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  • feedwordpress 09:01:00 on 2018/11/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , Internet, oldest printed book, , , scrolls, , ,   

    “Printing…is the preservative of all arts”*… 

     

    dunhuang-diamond-sutra-frontispiece

    Frontispiece of the Dunhuang Diamond Sūtra

     

    In 366, the itinerant monk Yuezun was wandering through the arid landscape [around the Western Chinese city of Dunhuang] when a fantastical sight appeared before him: a thousand buddhas, bathed in golden light. (Whether heat, exhaustion or the strange voice of the sands worked themselves on his imagination is anyone’s guess.) Awed by his vision, Yuezun took up hammer and chisel and carved a devotional space into a nearby cliff-face. It soon became a centre for religion and art: Dunhuang was situated at the confluence of two major Silk Road routes, and both departing and returning merchants made offerings. By the time the site fell into disuse in the 14th century, almost 500 temples had been carved from the cliff.

    Among the hundreds of caves was a chamber that served as a storeroom for books. The Library Cave held more than 50,000 texts: religious tracts, business reports, calendars, dictionaries, government documents, shopping lists, and the oldest dated printed book in the world. A colophon at the end of the Dunhuang Diamond Sūtra scroll dates it to 868, nearly six centuries before the first Gutenberg Bible…

    Learn more at: “The Oldest Printed Book in the World.”  Then page through the British Libraries digitization of its restoration.

    * Isaiah Thomas (the 19th century publisher and author, not the basketball player)

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    As we treasure tomes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1990 that  Tim Berners-Lee published a formal proposal for aa “Hypertext project” that he called the World Wide Web (though at the time he rendered it in one word: “WorldWideWeb”)… laying the foundation for a network that has become central to the information age– a network that, with its connected technologies, is believed by many to have sparked a revolution as fundamental and impactful as the revolution ignited by Gutenberg and moveable type.

    Sir_Tim_Berners-Lee_(cropped) source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:22 on 2018/05/29 Permalink
    Tags: 1996, Bob Wallace, , Internet, , PC-Write, Quicksoft, shareware, ,   

    “Chance favors the connected mind”*… 

     

    The Wall Street Journal‘s review of the web in late 1996– completely intact, with links still live…

    Stroll down memory lane here.

    [TotH to Benedict Evans]

    See also “We haven’t learned anything about what the web is for since 1996.”

    * Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

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    As we try to remember, we might send well-connected birthday greetings to Bob Wallace; he was born on this date in 1949.  A software developer, programmer and the ninth employee of Microsoft, He was the first popular user of the term “shareware,” creator of the word processing program PC-Write, founder of the software company Quicksoft, and an “online drug guru” who devoted much time and money to the research of psychedelic drugs.

    Bob ended his Usenet posts with the phrase, “Bob Wallace (just my opinion).”

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:46 on 2018/03/15 Permalink
    Tags: .com, access, domain name, , , Internet, , Mundaneum, Paul Otlet, ,   

    “Knowledge, like air, is vital to life. Like air, no one should be denied it.”*… 

     

    Belgian information activist Paul Otlet (1927)

    More than a century ago, Belgian information activist Paul Otlet envisioned a universal compilation of knowledge and the technology to make it globally available. He foresaw, in other words, some of the possibilities of today’s Web.

    Otlet’s ideas provide an important pivot point in the history of recording knowledge and making it accessible. In classical times, the best-known example of the knowledge enterprise was the Library of Alexandria. This great repository of knowledge was built in the Egyptian city of Alexandria around 300 BCE by Ptolemy I and was destroyed between 48 BCE and 642 CE, supposedly by one or more fires. The size of its holdings is also open to question, but the biggest number that historians cite is 700,000 papyrus scrolls, equivalent to perhaps 100,000 modern books…

    Any hope of compacting all we know today into 100,000 books—or 28 encyclopedic volumes—is long gone. The Library of Congress holds 36 million books and printed materials, and many university libraries also hold millions of books. In 2010, the Google Books Library Project examined the world’s leading library catalogs and databases. The project, which scans hard copy books into digital form, estimated that there are 130 million existing individual titles. By 2013, Google had digitized 20 million of them.

    This massive conversion of books to bytes is only a small part of the explosion in digital information. Writing in the Financial Times, Stephen Pritchard notes that humanity generated almost 2 trillion gigabytes of varied data in 2011, an amount projected to double every two years, forming a growing trove of Big Data available on about 1 billion websites… Search engines let us trek some distance into this world, but other approaches can allow us to explore it more efficiently or deeply. A few have sprung up. Wikipedia, for instance, classifies Web content under subject headings…

    But there is a bigger question: Can we design an overall approach that would reduce the “static” and allow anyone in the world to rapidly pinpoint and access any desired information? That’s the question Paul Otlet raised and answered—in concept if not in execution. Had he fully succeeded, we might today have a more easily navigable Web.

    Otlet, born in Brussels, Belgium, in 1868, was an information science pioneer. In 1895, with lawyer and internationalist Henri La Fontaine, he established the International Institute of Bibliography, which would develop and distribute a universal catalog and classification system. As Boyd Rayward writes in the Journal of Library History, this was “no more and no less than an attempt to obtain bibliographic control over the entire spectrum of recorded knowledge.”…

    The remarkable story in full at: “The internet before the internet: Paul Otlet’s Mundaneum.”

    * Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

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    As we try to comprehend comprehensiveness, we might recall that it was on this date in 1985 that the first .com Internet domain, symbolics.com, was registered by Symbolics, a now-defunct Massachusetts computer company.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:39 on 2018/03/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , Internat Archive, Internet, powerpoint, , ,   

    “If you like overheads, you’ll love PowerPoint”*… 

     

    Military Industrial Powerpoint Complex is  collection created as a special project for the Internet Archive’s 20th Anniversary celebration in 2016, highlighting IA’s web archive.  It consists of all the Powerpoint files (57,489) from the .mil web domain, e,g,:

    Plumb the depths at The Military Industrial Powerpoint Complex.

    * Edward Tufte

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    As we hold our heads in our hands, we might recall that it was on this date in 1989 that Tim Berners-Lee submitted a proposal to CERN for developing a new way of linking and sharing information over the Internet.  It was the first time Berners-Lee proposed the system that would ultimately become the World Wide Web, so this date is oft cited as the “Birthday of the Web.”  But his pitch was a bit vague, and got no traction.  He resubmitted a second, more detailed proposal on November 12, 1990– on which CERN acted…  so many consider this later date the Web’s inception.

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:58 on 2018/03/08 Permalink
    Tags: Bleek, , , Internet, Laurens van der Post, , Lucy Lloyd, Oxford English Dictionary,   

    “There’s no such thing as an unabridged dictionary”*… 

     

    For OED’s editors, this world is both exhilarating and, one senses, mildly overwhelming. The digital era has enabled Oxford lexicographers to run dragnets deeper and deeper through the language, but it has also threatened to capsize the operation. When you’re making a historical dictionary and are required to check each and every resource, then recheck those resources when, say, a corpus of handwritten 17th-century letters comes on stream, the problem of keeping the dictionary up to date expands to even more nightmarish proportions. Adding to that dictionary to accommodate new words – themselves visible in greater numbers than ever before, mutating ever-faster – increases the nightmare exponentially. “In the early years of digital, we were a little out of control,” Peter Gilliver told me. “It’s never-ending,” one OED lexicographer agreed. “You can feel like you’re falling into the wormhole.”

    Adding to the challenge is a story that has become wearily familiar: while more people are consulting dictionary-like resources than ever, almost no one wants to shell out. Sales of hard-copy dictionaries have collapsed, far more calamitously than in other sectors. (OUP refused to give me figures, citing “commercial sensitivities”. “I don’t think you’ll get any publisher to fess up about this,” Michael Rundell told me.) While reference publishers amalgamate or go to the wall, information giants such as Google and Apple get fat by using our own search terms to sell us stuff. If you can get a definition by holding your thumb over a word on your smartphone, why bother picking up a book?…

    As Andrew Dickson explains, for centuries lexicographers have attempted to capture the entire English language. Technology might soon turn this dream into reality – but will it spell the end for dictionaries?  The fascinating story of the Oxford English Dictionary‘s ongoing attempt to outrun that fate: “Inside the OED: can the world’s biggest dictionary survive the internet?

    * Jack Lynch, The Lexicographer’s Dilemma: The Evolution of “Proper” English, from Shakespeare to South Park

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    As we look it up, we might send carefully-defined birthday greetings to Wilhelm Heinrich Immanuel Bleek; he was born on this date in 1827.  A linguist, he created  A Comparative Grammar of South African Languages.  But his great project (jointly executed with his sister-in-law, Lucy Lloyd) was “The Bleek and Lloyd Archive of ǀxam and !kun texts”– a shortened form of which eventually reached press as Specimens of Bushman Folklore (on which Laurens van der Post drew heavily for his book, The Heart of the Hunter and for his BBC series The Lost World of the Kalahari).

     source

    Happy International Women’s Day!

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:14 on 2018/01/23 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Internet, James Gosling, Java, , , Sun Microsystems,   

    “Unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the world as changeable. And help to change it.”*… 

     

    Andrei Lacatusu, a self-taught digital artist from Rome, created this series of digital art called “Social Decay.”

    Learn more at “Artist Imagines The Decay Of Social Media Companies“: see the full set at Lacatusu’s Behance page.

    [TotH to the always-illuminating Pop Loser]

    * Ernst Fischer

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    As we contemplate a post-social media world, we might recall that it was on this date in 1996 that the first version of the Java programming language was released by Sun Microsystems; the language, created by James Gosling, had been in use in since 1995 as part of Sun’s Java Platform.  Its ability to “write once, run anywhere” made Java ideal for Internet-based applications.  As the popularity of the Internet soared, so did the usage of Java.

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:36 on 2018/01/11 Permalink
    Tags: Al Gore, Brian Arthur, , , , Internet, , Superhighway Summit,   

    “When we achieved, and the new world dawned, the old men came out again and took our victory to re-make in the likeness of the former world they knew”*… 

     

    The term “technological unemployment” is from John Maynard Keynes’s 1930 lecture, “Economic possibilities for our grandchildren,” where he predicted that in the future, around 2030, the production problem would be solved and there would be enough for everyone, but machines (robots, he thought) would cause “technological unemployment.” There would be plenty to go around, but the means of getting a share in it, jobs, might be scarce.

    We are not quite at 2030, but I believe we have reached the “Keynes point,” where indeed enough is produced by the economy, both physical and virtual, for all of us. (If total US household income of $8.495 trillion were shared by America’s 116 million households, each would earn $73,000, enough for a decent middle-class life.) And we have reached a point where technological unemployment is becoming a reality.

    The problem in this new phase we’ve entered is not quite jobs, it is access to what’s produced. Jobs have been the main means of access for only 200 or 300 years. Before that, farm labor, small craft workshops, voluntary piecework, or inherited wealth provided access. Now access needs to change again.

    However this happens, we have entered a different phase for the economy, a new era where production matters less and what matters more is access to that production: distribution, in other words—who gets what and how they get it.

    We have entered the distributive era…

    From a very provocative essay by a very wise man, Brian Arthur.  You can– and should– read it in its entirety at “Where is technology taking the economy?

    See also: “Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution”*…

    * T.E. Lawrence

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    As we rethink the fundamentals, we might recall that it was on this date in 1994 that The Superhighway Summit was held at the University of California, Los Angeles’s Royce Hall.

    It was the “first public conference bringing together all of the major industry, government and academic leaders in the field [and] also began the national dialogue about the Information Superhighway and its implications.” The conference was organized by Richard Frank of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and Jeffrey Cole and Geoffrey Cowan, the former co-directors of UCLA’s Center for Communication Policy.The keynote speaker was Vice President Al Gore who said:  “We have a dream for…an information superhighway that can save lives, create jobs and give every American, young and old, the chance for the best education available to anyone, anywhere.”

    According to Cynthia Lee in UCLA Today: “The participants underscored the point that the major challenge of the Information Highway would lie in access or the ‘gap between those who will have access to it because they can afford to equip themselves with the latest electronic devices and those who can’t.’”  [source]

    Vice President Gore at the Summit’s podium

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:24 on 2017/12/15 Permalink
    Tags: , Bill of Rights Day, , , , Internet, ,   

    “When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie”*… 

     

    Internet censorship is a growing phenomenon around the world (c.f., here), perhaps the most severe form of which is the “disconnection” of a country from the global internet altogether…

    In January 2011, what was arguably the first significant disconnection of an entire country from the Internet took place when routes to Egyptian networks disappeared from the Internet’s global routing table, leaving no valid paths by which the rest of the world could exchange Internet traffic with Egypt’s service providers. It was followed in short order by nationwide disruptions in Bahrain, Libya, and Syria. These outages took place during what became known as the Arab Spring, highlighting the role that the Internet had come to play in political protest, and heralding the wider use of national Internet shutdowns as a means of control…

    After these events, and another significant Internet outage in Syria, this question led a blog post published in November 2012 by former Dyn Chief Scientist Jim Cowie that examined the risk of Internet disconnection for countries around the world, based on the number of Internet connections at their international border. “You can think of this, to [a] first approximation,” Cowie wrote, “as the number of phone calls (or legal writs, or infrastructure attacks) that would have to be performed in order to decouple the domestic Internet from the global Internet.”

    Based on our aggregated view of the global Internet routing table at the time, we identified the set of border providersin each country: domestic network providers (autonomous systems, in BGP parlance) who have direct connections, visible in routing, to international (foreign) providers. From that data set, four tiers were defined to classify a country’s risk of Internet disconnection…

    Read ’em and weep at “The Migration of Political Internet Shutdowns.”

    * Yevgeny Yevtushenko

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    As opt for open, we might recall that today is Bill of Rights Day: on this date in 1791, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution were ratified and came into effect.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:51 on 2017/08/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , Internet, internet traffic, internet use, , ,   

    “Don’t believe anything you read on the net. Except this. Well, including this, I suppose.”*… 

     

    Just a month ago, it was revealed that Facebook has more than two billion active monthly users. That means that in any given month, more than 25% of Earth’s population logs in to their Facebook account at least once.

    This kind of scale is almost impossible to grasp.

    Here’s one attempt to put it in perspective: imagine Yankee Stadium’s seats packed with 50,000 people, and multiply this by a factor of 40,000. That’s about how many different people log into Facebook every month worldwide.

    The Yankee Stadium analogy sort of helps, but it’s still very hard to picture. The scale of the internet is so great, that it doesn’t make sense to look at the information on a monthly basis, or even to use daily figures.

    Instead, let’s drill down to just what happens in just one internet minute…

    More at “What Happens in an Internet Minute in 2017?

    And for a cogent consideration of what all this might mean, see “You Are the Product.”

    * Douglas Adams

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    As we retreat behind the firewall, we might recall that it was on this date in 1980 that The Project Chess team at IBM showed a prototype microcomputer to their corporate management. Management gave approval– and a one-year deadline– for the team to build an operational computer to compete in the rapidly emerging personal computer market. One year and 4 days later, the IBM PC was introduced to the world… and the rest is history.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:28 on 2017/05/18 Permalink
    Tags: , civic discourse, , Internet, , newspaper, public opinion,   

    “The bubbles of certainty are constantly exploding”*… 

     

    The internet, most everybody agrees, is driving Americans apart, causing most people to hole up in sites geared toward people like them… This view makes sense. After all, the internet gives us a virtually unlimited number of options from which we can consume the news. I can read whatever I want. You can read whatever you want…  And people, if left to their own devices, tend to seek out viewpoints that confirm what they believe. Thus, surely, the internet must be creating extreme political segregation.

    There is one problem with this standard view. The data tells us that it is simply not true.

    See for yourself at “Maybe the internet isn’t tearing us apart after all.”

    * Rem Koolhaas

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    As we listen for the pop, we might recall that it was on this ate in 1622 that the Stationers Register recorded (allowed the publication of) the first issue of a news weekly– a series of reports from foreign correspondents, generally considered to have been the first “newspaper” in the English language.

    Cover of the second issue (the first issue is lost)

    source

     

     
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