History

Information: A Historical Companion

A landmark history that traces the creation, management, and sharing of information through six centuries

Hardcover

Price:
£54.00 / $65.00
ISBN:
Published:
01/19/2021
Copyright:
2021
Pages:
904
Size:
7 x 10 in.
Illus:
43 b/w illus.
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Thanks to modern technological advances, we now enjoy seemingly unlimited access to information. Yet how did information become so central to our everyday lives, and how did its processing and storage make our data-driven era possible? This volume is the first to consider these questions in comprehensive detail, tracing the global emergence of information practices, technologies, and more, from the premodern era to the present. With entries spanning archivists to algorithms and scribes to surveilling, this is the ultimate reference on how information has shaped and been shaped by societies.

Written by an international team of experts, the book’s inspired and original long- and short-form contributions reconstruct the rise of human approaches to creating, managing, and sharing facts and knowledge. Thirteen full-length chapters discuss the role of information in pivotal epochs and regions, with chief emphasis on Europe and North America, but also substantive treatment of other parts of the world as well as current global interconnections. More than 100 alphabetical entries follow, focusing on specific tools, methods, and concepts—from ancient coins to the office memo, and censorship to plagiarism. The result is a wide-ranging, deeply immersive collection that will appeal to anyone drawn to the story behind our modern mania for an informed existence.

  • Tells the story of information’s rise from 1450 through to today
  • Covers a range of eras and regions, including the medieval Islamic world, late imperial East Asia, early modern and modern Europe, and modern North America
  • Includes 100 concise articles on wide-ranging topics:

  • Concepts: data, intellectual property, privacy
  • Formats and genres: books, databases, maps, newspapers, scrolls and rolls, social media
  • People: archivists, diplomats and spies, readers, secretaries, teachers
  • Practices: censorship, forecasting, learning, political reporting, translating
  • Processes: digitization, quantification, storage and search
  • Systems: bureaucracy, platforms, telecommunications
  • Technologies: cameras, computers, lithography
    • Provides an informative glossary, suggested further reading (a short bibliography accompanies each entry), and a detailed index
    • Written by an international team of notable contributors, including Jeremy Adelman, Lorraine Daston, John-Paul Ghobrial, Earle Havens, Niv Horesh, Sarah Igo, Lauren Kassell, Pamela Long, David McKitterick, Elias Muhanna, Carla Nappi, Geoffrey Nunberg, Neil Safier, Haun Saussy, Erin Schreiner, Jacob Soll, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Alexandra Walsham, and many more.