertaining book captures the fervor of the Victorian age for classifying and categorizing every new specimen, plant or animal, that British explorers and soldiers and sailors brought home. As she depicts a whole complex of competing groups deploying rival schemes and nomenclatures, Harriet Ritvo shows us a society drawing and redrawing its own boundaries and ultimately identifying itself.
The experts (whether calling themselves naturalists, zoologists, or comparative anatomists) agreed on their superior authority if nothing else, but the laymen had their say--and Ritvo shows us a world in which butchers and artists, farmers and showmen vied to impose order on the wild profusion of nature. Sometimes assumptions or preoccupations overlapped; sometimes open disagreement or hostility emerged, exposing fissures in the social fabric or contested cultural territory. Of the greatest interest were creatures that confounded or crossed established categories; in the discussions provoked by these mishaps, monstrosities, and hybrids we can see ideas about human society--about the sexual proclivities of women, for instance, or the imagined hierarchy of nations and races.
A thoroughly absorbing account of taxonomy--as zoological classification and as anthropological study--"The Platypus and the Mermaid" offers a new perspective on the constantly shifting, ever suggestive interactions of scientific lore, cultural ideas, and the popular imagination.


Primitive Classification
Emile Durkheim, Marcel Mauss (University Of Chicago Press, Sep 1967)

Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss maintain that society is the source of the very categories of human thought. First published in the "Année Sociologique" in 1903, this classic essay has been translated by Rodney Needham, who also provides a critical introduction. "["Primitive Classification"] will impress the reader with its quiet elegance, its direct, logical form, its clarity of style, its spirit of careful, yet bold, exploration."—Harry Alpert, "American Journal of Sociology ""Particularly instructive for anyone who wonders what social anthropology is: how, if at all, it differs from sociology and whether it has any unifying theoretical problem."—F. K. Lehman, "American Sociological Review "


The Printing Press as an Agent of Change
Elizabeth L. Eisenstein (Cambridge University Press, Sep 1980)

Originally published in two volumes, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change is now issued in a paperback edition containing both volumes. The work is a full-scale historical treatment of the advent of printing and its importance as an agent of change. Professor Eisenstein begins by examining the general implications of the shift from script to print, and goes on to examine its part in three of the major movements of early modern times - the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the rise of modern science.


Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the Limits of the Possible
Arthur C. Clarke (Phoenix Press, )

In this book Arthur C. Clarke considers the future development of human technology, focusing on the ultimate limits of what is possible rather than on what the near future is likely to bring. Originally published in 1962, Clarke has added comments where developments have substantially modified his earlier views. He addresses a wide range of questions: transport, colonising space, novel sources of energy, artificial intelligence, a universal machine that can produce any specified artefact, as well as more fanciful possibilities such as time-travel, teleportation, and invisibility. He suggests we should be slow to pronounce anything "impossible" as the technology of the future may be as hard for us to imagine as ours would have been for people of earlier ages. (He also quotes a number of "authorities" who denied the possibility of heavier than air flight or the rocket shortly before they became realities!) Sadly, my enjoyment of this book was somewhat spoiled by Clarke's style which is inclined to be rather laboured and pompous. A pity, as this is otherwise a first rate read.


Promethean Fire: Reflections on the Origin of Mind
Charles J. Lumsden (iUniverse, Dec 1999)

There is a missing link in human evolution about which few facts are known and surprisingly little has been written. It is not any one of the intermediate forms connecting modern man to his apelike ancestors. It is something much more challenging—the early human mind. How did it come into existence? And why?
In "Promethean Fire " Charles J. Lumsden and Edward O. Wilson take us down the twisting corridors through which our species traveled in the two-million-year odyssey from "Homo Habilis" to modern man. They ask why, out of the millions of species that have emerged and gone extinct, human beings alone took the last, abrupt journey to high intelligence and advanced culture. Lumsden and Wilson attribute the sudden emergence of the human mind to the activation of a mechanism both obedient to physical law and unique to man. This "Promethean fire" is geneculture coevolution, a mutually acting change in the genes and culture that carried man beyond the pervious limits of biology—yet restrains his nature on an elastic, unbreakable leash.
The authors' argument builds impressively from across the entire range of biological and social sciences, but their presentation is essentially lyrical. They share with the reader their reconstruction—both stunning line drawings and colorful vignettes—of how the primitive mind may have functioned in exercising cultural choice with genetic bias. Step by step, they guide us through the diverse categories of evidence, including recent studies of incest avoidance, color vocabulary, infant gaze patterns, taste discriminations, and phobias, which led them toward the theory of cultural transmission based on the importance of genetic filters in individual mental development.


Readings in library history
Leslie W Dunlap (R. R. Bowker, Dec 1972)


The Renaissance Computer
Neil Rhodes (Routledge, Sep 2000)

In the fifteenth century the printing press was the 'new technology'. The first ever information revolution began with the advent of the printed book, enabling Renaissance scholars to formulate new ways of organizing and disseminating knowledge. As early as 1500 there were already 20 million books in circulation in Europe. How did this rapid explosion of ideas impact upon the evolution of new disciplines?
"The Renaissance Computer" looks at the fascinating development of new methods of information storage and retrieval which took place at the very beginning of print culture. It also asks some crucial questions about the intellectual conditions of our own digital age. A dazzling array of leading experts in Renaissance culture explore topics of urgent significance today, including the contribution of knowledge technologies to state formulation and national identity; the effect ofmultimedia, orality and memory on education; the importance of the visual display of information and how search engines reflect and direct ways of thinking.


Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter
Thomas Cahill (Anchor, Jul 2004)

In Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, his fourth volume to explore “the hinges of history,” Thomas Cahill escorts the reader on another entertaining—and historically unassailable—journey through the landmarks of art and bloodshed that defined Greek culture nearly three millennia ago.

In the city-states of Athens and Sparta and throughout the Greek islands, honors could be won in making love and war, and lives were rife with contradictions. By developing the alphabet, the Greeks empowered the reader, demystified experience, and opened the way for civil discussion and experimentation—yet they kept slaves. The glorious verses of the Iliad recount a conflict in which rage and outrage spur men to action and suggest that their “bellicose society of gleaming metals and rattling weapons” is not so very distant from more recent campaigns of “shock and awe.” And, centuries before Zorba, Greece was a land where music, dance, and freely flowing wine were essential to the high life. Granting equal time to the sacred and the profane, Cahill rivets our attention to the legacies of an ancient and enduring worldview.


Science as a Process: An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science
David L. Hull (University Of Chicago Press, May 1990)

Applies evolutionary models to the cultural and conceptual change of intellectual communities. Essential reading for anyone interested in how ideas evolve, and how best to describe these processes rigorously.


Seymour Lubetzky: Writings on the Classical Art of Cataloging
Dorothy McGarry (Libraries Unlimited, Oct 2001)

Seymour Lubetzky ranks among the greatest minds in library science. His groundbreaking works devoted to the problem of modern cataloging in the 20th century place him with Antonio Panizzi and Charles Cutter. Now, for the first time, Lubetzky's works are being published as a collection, which includes a complete reproduction of his three most influential titles: Cataloging Rules and Principles, Code of Cataloging Rules, and Principles of Cataloging, as well as periodical articles. The selections included in this book are presented in chronological order so that the development of Lubetzky's thought can be followed from his first writings on cataloging problems in the late thirties and early forties to writings in the following decades that consolidate and reiterate his philosophical and methodological stances. The book includes an introduction by the editors, relating to the major events in Lubetzky's writing career, as well as a comprehensive bibliography of his works. An absolute must-have for faculty and students of library and information science, cataloging professionals, and librarians.


The Social Life of Information
John Seely Brown, Paul Duguid (Harvard Business School Press, Feb 2002)

How many times has your PC crashed today? While Gordon Moore's now famous law projecting the doubling of computer power every 18 months has more than borne itself out, it's too bad that a similar trajectory projecting the reliability and usefulness of all that power didn't come to pass, as well. Advances in information technology are most often measured in the cool numbers of megahertz, throughput, and bandwidth--but, for many us, the experience of these advances may be better measured in hours of frustration.
The gap between the hype of the Information Age and its reality is often wide and deep, and it's into this gap that John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid plunge. Not that these guys are Luddites--far from it. Brown, the chief scientist at Xerox and the director of its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), and Duguid, a historian and social theorist who also works with PARC, measure how information technology interacts and meshes with the social fabric. They write, "Technology design often takes aim at the surface of life. There it undoubtedly scores lots of worthwhile hits. But such successes can make designers blind to the difficulty of more serious challenges--primarily the resourcefulness that helps embed certain ways of doing things deep in our lives."
The authors cast their gaze on the many trends and ideas proffered by infoenthusiasts over the years, such as software agents, "still a long way from the predicted insertion into the woof and warp of ordinary life"; the electronic cottage that Alvin Toffler wrote about 20 years ago and has yet to be fully realized; and the rise of knowledge management and the challenges it faces trying to manage how people actually work and learn in the workplace. Their aim is not to pass judgment but to help remedy the tunnel vision that prevents technologists from seeing larger the social context that their ideas must ultimately inhabit. "The Social Life of Information" is a thoughtful and challenging read that belongs on the bookshelf of anyone trying to invent or make sense of the new world of information. "--Harry C. Edwards"


Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition
Edward O. Wilson (Belknap Press, Mar 2000)

E.O. Wilson defines sociobiology as "the systematic study of the biological basis of all social behavior," the central theoretical problem of which is the question of how behaviors that seemingly contradict the principles of natural selection, such as altruism, can develop. "Sociobiology: A New Synthesis", Wilson's first attempt to outline the new field of study, was first published in 1975 and called for a fairly revolutionary update to the so-called Modern Synthesis of evolutionary biology. Sociobiology as a new field of study demanded the active inclusion of sociology, the social sciences, and the humanities in evolutionary theory. Often criticized for its apparent message of "biological destiny," "Sociobiology" set the stage for such controversial works as Richard Dawkins's "The Selfish Gene" and Wilson's own "Consilience".
"Sociobiology" defines such concepts as "society", "individual", "population", "communication", and "regulation". It attempts to explain, biologically, why groups of animals behave the way they do when finding food or shelter, confronting enemies, or getting along with one another. Wilson seeks to explain how group selection, altruism, hierarchies, and sexual selection work in populations of animals, and to identify evolutionary trends and sociobiological characteristics of all animal groups, up to and including man. The insect sections of the books are particularly interesting, given Wilson's status as the world's most famous entomologist.
It is fair to say that as an ecological strategy eusociality has been overwhelmingly successful. It is useful to think of an insect colony as a diffuse organism, weighing anywhere from less than a gram to as much as a kilogram and possessing from about a hundred to a million or more tiny mouths.
It's when Wilson starts talking about human beings that the furor starts. Feminists have been among the strongest critics of the work, arguing that humans are not slaves to a biological destiny, forever locked in "primitive" behavior patterns without the ability to reason past our biochemical nature. Like "The Origin of Species", "Sociobiology" has forced many biologists and social scientists to reassess their most cherished notions of how life works. "--Therese Littleton"


Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences
Geoffrey C. Bowker, Susan Leigh Star (The MIT Press, Aug 2000)

Is this book sociology, anthropology, or taxonomy? "Sorting Things Out", by communications theorists Geoffrey C. Bowker and Susan Leigh Star, covers a lot of conceptual ground in its effort to sort out exactly how and why we classify and categorize the things and concepts we encounter day to day. But the analysis doesn't stop there; the authors go on to explore what happens to our thinking as a result of our classifications. With great insight and precise academic language, they pick apart our information systems and language structures that lie deeper than the everyday categories we use. The authors focus first on the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), a widely used scheme used by health professionals worldwide, but also look at other health information systems, racial classifications used by South Africa during apartheid, and more.
Though it comes off as a bit too academic at times (by the end of the 20th century, most writers should be able to get the spelling of McDonald's restaurant right), the book has a clever charm that thoughtful readers will surely appreciate. A sly sense of humor sneaks into the writing, giving rise to the chapter title "The Kindness of Strangers," for example. After arguing that categorization is both strongly influenced by and a powerful reinforcer of ideology, it follows that revolutions (political or scientific) must change the way things are sorted in order to throw over the old system. Who knew that such simple, basic elements of thought could have such far-reaching consequences? Whether you ultimately place it with social science, linguistics, or (as the authors fear) fantasy, make sure you put "Sorting Things Out" in your reading pile. "--Rob Lightner"


The Stone Age Present: How Evolution Has Shaped Modern Life--From Sex, Violence, and Language to Emotions, Morals, and Communities
(Touchstone, Nov 1995)

Have you ever wandered why men don't ask for directions? Why we react with anger to infidelity? Why we love music and art? Why war and racism still thrive in our most sophisticated cultures?
In this fascinating synthesis of the disciplines of anthropology, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, and biology, William Allman shows us how our minds have evolved in response to challenges faced by our prehistoric ancestors, and reveals how our brains continue to harbor that legacy in the present day.
Scientists speculate that many of the problems of modern life -- from obesity to war -- arise because our "Stone Age mind" hasn't caught up with our technologically sophisticated world. But Allman also reveals how morality, rather than being the result of arbitrary convention, is deeply rooted in our need to cooperate, which has been essential to the survival of our species through its evolution.


A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History
Manuel Delanda, Manuel De Landa (Zone Books, Sep 2000)

Following in the wake of his groundbreaking "War in the Age of Intelligent Machines", Manuel De Landa presents a radical synthesis of historical development over the last one thousand years. More than a simple expository history, "A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History" sketches the outlines of a renewed materialist philosophy of history in the tradition of Fernand Braudel, Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari, while also engaging the critical new understanding of material processes derived from the sciences of dynamics. Working against prevailing attitudes that see history as an arena of texts, discourses, ideologies, and metaphors, De Landa traces the concrete movements and interplays of matter and energy through human populations in the last millennium.

De Landa attacks three domains that have given shape to human societies: economics, biology, and linguistics. In every case, what one sees is the self-directed processes of matter and energy interacting with the whim and will of human history itself to form a panoramic vision of the West free of rigid teleology and naive notions of progress, and even more important, free of any deterministic source of its urban, institutional, and technological forms. Rather, the source of all concrete forms in the West's history are shown to derive from internal morphogenetic capabilities that lie within the flow of matter-energy itself.


The Triumph of Sociobiology
John Alcock (Oxford University Press, USA, May 2003)

Scientists tend to be a bit insecure about their position in society. Nowhere is this more evident than in the decades-old sociobiology debate, and behavioral scientist John Alcock tries to shore up his side against the sometimes hysterical opposition in "The Triumph of Sociobiology". Inevitably, the book is somewhat defensive and apologetic, but the author explains himself and his field well and will convince most readers that studying the evolution of behavior is no more controversial than any other aspect of evolution. Between charming, engaging tales of field study and intriguing analyses of the chief arguments against sociobiology, Alcock disarms the reader's natural discomfort with the topic and makes his case clearly.
Humans have not always had all the cultural accouterments of Hutus or Englishmen. At one time not so many million years ago, our ancestors could make only rudimentary tools while surely communicating in a far less sophisticated manner than we do currently. The immense increase in brain size over the last million or so years must have had profound consequences for our capacity to learn and acquire our culture. If you accept the less-than-revolutionary assumption that brains are necessary for learned behavior, then past selection on hominids that varied in their capacity for culture is a certainty.
But doesn't sociobiology justify rape, racism, and genocide? Not so fast, says Alcock. Just because behavior has a natural explanation, that doesn't make it moral. It would seem that those who want to prevent this sort of behavior would be keenly interested in understanding why it manifests, but often the opposite case pertains. Through gentle dissection of the differences between scientific and ethical knowledge, Alcock shows that we can use them to complement each other. "The Triumph of Sociobiology" takes time and care to examine all the claims made against the field, both political and scientific, and ends up making a strong case for deeper research. "--Rob Lightner"


Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things
George Lakoff (University Of Chicago Press, Apr 1990)

"Its publication should be a major event for cognitive linguistics and should pose a major challenge for cognitive science. In addition, it should have repercussions in a variety of disciplines, ranging from anthropology and psychology to epistemology and the philosophy of science. . . . Lakoff asks: What do categories of language and thought reveal about the human mind? Offering both general theory and minute details, Lakoff shows that categories reveal a great deal."--David E. Leary, "American Scientist"


Works and Days and Theogony
Hesiod, Robert Lamberton (Hackett Publishing Company, Dec 1993)

Guide to Greek Mythos (and a guide to farming), by, roughly speaking, Homer's contemporary Hesiod.

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