Tuesday, May 3, 2011

More on the book, Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?

Here are some interesting passages...

Chris Anderson, "The Rediscovery of Fire."
"Before Gutenberg, we had a different technology for communicating ideas and information. It was called talking."  And then, "Read a Martin Luther King Jr. speech and you may nod in agreement.  But then track down a video of the man in action, delivering those same words in from of an energized crowd.  It's a wholly different experience."  I think this is part of the reason that YouTube is so popular.  Seeing a presentation or a demonstration is much more powerful than just trying to read about how to do something.

Eric Drexler, "The Web Helps Us See What Isn't There."
This deals with absence detection.  This "could help societies blunder toward somewhat better decisions about those questions."  Identifying what is absent by observation is much more difficult than identifying what is there.  Reference librarians get these kinds of questions every once in a while.  A student wants to see if anyone has done research on a niche topic.  One could search and search and search and search and not find anything.  This is what the person wants, because he or she wants to identify a unique area where the person can perform novel research.

Martin Rees, "A Level Playing Field."
He discusses the arXiv.org as the preferred mechanism for reading research in physics.  He notes that "far fewer people today read traditional journals.  These have so far survived as guarantors of quality."  He sees that other less formal methods of publication will survive, such as blogs, and that quality control will be controlled by mechanisms of restaurant-like grading or Amazon style reviews.

Seth Lloyd, "Move Aside, Sex."
Why trek over to the library, when Wikipedia is 99.44% correct?  The 0.56% can burn you.  In mathematics, "an approximate theorem is typically an untrue theorem."  What is the sex part?  He goes on to explain that sex is a good way to share DNA information with others, and yadda, yadda, yadda.

John Tooby, "RIvaling Gutenberg."
He talks about the huge impact that Gutenberg had on the transmission of information and knowledge.  Not really new news here.  But, I like his note about William Tyndale who dared to translate the Bible into English, because that is what, you know, everybody read in England. He wanted lowly farmers to be able to read the scriptures and the supposed word of God. He was executed for doing such a foolish thing.

More to come.

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