Alex Wright


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GLUT: Mastering Information Through the Ages


Los Angeles Times

"A penetrating and highly entertaining meditation on the information age and its historical roots."
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Publisher's Weekly

"Wright delivers a fascinating tour of the many ways that humans have collected, organized and shared information ... to show how the information age started long before microchips or movable type.”
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"This stimulating book offers much opportunity to reflect on the nature and long history of information management as a damper to the panic or the elation we may variously feel as we face ever greater scales of information overload."
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New Scientist

"A readable romp through the history of information processing, from the origins of writing to the emergence of libraries and finally the World Wide Web."
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Wilson Quarterly

"... succeed[s] beautifully as a museum in which various artifacts reveal how humankind has used wit, reason, and imagination to store and compute data."
(Review not yet available online)

Cleveland Plain Dealer

"'Glut' is a tough but rewarding read, an ambitious dip into what anthropology, statistics and computer science can tell us about our information systems, and our current embrace of the World Wide Web. Rigorously considered and extensively researched, "Glut" raises the right questions and never settles for easy answers.
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"Wright’s insights and analysis provide a lucid perspective on the current state and prospects of information management and distribution."
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Choice (American Library Association)

"Compared to other available works on this topic, Wright's is significantly more comprehensive and is written for a broader audience. Recommended."
(Review not available online)

Information Research

Alex Wright has written a fascinating account of the history of our attempts to organize and manage information and one that hints at even bigger issues than the one he has chosen to address.
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PsycCRITIQUES (American Psychological Association)

Glut provides fascinating insights into the nature of how people structure information and the clash between subjective and objective approaches to that task. Chances are that even readers who already share these passions will still find some stories and connections they didn't previously know existed.
(Review not available online)


"Wright not only has a good grasp of his subject matter, but also knows how to synthesize and integrate this knowledge to arrive at unique ideas and novel arguments."
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Science News:

"As people become increasingly connected through digital means and a flood of information is readily available through the Internet, the idea of information systems has gained greater visibility. In this historical account, Wright provides evidence to support his assertion that the concept of information systems is not a modern construct."
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Boxes & Arrows

"Information architects - and anyone curious about the roots of information management - will find much of interest in Glut's thought-provoking tale."
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Blog reviews

Stewart Brand / Long Now Foundation

Richard J. Cox

Liz Danzico / (interview)

Kirk Smith, Bishop of Arizona

Ex Libris

Jason Kottke

Library Technology Issues

Victor Lombardi / Noise Between Stations

Steve Lawson

My Mind on Books

Dave Pell / Davenetics

Nadav Savio / Antenna

Khoi Vinh /

Todd Watson / IBM DeveloperWorks

Academic Librarian

Advance Praise

James Burke

Creator of the BBC's Connections series and author of American Connections: The Founding Fathers Networked

"This is a must-read for anybody who wants to understand where we’ve been and where we’re going. A lucid, exciting book full of flashes of surprise about how we’ve done it all before: prehistoric beads as networking aids, 3rd century random access systems, 7th century Irish monastic bloggers, 11th century multimedia, 16th century hypertext. I wish I’d written it!"

Kevin Kelly

Former Executive Editor of Wired and author of Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World

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

Louis Rosenfeld

Co-author ofInformation Architecture for the World Wide Web

"Information technology is part of what makes us human, and its story is our own. In this masterfully written book, Alex Wright traces the roots of the IT Revolution deep into human pre-history, showing how our lives are intimately bound up with the "escalating fugue" of information technology."

Paul Ford

Associate Editor, Harper's Magazine.

"Glut defies classification. From Incan woven threads to Wikipedia, Alex Wright shows us that humans have been attempting to fix categories upon the world throughout history, and that organizing information is a fundamental part of what makes us human. Drawing from Plato, Jefferson, Borges, and many other great thinkers, Glut makes the connection between primate behavior and today's hypertext networks, stopping along the way in ancient Alexandria, medieval England, and colonial America. Many books tell you how to organize things--this one tells you why we do it."

Inside the Book