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The Internet is just one more information adjustment

2 min read


SmartBrief is partnering with Big Think to create a weekly video spotlight in SmartBrief on Leadership called “VIP Corner: Video Insights Powered by Big Think.” This week, we’re featuring author James Gleick.

The Internet is changing the way we access, process and organize information, and will continue to do so in ways we can’t predict, but this is just the latest technology to do so, argues author James Gleick.

The telegraph was the first technology to connect heretofore unassailable distances, and it led to a reconstruction of the way we organize time, for long-distance instant communication suddenly meant we were in need of time zones. Similar shifts in our thinking, processes and actions were seen before, with the printing press, and after, with 20th century technologies.

In that light, the Internet is just the latest printing press or telegraph. But while what it affects includes the rather trivial, Gleick says — including, the ability to have a dinner-party debate about trivia without instantly accessing the answer — the real change may be in how we organize our knowledge.

“[W]e may have reached a point where alphabetical order has gone obsolete. Wikipedia is ostensibly in alphabetical order, but, when you think about it, it’s not in any order at all. … The fact that G’s come after the F’s don’t make any sense. So sure, that’s part of the evolution of the species.”

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