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When Information Came of Age


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Table of Contents

1: Information and its History 2: Organizing Information: The Language of Science 3: Transforming Information: The Origin of Statistics 4: Displaying Information: Maps and Graphs 5: Storing Information: Dictionaries and Encyclopedias 6: Communicating Information: Postal and Telegraphic Systems 7: Information Ages, Past and Present

About the Author

Daniel R. Headrick is Professor of Social Science and History at Roosevelt University and author of numerous books on world history, includnig The Invisible Weapon, The Tentacles of Progress, and The Tools of Empire.


"One of the myths of the computer era is that it is our age that invented Information Technology. In a book that is as timely as it is scholarly, Dan Headrick shows how the age of enlightenment discovered 'information' as a systematic way of organizing the things we know. Information technologies preceded industrialization and clearly played a major role in the emergence of modern production techniques and the democratic institutions of free market. Headrick is one of the most imaginative and original minds working on historical questions today."--Joel Mokyr, Northwestern University "Information processing is not a recent invention. Indeed, it is as old as human speech. Headrick's path-breaking book shows us, with admirable precision, how information processing assumed new forms and reshaped European and American society between 1700 and 1850."--William H. McNeill, University of Chicago (Emeritus) "Anyone interested in the historical roots of the present Information Age should read When Information Came of Age." Daniel Headrick argues convincingly that the modern attitudes toward information that we take for granted had their start in the 18th century. From dictionaries to maps to classification schemes in natural history and chemistry, Headrick explains how and why scientists and humanists began to think about information in new ways--and how these new ways of thinking about information made possible the present Information Age."--Steven Lubar, Smithsonian National Museum of American History "It is already a commonplace to refer to our time as the 'Information Age' and most people would probably associate it weith the diffusion of computing technology. Headrick does a masterful job in When Information Came of Age of showing that the roots of this age lie deep in profound changes in the methods of handling information that occurred a long time ago. The lesson is important because in nurturing innovation it is necessary to realize that new gadgets are only a superficial manifestation of the really revolutionary things happening out of sight."--Juan D. Rogers, Georgia Institute of Technology "When Information Came of Age is an excellent addition to the growing collection of studies on the origins of 'our' Information Age. Headrick clearly demonstrates that a revolution occurred in the organization and presentation of information long before the arrival of the computer. This is an important book."--James M. Cortada, IBM and author of Before the Computer "An original, lucid synthesis, one that serves to remind us that today's controversies often have long pedigrees. Many of our debates on Internet privacy and encryption, for instance, have their origins in the postal service and legislative controversies of the French Revolution. The recounting of the history of power and information has only begun, and this book is an outstanding contribution."--The Wilson Quarterly

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