invention of the printing press

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pages: 222 words: 74,587

Paper Machines: About Cards & Catalogs, 1548-1929 by Markus Krajewski, Peter Krapp

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business process, continuation of politics by other means, double entry bookkeeping, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Gödel, Escher, Bach, index card, Index librorum prohibitorum, information retrieval, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, Jacques de Vaucanson, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge worker, means of production, new economy, paper trading, Turing machine

Posthumous praise of the suggested approach is unequivocal: “I can certainly testify this much: that numerous learned men are known to me who like to apply this in their studies.”26 Paper slips can be rearranged again and again in different orders, serving as a basis for text production. This method allows the writing of several books at the same time. And finally, it is even possible to cut books up to save oneself the trouble of copying.27 Behind this order of paper slips that guarantees mobility and rearrangement, one can recognize the same economy of signs that a century earlier contributes to a major paradigmatic shift. Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press not only forges most obviously associations of typesetting, steel models, pouring mechanisms for individual letter types, special alloys, and composing sticks for setting lines of type.28 As a marginal yet indispensable aid, a new tool for filing and storing of the individual pieces of type is introduced: the type case. “The technical core of Gutenberg’s invention consists in dissolving the articulated sequence of words and letters into their components so as to deploy them as isolated single elements over and over again.”29 In contrast to printing with full-page wood carvings (so-called block books), typography owes its potential for recombination to individual precision-cast letters of a special alloy of lead and a little antimony.

., a catalog comprising the world’s entire book production arranged according to the decimal system on slips of paper by (a) copying and unifying the titles from every large library, (b) cataloging every new publication (books and articles).”38 In addition to financial support by the Belgian crown, the capital for this project consists of 400,000 slips of paper in “boxes contrived after the American system”39 that form the basis for a world catalog compiled by La Fontaine and Otlet. 114 Chapter 7 The growth of the card index leaves little to be desired. By 1897, the universal register already contains about 1 million entries; by July 1, 1903, there are 6,269,750, and by 1914, more than 11 million slips of paper.40 With an annual increase of approximately 500,000 entries, estimates see the project covering the “entire book production since the invention of the printing press,” anticipating the end of this gigantic enterprise after another ten years.41 It is no coincidence that the development of the Bibliographia Universalis is reminiscent of Konrad Gessner’s efforts. As a method for the production of index cards “by cutting and pasting bibliographical aids,” it undoubtedly harks back to this origin and bears a striking resemblance to its parameters even 350 years later—despite the improved copying procedures and printing methods, paper quality, and cutting devices that were developed in the meantime.42 Following emphatic recommendations by the bibliographical institute in Brussels, the doctrine of basing data collections on semantic arrangements sorted with decimal figures is slowly adopted in business applications and, with some delay, also by the Prussian administration.


pages: 259 words: 73,193

The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection by Michael Harris

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4chan, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Burning Man, Carrington event, cognitive dissonance, crowdsourcing, dematerialisation, en.wikipedia.org, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Google Glasses, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, Loebner Prize, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, moral panic, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, pre–internet, Republic of Letters, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social web, Steve Jobs, the medium is the message, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing test

“If a poor child in a developing country takes a dozen courses in computer sciences that he didn’t have access to before, and then can earn a decent wage, I think in that way we can change the world.” Who would deny such an enlightenment? But it may be worth noting here that most Coursera students are not from developing countries. At present, Africa makes up 3.6 percent of the students, while more than a third come from North America and a further third hail from Europe. Neil Postman, the pioneering technology critic, argues in Technopoly that “school was an invention of the printing press and must stand or fall on the issue of how much importance the printed word has.” By this measure, Coursera and its ilk are a kind of necessity, a rearrangement of education that’s inevitable as our means of communication changes. “For four hundred years schoolteachers have been part of the knowledge monopoly created by printing,” continues Postman, “and they are now witnessing the breakup of that monopoly.”

Latest numbers show Coursera hosts: “A Triple Milestone,” Coursera Blog for October 23, 2013, accessed January 17, 2014, http://blog.coursera.org/post/64907189712/a-triple-milestone-107-partners-532-courses-5-2. “We don’t educate people as others wished”: Max Chafkin, “Udacity’s Sebastian Thrun, Godfather of Free Online Education, Changes Course,” Fast Company, accessed December 2, 2013, http://www.fastcompany.com/3021473/udacity-sebastian-thrun-uphill-climb. “school was an invention of the printing press”: Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (New York: Vintage, 1993), 10. Marshall McLuhan argues that whenever we amplify: Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, (Berkeley, Calif.: Ginkgo Press, 2003), 63–70. “Welcome to a world through glass”: “What It Does—Google Glass,” accessed September 5, 2013, http://www.google.com/glass/start/what-it-does/.


pages: 294 words: 82,438

Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World by Donald Sull, Kathleen M. Eisenhardt

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, asset allocation, Atul Gawande, barriers to entry, Basel III, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, Checklist Manifesto, complexity theory, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversification, drone strike, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, Exxon Valdez, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, haute cuisine, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, late fees, Lean Startup, Louis Pasteur, Lyft, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nate Silver, Network effects, obamacare, Paul Graham, performance metric, price anchoring, RAND corporation, risk/return, Saturday Night Live, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Startup school, statistical model, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, transportation-network company, two-sided market, Wall-E, web application, Y Combinator, Zipcar

Over the same time, global air traffic has increased nearly threefold, facilitating the mix of people and commerce around the world. Capital has followed trade, and in the past few decades the correlation between countries’ stock markets has more than doubled, while banks’ exposure to debt beyond their home markets has nearly tripled. And of course the Internet has revolutionized interconnectedness in a way comparable only to the invention of the printing press or perhaps even the development of writing itself. It is easy to forget that Google is still a teenager, and Facebook is in elementary school. Weaver argued that simple and uncertain problems have largely been solved, and that the greatest challenges of the future would be problems of complexity. He was right. At the personal level, many of us struggle to manage complexity every day.

One of the longest wars in modern history, it would ultimately leave eight million dead, including at least a quarter of all Germans. As the Church fragmented, the known world expanded. Beginning in the late 1400s, Europeans began to explore and colonize the Americas, the Pacific Islands, and Asia. Within a few decades, the economies, societies, and politics of European states were densely interwoven with those of exotic lands unknown just a few decades earlier. The invention of the printing press—the Internet of the Middle Ages—increased the speed and volume of information linking formerly isolated corners of the world. Fewer than 5 million manuscripts were produced in the 1400s—all of them written by hand. Over 217 million were printed in the following century, during which time the price of a book fell by two-thirds. The Catholic Church responded to this newfound complexity by increasing the number and variety of religious orders.


pages: 297 words: 103,910

Free culture: how big media uses technology and the law to lock down culture and control creativity by Lawrence Lessig

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Brewster Kahle, Cass Sunstein, creative destruction, future of journalism, George Akerlof, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet Archive, invention of the printing press, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Louis Daguerre, new economy, prediction markets, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, software patent, transaction costs

All of these would fit on computers that would fit in this room and be able to be afforded by a small company. So we're at a turning point in our history. Universal access is the goal. And the opportunity of leading a different life, based on this, is … thrilling. It could be one of the things humankind would be most proud of. Up there with the Library of Alexandria, putting a man on the moon, and the invention of the printing press. Kahle is not the only librarian. The Internet Archive is not the only archive. But Kahle and the Internet Archive suggest what the future of libraries or archives could be. When the commercial life of creative property ends, I don't know. But it does. And whenever it does, Kahle and his archive hint at a world where this knowledge, and culture, remains perpetually available. Some will draw upon it to understand it; some to criticize it.

As one author describes Howard Armstrong's struggle to enable FM radio, An almost unlimited number of FM stations was possible in the shortwaves, thus ending the unnatural restrictions imposed on radio in the crowded longwaves. If FM were freely developed, the number of stations would be limited only by economics and competition rather than by technical restrictions… . Armstrong likened the situation that had grown up in radio to that following the invention of the printing press, when governments and ruling interests attempted to control this new instrument of mass communications by imposing restrictive licenses on it. This tyranny was broken only when it became possible for men freely to acquire printing presses and freely to run them. FM in this sense was as great an invention as the printing presses, for it gave radio the opportunity to strike off its shackles.[168] This potential for FM radio was never realized—not because Armstrong was wrong about the technology, but because he underestimated the power of "vested interests, habits, customs and legislation"[169] to retard the growth of this competing technology.


pages: 103 words: 32,131

Program Or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age by Douglas Rushkoff

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banking crisis, big-box store, citizen journalism, cloud computing, digital map, East Village, financial innovation, Firefox, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, invention of the printing press, Kevin Kelly, Marshall McLuhan, peer-to-peer, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, WikiLeaks

Unfortunately, such access is usually limited to a small elite. The Axial Age invention of the twenty-two-letter alphabet did not lead to a society of literate Israelite readers, but a society of hearers, who would gather in the town square to listen to the Torah scroll read to them by a rabbi. Yes, it was better than being ignorant slaves, but it was a result far short of the medium’s real potential. Likewise, the invention of the printing press in the Renaissance led not to a society of writers but one of readers; except for a few cases, access to the presses was reserved, by force, for the use of those already in power. Broadcast radio and television were really just extensions of the printing press: expensive, one-to-many media that promote the mass distribution of the stories and ideas of a small elite at the center. We don’t make TV; we watch it.


pages: 606 words: 157,120

To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov

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3D printing, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Automated Insights, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, citizen journalism, cloud computing, cognitive bias, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, disintermediation, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, frictionless, future of journalism, game design, Gary Taubes, Google Glasses, illegal immigration, income inequality, invention of the printing press, Jane Jacobs, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, lifelogging, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, moral panic, Narrative Science, Nicholas Carr, packet switching, PageRank, Parag Khanna, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, pets.com, placebo effect, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, smart meter, social graph, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, transaction costs, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks

For Shirky the bad cop, everything has already been determined by the information gods; all we can do is accept the inevitable and enjoy the revolutionary ride. These days there’s so much anxiety in so many industries that Shirky, using his bad cop/good cop routine, provides just the right mix of flagellation and counseling. But something else makes his style of rupture talk so appealing. Oddly enough, it’s his clever use of history—in a debate that is traditionally ahistorical—in order to establish some kind of equivalence between the invention of the printing press and the advent of “the Internet.” And it’s not just fake history of East Germany, which is actually just rational-choice theory in disguise. References to the printing press are also ubiquitous in Shirky’s writings. He dedicates several pages of his Cognitive Surplus to drawing an explicit analogy between Gutenberg’s invention and the proliferation of social media. Elsewhere, he notes, “We’re collectively living through 1500, when it’s easier to see what’s broken than what will replace it.”

Neither Jarvis nor Shirky is a historian, so in discussing the impact of the printing press—which they think is comparable to the impact of “the Internet”—both turn to the same source: Elizabeth Eisenstein’s landmark two-volume study The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, first published in 1979. Without understanding the limitations of Eisenstein’s highly disputed account of the “revolution” that followed the invention of the printing press, it’s impossible to make sense of contemporary claims for the significance of “the Internet,” not least because the stability that her account lends to “the Internet” makes her a favorite source of Internet optimists and pessimists alike (Nicholas Carr draws on Eisenstein’s work in The Shallows). Much like with rational-choice theory, what many fellow scholars believe to be rather problematic scholarship is presented as universally admired and entirely uncontroversial.


pages: 204 words: 61,491

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, Jeff Riggenbach Ph.

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, global village, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of the printing press, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, the medium is the message

Anyone who is even slightly familiar with the history of communications knows that every new technology for thinking involves a trade-off. It giveth and taketh away, although not quite in equal measure. Media change does not necessarily result in equilibrium. It sometimes creates more than it destroys. Sometimes, it is the other way around. We must be careful in praising or condemning because the future may hold surprises for us. The invention of the printing press itself is a paradigmatic example. Typography fostered the modern idea of individuality, but it destroyed the medieval sense of community and integration. Typography created prose but made poetry into an exotic and elitist form of expression. Typography made modern science possible but transformed religious sensibility into mere superstition. Typography assisted in the growth of the nation-state but thereby made patriotism into a sordid if not lethal emotion.


pages: 298 words: 81,200

Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson

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Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, cleantech, complexity theory, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, digital Maoism, digital map, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Ernest Rutherford, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, greed is good, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invention of air conditioning, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, mass immigration, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, online collectivism, packet switching, PageRank, patent troll, pattern recognition, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, six sigma, Solar eclipse in 1919, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, urban planning

An overview of how the human genetic mutation rate was calculated can be found in Elie Dolgin’s Nature News article “Human Mutation Rate Revealed.” For more on Susan Rosenberg’s research on stress and mutation rates, see her essay “Microbiology and Evolution: Modulating Mutation Rates in the Wild” in Science. For more on the “fail fast” movement, see Doug Hall’s BusinessWeek essay “Fail Fast, Fail Cheap” and Timothy Prestero’s “Better by Design.” CHAPTER 6: EXAPTATION Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press is recounted in John Man’s Gutenberg. I have also drawn upon the insights on Gutenberg’s revolution that appear in Richard Ogle’s Smart World, and Elizabeth Eisenstein’s Printing Press as an Agent of Change. Gould and Vrba’s concept of exaptation originally appeared in Paleobiology in the essay “Exaptation—A Missing Term in the Science of Form.” For more on the concept, see Buss et al’s Adaptations, Exaptations, and Spandrels.


pages: 304 words: 82,395

Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, Kenneth Cukier

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23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, AltaVista, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, Black Swan, book scanning, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cloud computing, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, dark matter, double entry bookkeeping, Eratosthenes, Erik Brynjolfsson, game design, IBM and the Holocaust, index card, informal economy, intangible asset, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Jeff Bezos, lifelogging, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, obamacare, optical character recognition, PageRank, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Post-materialism, post-materialism, random walk, recommendation engine, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

Within seconds we discover that until 1900 the term “causality” was more frequently used than “correlation,” but then the ratio reversed. We can compare writing styles and gain insights into authorship disputes. Datafication also makes plagiarism in academic works much easier to discover; as a result, a number of European politicians, including a German defense minister, have been forced to resign. An estimated 130 million unique books have been published since the invention of the printing press in the mid-fifteenth century. By 2012, seven years after Google began its book project, it had scanned over 20 million titles, more than 15 percent of the world’s written heritage—a substantial chunk. This has sparked a new academic discipline called “Culturomics”: computational lexicology that tries to understand human behavior and cultural trends through the quantitative analysis of texts.


pages: 263 words: 75,610

Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger

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en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Firefox, full text search, George Akerlof, information asymmetry, information retrieval, information trail, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, John Markoff, lifelogging, moveable type in China, Network effects, packet switching, pattern recognition, RFID, slashdot, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, The Market for Lemons, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Vannevar Bush

By the end of the sixteenth century, Europe had been flooded with printed books and pamphlets promising access to God, furthering religious and political propaganda, chronicling scientific discoveries, reviving Greek and Roman classics, and providing diversion and amusement. An important shift had taken place: external memory had become mass-produced. Yet, fundamentally remembering remained expensive. Of course, through the invention of the printing press labor costs had come down dramatically, and as the Catholic Church was losing its grip over the written word, demand for books increased substantially. But as printing moved from scribes fashioning individual copies to publishers printing hundreds or thousands of them, the cost of an individual book failed to decrease by much, because books were printed on paper, and the cost of this critical resource remained high—for centuries.


pages: 202 words: 64,725

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett, Dave Evans

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David Brooks, fear of failure, financial independence, game design, Haight Ashbury, invention of the printing press, iterative process, knowledge worker, market design, science of happiness, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs

You are going to build things (we call them prototypes), try stuff, and have a lot of fun in the process. Want a career change? This book will help you make that change, but not by sitting around trying to decide what that change is going to be. We’re going to help you think like a designer and build your future, prototype by prototype. We’re going to help you approach your own life design challenges with the same kind of curiosity and the same kind of creativity that resulted in the invention of the printing press, the lightbulb, and the Internet. Our focus is mainly on jobs and careers, because, let’s face it, we spend most of the hours of our days, and the days of our lives, at work. Work can be a daily source of enormous joy and meaning, or it can be an endless grind and waste of hours spent trying to white-knuckle our way through the misery of it all until the weekend comes. A well-designed life is not a life of drudgery.


pages: 257 words: 64,285

The End of Traffic and the Future of Transport: Second Edition by David Levinson, Kevin Krizek

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Bay Area Rapid Transit, big-box store, Chris Urmson, collaborative consumption, commoditize, crowdsourcing, DARPA: Urban Challenge, dematerialisation, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Google Hangouts, Induced demand, intermodal, invention of the printing press, jitney, John Markoff, labor-force participation, lifelogging, Lyft, means of production, megacity, Menlo Park, Network effects, Occam's razor, oil shock, place-making, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, technological singularity, Tesla Model S, the built environment, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, transportation-network company, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, urban renewal, women in the workforce, working-age population, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game, Zipcar

In contrast with the home grown digitization of music, Amazon eventually took the next step and started to completely dematerialize books, by demanding eBooks from publishers, so that the entire product could be delivered over the Internet. In contrast, while there is copyright-violating sharing of ebooks, it is not the same order of magnitude as music.144 Consider the purchase of something as straightforward as a book—a product that has only recently endured considerable change since Gutenberg's 15th century invention of the printing press. I go to a physical store. I provide the clerk a $10 bill in exchange for a book. I return home. I go to the store and purchase a virtual good such as an a gift card. I return home, scan the gift card with a camera built into my computer. The virtual good (e.g., book) is available to me, via several formats. I go online and request a book from an online retailer's database. I provide an electronic string of numbers ascribed to my credit card (which is already stored).


pages: 740 words: 217,139

The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution by Francis Fukuyama

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Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, currency manipulation / currency intervention, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, endogenous growth, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, invention of agriculture, invention of the printing press, Khyber Pass, labour market flexibility, land reform, land tenure, means of production, offshore financial centre, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, principal–agent problem, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Right to Buy, Scramble for Africa, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), spice trade, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transaction costs, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

But economic life in Han Dynasty China resembled the world described by Thomas Malthus in his Essay on the Principle of Population much more than the world that has existed since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution of the last two hundred years.6 Today, we expect increases in labor productivity (output per person) as the result of technological innovation and change. But before 1800, productivity gains were much more episodic. The invention of agriculture, the use of irrigation, the invention of the printing press, gunpowder, and long-distance sailing ships all led to productivity gains,7 but between them there were prolonged periods when population growth increased and per capita income fell. Many agrarian societies were operating at the frontier of their technological production possibilities, where further investment would not yield higher output. The only kind of economic growth possible was extensive growth, in which new land was settled and brought into cultivation, or else simply stolen from someone else.

The relationship of lordship and bondage could not be upended without a change in the consciousness of the slave, and the slave’s demand for recognition. There were many roots to this revolution in ideas. The notion that all human beings are equal in dignity or worth despite their evident natural and social differences is a Christian one, but it was not regarded by the medieval church as something to be implemented in the here and now. The Protestant Reformation, combined with the invention of the printing press, empowered individuals to read the Bible and find their way to faith without the interposition of intermediaries like the church. This reinforced the growing willingness of Europeans to question established authority that had started with recovery of the classics during the late medieval period and the Renaissance. Modern natural science—the ability to abstract general rules out of a mass of empirical data and to test causal theories through controlled experiments—created a new form of authority that was soon institutionalized in universities.


pages: 327 words: 103,336

Everything Is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer by Duncan J. Watts

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active measures, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Black Swan, butterfly effect, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, complexity theory, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, East Village, easy for humans, difficult for computers, edge city, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, framing effect, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Santayana, happiness index / gross national happiness, high batting average, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, industrial cluster, interest rate swap, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, lake wobegon effect, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, medical malpractice, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, oil shock, packet switching, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, prediction markets, pre–internet, RAND corporation, random walk, RFID, school choice, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, ultimatum game, urban planning, Vincenzo Peruggia: Mona Lisa, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize

Once again, we care about things that matter, yet it is precisely these larger, more significant predictions about the future that pose the greatest difficulties. BLACK SWANS AND OTHER “EVENTS” Nowhere is this problem of predicting the things that matter more acute than for what former derivatives trader and gadfly of the financial industry Nassim Taleb calls black swans, meaning events that—like the invention of the printing press, the storming of the Bastille, and the attacks on the World Trade Center—happen rarely but carry great import when they do.15 But what makes an event a black swan? This is where matters get confusing. We tend to speak about events as if they are separate and distinct, and can be assigned a level of importance in the way that we describe natural events such as earthquakes, avalanches, and storms by their magnitude or size.


pages: 290 words: 87,084

Branded Beauty by Mark Tungate

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augmented reality, Berlin Wall, call centre, corporate social responsibility, double helix, East Village, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, haute couture, invention of the printing press, joint-stock company, liberal capitalism, placebo effect, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, stem cell

They used orpiment (arsenic trisulphide) to keep unwanted hair at bay. Sheer headscarves or decorative headbands drew attention to this desirable feature. Remaining hair was worn long and occasionally braided, ornamented with strands of gold and pearls. Yet the demands of modesty meant that married women covered their hair with scarves or bonnets: medieval beauty was a mass of contradictions. As Dominique Paquet observes, the invention of the printing press in the 15th century enabled the wider diffusion of beauty remedies. One of the most influential documenters of such knowledge was Caterina Sforza, Countess of Forlì, a powerful Renaissance noblewoman who dabbled in alchemy. Between 1492 and 1509 she wrote Gli Experimenti, a veritable beauty manual for Renaissance women. They were urged to boil snakeskin in wine to regenerate their complexions, while an infusion of snails and mallow was said to aid hair growth.

Monte Carlo Simulation and Finance by Don L. McLeish

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Black-Scholes formula, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, compound rate of return, discrete time, distributed generation, finite state, frictionless, frictionless market, implied volatility, incomplete markets, invention of the printing press, martingale, p-value, random walk, Sharpe ratio, short selling, stochastic process, stochastic volatility, survivorship bias, the market place, transaction costs, value at risk, Wiener process, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

This requires hedges against a whole litany of disadvantageous moves of the market such as increases in the cost of borrowing, decreases in the value of assets held, changes in a foreign currency exchange rates, etc. The advanced theory of finance, like many areas where advanced mathematics plays an important part, is undergoing a revolution aided and abetted by the computer and the proliferation of powerful simulation and symbolic mathematical tools. This is the mathematical equivalent of the invention of the printing press. The numerical and computational power once reserved for the most highly trained mathematicians, scientists or engineers is now available to any competent programmer. One of the first hurdles faced before adopting stochastic or random models in finance is the recognition that for all practical purposes, the prices of equities in an efficient market are random variables, that is while they may show some dependence on fiscal and economic processes and policies, they have a component of randomness that makes them unpredictable.


pages: 394 words: 108,215

What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry by John Markoff

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Apple II, back-to-the-land, beat the dealer, Bill Duvall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Buckminster Fuller, California gold rush, card file, computer age, computer vision, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Thorp, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, general-purpose programming language, Golden Gate Park, Hacker Ethic, hypertext link, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, Jeff Rulifson, John Markoff, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Mahatma Gandhi, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, Paul Terrell, popular electronics, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Robert X Cringely, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, union organizing, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

Additionally, he was the first person to approach the design of computers from the point of view of an artist rather than that of an engineer. Coupled with an early and profound understanding of the implication of the scaling principle, he also took an important step beyond Engelbart’s notion of personal-computer-as-vehicle. He conceived of personal computing as an entirely new medium. In thinking about the computer in this way, he remembered reading about the insight of Aldus Manutius, who some forty years after the invention of the printing press established the dimensions of the modern book by understanding that it must be small enough to fit into a saddlebag. The obvious twentieth-century analogy was that a modern computer should be no larger than a notebook. It was a powerful notion, one that was originally apprehended only by a handful of people, people like Kay and Sid Fernbach, the Livermore labs’ supercomputing guru. Once Kay had the concept, though, it was impossible for him to shake it.


pages: 387 words: 111,096

Enigma by Robert Harris

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Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, British Empire, Columbine, index card, invention of the printing press, sensible shoes, Turing machine

Along the road to the right he could hear people moving in the shadows. The beams of torches glistened on the wet tarmac. Atwood conducted them past the mansion and the arboretum and through the main gate. Discussing work outside the hut was forbidden and Atwood, purely to annoy Pinker, was declaiming on the suicide of Virginia Woolf, which he held to be the greatest day for English letters since the invention of the printing press. 'I c-c-can't believe you mmm-mmm-mmm . . .' When Pinker snagged himself on a word, his whole body seemed to shake with the effort of trying to get himself free. Above his bow-tie, his face bloomed scarlet in the torchlight. They stopped and waited patiently for him. 'Mmm-mmm . . .' 'Mean that?' suggested Atwood. 'Mean that, Frank,' gasped Pinker with relief. 'Thank you.' Someone came to Atwood's support, and then Pinker's shrill voice started to argue again.


pages: 313 words: 95,077

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky

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Andrew Keen, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, c2.com, crowdsourcing, en.wikipedia.org, hiring and firing, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, Internet Archive, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, jimmy wales, Kuiper Belt, liberation theology, lump of labour, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, Merlin Mann, Metcalfe’s law, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, Picturephone, place-making, Pluto: dwarf planet, prediction markets, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social software, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, ultimatum game, Vilfredo Pareto, Yogi Berra

The fundamental tension in the pro-freedom argument is in understanding when freedom can be acceptably limited, within a framework that assumes that the bias should be toward increasing freedom. The basic tenet here is that the unforeseeable effects of freer communication will benefit society, as with the unanticipated rise of an international community of scientists and mathematicians after the invention of the printing press. Even the pro-freedom argument, though, risks overstating the degree of control we have over the change in group capabilities. To ask the question “Should we allow the spread of these social tools?” presumes that there is something we could do about it were the answer “No.” This hypothesis is suspect, precisely because of the kind of changes involved. Nuclear power is a technology that society can, for the moment, make a decision about.


pages: 299 words: 19,560

Utopias: A Brief History From Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities by Howard P. Segal

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1960s counterculture, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, complexity theory, David Brooks, death of newspapers, dematerialisation, deskilling, energy security, European colonialism, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of journalism, garden city movement, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, liberation theology, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, Nicholas Carr, Nikolai Kondratiev, out of africa, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, union organizing, urban planning, War on Poverty, Whole Earth Catalog

Meanwhile, the upbeat content of messages and programs marking the opening or expansion of those transportation and communications systems was viewed as reinforcing the technology–democracy ties.7 Equally significantly, as historian Ann Blair has detailed in her pathbreaking Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age (2010), the assumption that “information overload” is a purely late-twentieth- and twenty-first-century challenge is historical nonsense. Once Gutenberg’s fifteenth-century invention of the printing press became a fact of European life, at least for the educated elite, thousands of books became available for reading and possible purchase, and the initial rejoicing at such abundant intellectual riches eventually turned to despair. Blair quotes Erasmus, the eminent humanist of the early sixteenth century, asking whether there is “anywhere on earth exempt from these swarms of new books”?


pages: 290 words: 94,968

Writing on the Wall: Social Media - the First 2,000 Years by Tom Standage

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Bill Duvall, British Empire, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, knowledge worker, Leonard Kleinrock, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Mohammed Bouazizi, New Journalism, packet switching, place-making, Republic of Letters, sexual politics, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, yellow journalism

The paper’s proprietor, John Walter, had told them that he was expecting important news from Europe, where the major powers were in the process of redrawing the map after the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte in May that year. The Times had established a reputation for being first with the news from war-ravaged Europe, often learning of developments before the British government itself. So it was not unusual for Walter to delay the printing of the paper to allow the latest reports from Europe to be included at the last minute. Four centuries had passed since the invention of the printing press, but the Times, like other newspapers, was printed using hand presses that had changed very little since Gutenberg’s time. The frame that secured the press and the screw mechanism that pressed the type onto the paper were, by the early nineteenth century, both made of metal rather than wood, but otherwise the design would have looked familiar to a printer from the fifteenth century.


pages: 322 words: 88,197

Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson

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Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Book of Ingenious Devices, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, colonial exploitation, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Drosophila, Edward Thorp, Fellow of the Royal Society, game design, global village, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, HyperCard, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, land value tax, Landlord’s Game, lone genius, mass immigration, megacity, Minecraft, moral panic, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres, Necker cube, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, pets.com, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Oldenburg, spice trade, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, talking drums, the built environment, The Great Good Place, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, Victor Gruen, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, white picket fence, Whole Earth Catalog, working poor, Wunderkammern

All those defining experiences exist, in part, because natural selection didn’t find it necessary to perceive still images accurately at rates above twelve frames a second—and because hundreds of inventors, tinkering with the prototypes of cinema over the centuries, were smart enough to take that imperfection and turn it into art. — Art is the aftershock of technological plates shifting. Sometimes the aftershock is slow in arriving. It took the novel about three hundred years to evolve into its modern form after the invention of the printing press. The television equivalent of the novel—the complex serialized drama of The Wire or Breaking Bad—took as long as seventy years to develop, depending on where you date its origins. Sometimes the aftershocks roll in quickly: rock ’n’ roll emerged almost instantaneously after the invention of the electric guitar. But some new artistic forms are deeply bound up in technological innovation: Brunelleschi using mirrors to trick his own eye into painting with linear perspective; Walter Murch inventing surround sound to capture the swirling chaos of Vietnam in Apocalypse Now.


pages: 383 words: 81,118

Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms by David S. Evans, Richard Schmalensee

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Airbnb, Alvin Roth, big-box store, business process, cashless society, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, creative destruction, Deng Xiaoping, if you build it, they will come, information asymmetry, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Jean Tirole, John Markoff, Lyft, M-Pesa, market friction, market microstructure, mobile money, multi-sided market, Network effects, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, QR code, ride hailing / ride sharing, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber for X, Victor Gruen, winner-take-all economy

Merchants, meanwhile, often developed sufficient trust in each other, through repeated dealing, that they were willing to extend credit. One merchant, for example, sold four pieces of cloth to two other merchants who agreed to pay their debt, on demand, at any one of sixteen fairs held during a particular month in the next year.9 Now let’s move forward another several centuries. The invention of the printing press with movable type by Gutenberg around 1440 led to the explosive growth of the media business, including newspapers. Before 1800, print newspapers had begun to publish classified ads. These ran the gamut from ads for people looking for marriage, to ads for people looking to rent a room, to ads for medical wares or even haberdashery or drapery.10 According to a history of advertising by the industry publication Advertising Age, “[b]y 1800 most English and American newspapers were not only supported by advertising but were the primary medium carrying it.”11 At first, newspapers didn’t impose any structure on the classifieds, so it was hard to find things.


pages: 364 words: 99,897

The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross

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23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Brian Krebs, British Empire, business intelligence, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, connected car, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, David Brooks, disintermediation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, distributed ledger, Edward Glaeser, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, fiat currency, future of work, global supply chain, Google X / Alphabet X, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, lifelogging, litecoin, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mikhail Gorbachev, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, new economy, offshore financial centre, open economy, Parag Khanna, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, precision agriculture, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rubik’s Cube, Satoshi Nakamoto, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, social graph, software as a service, special economic zone, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, technoutopianism, The Future of Employment, underbanked, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, young professional

And that number is tiny compared with what’s to come. The explosion in data creation is a very recent occurrence, and from its inception, data storage has grown exponentially. For millennia, record keeping meant clay tablets, papyrus scrolls, or parchment and vellum made from animal skin. The first modern paper, made from wood or grass pulp, was a big advance; but the first major milestone in the mass production of data came with the invention of the printing press. In the first 50 years after the first printing press appeared, 8 million books were printed—more than all the books produced by European scribes in the prior millennium. With the successive inventions of telegraph, telephone, radio, television, and computers, the amount of data in the world grew rapidly during the 20th century. By 1996, there was so much data and computing had gotten sufficiently inexpensive that digital storage became more cost-effective than paper systems for the first time.


pages: 319 words: 90,965

The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere by Kevin Carey

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Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, business intelligence, carbon-based life, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, David Heinemeier Hansson, declining real wages, deliberate practice, discrete time, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Downton Abbey, Drosophila, Firefox, Frank Gehry, Google X / Alphabet X, informal economy, invention of the printing press, inventory management, John Markoff, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, Network effects, open borders, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, transcontinental railway, Vannevar Bush

The medieval university worked in this way for the next few centuries, expanding to more locations in Europe and beyond. It was not always the center of intellectual life—the great artists and scholars of the Renaissance did not work at universities—but it continued to grow, adapting to the last great information technology revolution in higher education before the current one: Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in the mid-fifteenth century. This was not the first time that teachers had been confronted with new learning technology. Millennia before, another invention had upset those wedded to traditional teaching methods: the written word. In the Phaedrus, Socrates tells the story of a conversation between two gods, Theuth and Thamus. Theuth was “the inventor of many arts, such as arithmetic and calculation and geometry and astronomy and draughts and dice, but his great discovery was the use of letters.”


pages: 299 words: 98,943

Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization by Stephen Cave

Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, back-to-the-land, clean water, double helix, George Santayana, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Lao Tzu, life extension, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, stem cell, technoutopianism, the scientific method

Elizabeth I of England, for example, redefined herself through a public image that mixed the symbolism of majesty, piety and power with elements proclaiming her as a unique and irreplaceable individual. Meanwhile you could be boiled alive for reproducing her image in the wrong way. Today opportunities for symbolic reproduction are no longer available only to pharaohs and emperors. We are each reproduced in hundreds of baby photos, holiday snaps and home videos. Indeed, with the digital revolution, we are now living through the greatest opening of the cultural sphere since the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century. It has never been easier to leave an impression in the shared space of symbols: with the minimum of computing power and know-how, it can be achieved in minutes. At the start of 2011, there were 158 million blogs (personal Web pages that are—in theory at least—updated regularly with the views of the blogger), with tens of thousands more being added every day.


pages: 275 words: 84,980

Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin: From Money That We Understand to Money That Understands Us (Perspectives) by David Birch

agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, bank run, banks create money, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Broken windows theory, Burning Man, capital controls, cashless society, Clayton Christensen, clockwork universe, creative destruction, credit crunch, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, dematerialisation, Diane Coyle, distributed ledger, double entry bookkeeping, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, fault tolerance, fiat currency, financial exclusion, financial innovation, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, index card, informal economy, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, Irish bank strikes, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, large denomination, M-Pesa, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, new economy, Northern Rock, Pingit, prediction markets, price stability, QR code, quantitative easing, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Real Time Gross Settlement, reserve currency, Satoshi Nakamoto, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, smart contracts, social graph, special drawing rights, technoutopianism, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, wage slave, Washington Consensus, wikimedia commons

The distributed ledger technology of the tally had been used to convert a means for deferred payment into a store of value and then into a means of exchange, and the sticks remained in widespread use for hundreds of years. The Bank of England, being a sensible and conservative institution naturally suspicious of new technologies, continued to use wooden tally sticks until 1826: some 500 years after the invention of double-entry bookkeeping and 400 years after Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. At this time, the Bank came up with a wonderful British compromise: they would switch to paper but they would keep the tallies as a backup (who knew whether the whole ‘printing’ thing would work out, after all) until the last person who knew how to use them had died. Medieval tally sticks. (Source: Winchester City Council Museums (Flickr), via Wikimedia Commons.) Thus, tally sticks like the ones shown in figure 6 were then taken out of circulation and stored in the Houses of Parliament until 1834, when the authorities decided that the tallies were no longer required and that they should be burned.


pages: 538 words: 141,822

The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom by Evgeny Morozov

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, don't be evil, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global village, Google Earth, illegal immigration, invention of radio, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Marshall McLuhan, Naomi Klein, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, peer-to-peer, pirate software, pre–internet, Productivity paradox, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Sinatra Doctrine, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, social graph, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, The Wisdom of Crowds, urban planning, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

If policymakers lack a good theoretical account of what makes those societies tick, no amount of Internet-theorizing will allow them to formulate effective policies for using the Internet to promote democracy. Is There History After Twitter? It’s tempting to see technology as some kind of a missing link that can help us make sense of otherwise unrelated events known as human history. Why search for more complex reasons if the establishment of democratic forms of government in Europe could be explained by the invention of the printing press? As the economic historian Robert Heilbroner observed in 1994, “history as contingency is a prospect that is more than the human spirit can bear.” Technological determinism—the belief that certain technologies are bound to produce certain social, cultural, and political effects—is attractive precisely because “it creates powerful scenarios, clear stories, and because it accords with the dominant experience in the West,” write Steve Graham and Simon Marvin, two scholars of urban geography.


pages: 525 words: 116,295

The New Digital Age: Transforming Nations, Businesses, and Our Lives by Eric Schmidt, Jared Cohen

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3D printing, access to a mobile phone, additive manufacturing, airport security, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, anti-communist, augmented reality, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, bitcoin, borderless world, call centre, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, clean water, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, Dean Kamen, drone strike, Elon Musk, failed state, fear of failure, Filter Bubble, Google Earth, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, information trail, invention of the printing press, job automation, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, market fundamentalism, means of production, mobile money, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, offshore financial centre, Parag Khanna, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, Peter Singer: altruism, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Robert Bork, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, The Wisdom of Crowds, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, young professional, zero day

It is, as the military scholar Peter Singer notes in his masterly account of this trend, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, what scientists would call a “singularity”—a “state in which things become so radically different that the old rules break down and we know virtually nothing.” Much as with other paradigm shifts in history (germ theory, the invention of the printing press, Einstein’s theory of relativity), it is almost impossible to predict with any great accuracy how the eventual change to fully automated warfare will alter the course of human society. All we can do is consider the clues we see today, convey the thinking of people on the front lines, and make some educated guesses. Integrating information technology into the mechanics of warfare is not a new trend: DARPA, the Pentagon’s research-and-development arm, was created in 1958 as a response to the launch of Sputnik.4 The government’s determination to avoid being caught off guard again was such that DARPA’s mission is, quite literally, “to maintain the technological superiority of the U.S. military and prevent technological surprise from harming our national security.”


pages: 607 words: 133,452

Against Intellectual Monopoly by Michele Boldrin, David K. Levine

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, agricultural Revolution, barriers to entry, cognitive bias, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Dean Kamen, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, endogenous growth, Ernest Rutherford, experimental economics, financial innovation, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of radio, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jean Tirole, John Harrison: Longitude, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, linear programming, market bubble, market design, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, new economy, open economy, peer-to-peer, pirate software, placebo effect, price discrimination, profit maximization, rent-seeking, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, software patent, the market place, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Y2K

For at least three thousand years, musical and literary works have been created in pretty much every society, and in the complete absence – in fact, often under the explicit prohibition – of any kind of copyright protection. For the economic and legal theories of “no innovation without monopolization,” this plain fact is as inexplicable a mystery as the Catholic dogma of virginitas ante partum is for most of us.26 To see the actual impact of copyright on creativity, let us start with some history. Copyright emerged in different European countries only after the invention of the printing press. Copyright originated not to protect the profits of authors from copyists or to encourage creation, but rather as an instrument of government censorship. Royal and religious powers arrogated to themselves the right to decide what could and could not be safely printed. Hence, the right to copy was a concession of the powerful to the citizenry to print and read what the powerful thought proper to print and read; Galileo’s trial was nothing more than an exercise in copyright enforcement by the pope of Rome.


pages: 494 words: 116,739

Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change From the Cult of Technology by Kentaro Toyama

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active measures, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, blood diamonds, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, computer vision, conceptual framework, delayed gratification, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, end world poverty, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fundamental attribution error, germ theory of disease, global village, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Khan Academy, Kibera, knowledge worker, liberation theology, libertarian paternalism, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, microcredit, mobile money, Nicholas Carr, North Sea oil, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, Powell Memorandum, randomized controlled trial, rent-seeking, RFID, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, school vouchers, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Upton Sinclair, Walter Mischel, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, World Values Survey, Y2K

Thanks to advances such as modern medicine, air conditioning, cheap transport, and real-time communication, middle-class people today enjoy a quality of life that kings and queens didn’t have a century ago. There’s a reason, utopians argue, why historical epochs are named after technologies – the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the Industrial Age, the Information Age – and why human culture flourished after the invention of the printing press. But whatever they say and write, what most unites utopians is how they feel about technology. They love it, and they want more. Many believe that every kind of problem can be solved by some invention, often one that is right around the corner. Whether the issue is poverty, bad governance, or climate change, they say things like, “[There] is no limit to human ingenuity,” and “When seen through the lens of technology, few resources are truly scarce.”7 Besotted with gadgets, technological utopians scoff at social institutions like governments, civil society, and traditional firms, which they pity as slow, costly, behind the times, or all of the above.


pages: 422 words: 131,666

Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back by Douglas Rushkoff

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affirmative action, Amazon Mechanical Turk, banks create money, big-box store, Bretton Woods, car-free, colonial exploitation, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, computer age, corporate governance, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, death of newspapers, don't be evil, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, easy for humans, difficult for computers, financial innovation, Firefox, full employment, global village, Google Earth, greed is good, Howard Rheingold, income per capita, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, loss aversion, market bubble, market design, Marshall McLuhan, Milgram experiment, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, negative equity, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, peak oil, peer-to-peer, place-making, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, price stability, principal–agent problem, private military company, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, RFID, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, social software, Steve Jobs, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, trade route, trickle-down economics, union organizing, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, Victor Gruen, white flight, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Y2K, young professional, zero-sum game

Building on the logic of Petrarch, Descartes concluded that man could know the world around him only by using perception and deduction. But instead of resorting to animism, Descartes turned to the logic of science. His Cartesian coordinate system described space and movement within it purely in terms of an x, y, and z axis. This led to maps with latitude and longitude lines, as well as analytic geometry and calculus. The invention of the printing press turned reading, literature, and Bible study from a group activity into an individual one. Instead of listening to a priest read from a sacred manuscript, people (at least the rich ones) could now read from mass-produced texts. To read individually meant interpreting texts as an individual. The gentleman sat in his study alone, reading great works and developing his own perspective. To read one’s Bible without any intermediary meant developing one’s own concept of God.


pages: 382 words: 120,064

Bank 3.0: Why Banking Is No Longer Somewhere You Go but Something You Do by Brett King

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbus A320, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, asset-backed security, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bitcoin, bounce rate, business intelligence, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, capital controls, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, en.wikipedia.org, fixed income, George Gilder, Google Glasses, high net worth, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Infrastructure as a Service, invention of the printing press, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, London Interbank Offered Rate, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, Metcalfe’s law, microcredit, mobile money, more computing power than Apollo, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, optical character recognition, peer-to-peer, performance metric, Pingit, platform as a service, QR code, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, self-driving car, Skype, speech recognition, stem cell, telepresence, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, underbanked, US Airways Flight 1549, web application

Sounds like science fiction? In this case you can expect to start to see media walls and in-built displays being deployed everywhere within the next four to five years. They will be commonplace by 2016–18. Electronic Paper Very closely related to soft-screen or OLED improvements is the area of electronic paper. This has been termed the most significant development in print technology since the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg in 1440. It was actually in the 1970s that Nick Sheridon at the Xerox Palo-Alto Research Centre developed the first e-paper. This electronic paper, called Gyricon,13 consisted of polyethylene spheres embedded in a transparent silicon sheet. Depending on whether a negative or positive charge is applied, the spheres would translate into a pixel that emits either a black or white appearance, thus looking a lot like normal paper.


pages: 467 words: 114,570

Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science by Jim Al-Khalili

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Book of Ingenious Devices, colonial rule, Commentariolus, Dmitri Mendeleev, Eratosthenes, Henri Poincaré, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Joseph Schumpeter, liberation theology, retrograde motion, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, trade route, William of Occam

This revolutionary new way of learning about the world, as exemplified by the work of Copernicus and Galileo, focusing on empirical evidence rather than on the Aristotelian ‘final cause’, was, we now know, already well established in the tenth and eleventh centuries by al-Rāzi, Ibn al-Haytham and al-Bīrūni. There were many factors in the European Renaissance that undoubtedly influenced the rate of scientific progress, such as the invention of the printing press, which allowed the transmission of new ideas far more rapidly than before, just as the paper mill had done for the Abbāsids. Other, later, inventions such as the telescope and microscope revolutionized astronomy, biology and medicine. Between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries we do indeed see a marked drop in the sheer volume of original scientific output across the Islamic world.


pages: 476 words: 120,892

Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology by Johnjoe McFadden, Jim Al-Khalili

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, bioinformatics, complexity theory, dematerialisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Ernest Rutherford, Gödel, Escher, Bach, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Louis Pasteur, New Journalism, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, theory of mind, traveling salesman, uranium enrichment, Zeno's paradox

To get some idea of this extraordinary level of accuracy, consider the one million or so letters, punctuation marks and spaces in this book. Now consider one thousand similarly sized books in a library and imagine you had the job of faithfully copying every single character and space. How many errors do you think you would make? This was precisely the task performed by medieval scribes, who did their best to hand-copy texts before the invention of the printing press. Their efforts were, not surprisingly, riddled with errors, as shown by the variety of divergent copies of medieval texts. Of course, computers are able to copy information with a very high degree of fidelity, but they do so with the hard edges of modern electronic digital technology. Imagine building a copying machine out of wet, squishy material. How many errors do you think it would make in reading and writing its copied information?


pages: 437 words: 113,173

Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance by Ian Goldin, Chris Kutarna

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, clean water, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Dava Sobel, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, experimental economics, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, full employment, Galaxy Zoo, global supply chain, Hyperloop, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial cluster, industrial robot, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, low cost carrier, low skilled workers, Lyft, Malacca Straits, mass immigration, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, Network effects, New Urbanism, non-tariff barriers, Occupy movement, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, open economy, Panamax, Pearl River Delta, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, post-Panamax, profit motive, rent-seeking, reshoring, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, Snapchat, special economic zone, spice trade, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stuxnet, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, uranium enrichment, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, zero day

Through five centuries, we have carefully preserved such Renaissance masterpieces, and cherished them, as objects of beauty and inspiration. But they also challenge us. The artists who crafted these feats of genius five hundred years ago did not inhabit some magical age of universal beauty, but rather a tumultuous moment—marked by historic milestones and discoveries, yes, but also wrenching upheaval. Their world was tangling together in a way it had never done before, thanks to Gutenberg’s recent invention of the printing press (1450s), Columbus’s discovery of the New World (1492) and Vasco da Gama’s discovery of a sea route to Asia’s riches (1497). And humanity’s fortunes were changing, in some ways radically. The Black Death had tapered off, Europe’s population was recovering, and public health, wealth and education were all rising. Genius flourished under these conditions, as evidenced by artistic achievements (especially from the 1490s to the 1520s), by Copernicus’s revolutionary theories of a sun-centered cosmos (1510s), and by similar advances in a wide range of fields, from biology to engineering to navigation to medicine.


pages: 494 words: 28,046

Empire by Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri

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Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, collective bargaining, colonial rule, conceptual framework, discovery of the americas, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global village, Haight Ashbury, informal economy, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, labour mobility, late capitalism, low skilled workers, mass immigration, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, New Urbanism, open borders, Peace of Westphalia, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, Scramble for Africa, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, union organizing, urban planning, William of Occam

Modern sovereignty emerged, then, as the concept of European reaction and European domination both within and outside its borders. They are two coextensive and complementary faces of one development: rule within Europe and European rule over the world. The Revolutionary Plane of Immanence It all began with a revolution. In Europe, between 1200 and 1600, across distances that only merchants and armies could travel and only the invention of the printing press would later bring together, something extraordinary happened. Humans declared themselves masters of their own lives, producers of cities and history, and inventors of heavens. They inherited a dualistic consciousness, a hierarchical vision of society, and a metaphysical idea of science; but they handed down to future generations an experimental idea TWO EUROPES, TWO MODERNITIES of science, a constituent conception of history and cities, and they posed being as an immanent terrain of knowledge and action.


pages: 540 words: 168,921

The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism by Joyce Appleby

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1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, Bartolomé de las Casas, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Columbian Exchange, commoditize, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Doha Development Round, double entry bookkeeping, epigenetics, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, Firefox, fixed income, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francisco Pizarro, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gordon Gekko, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, informal economy, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, land reform, Livingstone, I presume, Long Term Capital Management, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, moral hazard, Parag Khanna, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, refrigerator car, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, strikebreaker, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Yogi Berra, Yom Kippur War

Deepal Lal goes back even farther in time to the eleventh century, where he finds the roots of the “Great Divergence” in papal decrees that established a common commercial law for all of Christendom.3 The Latin motto post hoc, ergo propter hoc reminds us that because something happened before something else, it is not necessarily a cause of the following event. The emergence of capitalism was not a general phenomenon, but one specific to time and place. People who take the long-run-up view of the emergence of capitalism note factors like the discovery of the New World, the invention of the printing press, the use of clocks, or papal property arrangements. These were present in countries that did not change their economic ways. Logically, widely shared developments can’t explain a response that was unique to one country. What the myriad theories about how the West broke with its past do have right is that there were many, many elements that went into capitalism’s breakout from its traditional origins.


pages: 829 words: 186,976

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-But Some Don't by Nate Silver

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airport security, availability heuristic, Bayesian statistics, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, Carmen Reinhart, Claude Shannon: information theory, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversification, Donald Trump, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, en.wikipedia.org, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, fear of failure, Fellow of the Royal Society, Freestyle chess, fudge factor, George Akerlof, haute cuisine, Henri Poincaré, high batting average, housing crisis, income per capita, index fund, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, locking in a profit, Loma Prieta earthquake, market bubble, Mikhail Gorbachev, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Monroe Doctrine, mortgage debt, Nate Silver, negative equity, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pets.com, Pierre-Simon Laplace, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, random walk, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, savings glut, security theater, short selling, Skype, statistical model, Steven Pinker, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, transaction costs, transfer pricing, University of East Anglia, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wikimedia commons

It seemed obvious to him that a more thorough understanding of probability was essential to scientific progress.32 The intimate connection between probability, prediction, and scientific progress was thus well understood by Bayes and Laplace in the eighteenth century—the period when human societies were beginning to take the explosion of information that had become available with the invention of the printing press several centuries earlier, and finally translate it into sustained scientific, technological, and economic progress. The connection is essential—equally to predicting the orbits of the planets and the winner of the Lakers’ game. As we will see, science may have stumbled later when a different statistical paradigm, which deemphasized the role of prediction and tried to recast uncertainty as resulting from the errors of our measurements rather than the imperfections in our judgments, came to dominate in the twentieth century.


pages: 778 words: 227,196

The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes

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Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, British Empire, Copley Medal, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, Etonian, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Harrison: Longitude, music of the spheres, placebo effect, polynesian navigation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, trade route, unbiased observer, University of East Anglia, éminence grise

Left alone by two companions amidst the ruins, he finds himself addressed by an invisible presence, ‘which I shall call that of Genius’. Davy is told a sort of scientific creation myth, a Promethean version of man’s growing material dominion over the earth. From his primitive tribal beginnings, art and technology lifts man above the wild animals, until such global developments as chemistry, engineering, medicine and the ‘Faustian’ invention of the printing press bring an advanced Western civilisation.120 This account by Genius includes some racial theory about the ‘superiority of the Caucasian stock’ of a type familiar to students of Blumenbach. But Genius also makes an uneasy prophecy of colonial persecutions, of the kind that Banks would have recognised. ‘The negro race has always been driven before the conquerors of the world; and the red men, the aborigines of America, are constantly diminishing in number, and it is probable that in a few centuries their pure blood will be entirely extinct.’121 These increasingly unsettling visions culminate in a visit to a society of extraterrestrial beings on Saturn and Jupiter, by means of a shuttle network of comets.


pages: 828 words: 232,188

Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy by Francis Fukuyama

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, Atahualpa, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, British Empire, centre right, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, conceptual framework, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Snowden, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, information asymmetry, invention of the printing press, iterative process, knowledge worker, land reform, land tenure, life extension, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, means of production, Menlo Park, Mohammed Bouazizi, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, new economy, open economy, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, Port of Oakland, post-industrial society, Post-materialism, post-materialism, price discrimination, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, stem cell, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vilfredo Pareto, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

In agrarian societies, a person’s important life choices—where to live, what to do for a living, what religion to practice, whom to marry—were mostly determined by the surrounding tribe, village, or caste. Individuals consequently did not spend a lot of time sitting around asking themselves, “Who am I, really?” According to Anderson, all this begins to change with the emergence of commercial capitalism in sixteenth-century Europe, powered by the invention of the printing press and the growth of a market for books. The printing press sharply reduced the price of written communication and thus made possible publication of books in vernacular languages. Martin Luther, writing in German rather than Latin, became a bestselling author early in the sixteenth century and as a result played a key role in creating a sense of common German culture. Luther told his readers, moreover, that their salvation did not rest on conformity with rituals defined by the Roman Catholic church.


pages: 636 words: 202,284

Piracy : The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates by Adrian Johns

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active measures, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, business intelligence, commoditize, Corn Laws, demand response, distributed generation, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, full employment, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Marshall McLuhan, Mont Pelerin Society, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, pirate software, Republic of Letters, Richard Stallman, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, software patent, South Sea Bubble, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, traveling salesman, Whole Earth Catalog

For although appropriators of ideas may always have existed, societies have not always recognized a specific concept of intellectual piracy. Far from being timeless, that concept is in fact not even ancient. It arose in the context of Western Europe in the early modern period – the years of religious and political upheaval surrounding the Reformation and the scientific revolution. In particular, it owed its origin to the cultural transformations set in train by Johann Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. At the origin of the history of piracy thus lies one of the defining events of Western civilization. Printing posed serious problems of politics and authority for the generations following Gutenberg. It was in the process of grappling with those problems that they came up with the notion of piracy. At their heart was the question of how to conform the new enterprise to their existing societies.


pages: 855 words: 178,507

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick

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Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, bank run, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, citation needed, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, Donald Knuth, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, lifelogging, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, Simon Singh, Socratic dialogue, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, talking drums, the High Line, The Wisdom of Crowds, transcontinental railway, Turing machine, Turing test, women in the workforce

A new entry as of December 2003 memorialized nucular: “= nuclear a. (in various senses).” Yet they refuse to count evident misprints found by way of Internet searches. They do not recognize straight-laced, even though statistical evidence finds that bastardized form outnumbering strait-laced. For the crystallization of spelling, the OED offers a conventional explanation: “Since the invention of the printing press, spelling has become much less variable, partly because printers wanted uniformity and partly because of a growing interest in language study during the Renaissance.” This is true. But it omits the role of the dictionary itself, arbitrator and exemplar. For Cawdrey the dictionary was a snapshot; he could not see past his moment in time. Samuel Johnson was more explicitly aware of the dictionary’s historical dimension.


pages: 687 words: 189,243

A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy by Joel Mokyr

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Andrei Shleifer, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Copley Medal, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, Deng Xiaoping, Edmond Halley, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, framing effect, germ theory of disease, Haber-Bosch Process, hindsight bias, income inequality, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, land tenure, law of one price, Menlo Park, moveable type in China, new economy, phenotype, price stability, principal–agent problem, rent-seeking, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, survivorship bias, the market place, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, ultimatum game, World Values Survey, Wunderkammern

More than a century later, François Rozier (1734–1793), publisher of the Observations sur la Physique, sur l’Histoire Naturelle, et sur les Arts (widely regarded as the first independent periodical to be concerned wholly with advances in cutting-edge science), assured the American Philosophical Society that “all of Europe will be informed in less than three months” if they sent the new information first to him and that such correspondence would be “indispensable for the progress of science” (quoted in McClellan, 1979, p. 444). Eisenstein and others have stressed the importance of the invention of the printing press to the evolution of the Republic of Letters, although Fumaroli (2015, pp. 24, 37) points out that the first use of the term, by the Venetian politician and humanist intellectual Francesco Barbaro, predates the first press by at least three decades. Much less discussed than printing but of great importance in the operation of the Republic of Letters was the improvement in the continent-wide flow of mail.


pages: 1,351 words: 385,579

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

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1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, Broken windows theory, California gold rush, Cass Sunstein, citation needed, clean water, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Columbine, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, crack epidemic, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, demographic transition, desegregation, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, experimental subject, facts on the ground, failed state, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fudge factor, full employment, George Santayana, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, global village, Henri Poincaré, Hobbesian trap, humanitarian revolution, impulse control, income inequality, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, long peace, loss aversion, Marshall McLuhan, mass incarceration, McMansion, means of production, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Singer: altruism, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Republic of Letters, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, security theater, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, statistical model, stem cell, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, Turing machine, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, V2 rocket, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

One could just as easily make the opposite prediction: if you have firsthand experience of pain and deprivation, you should be unwilling to inflict them on others, whereas if you have lived a cushy life, the suffering of others is less real to you. I will return to the life-was-cheap hypothesis in the final chapter, but for now we must seek other candidates for an exogenous change that made people more compassionate. One technology that did show a precocious increase in productivity before the Industrial Revolution was book production. Before Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in 1452, every copy of a book had to be written out by hand. Not only was the process time-consuming—it took thirty-seven persondays to produce the equivalent of a 250-page book—but it was inefficient in materials and energy. Handwriting is harder to read than type is, and so handwritten books had to be larger, using up more paper and making the book more expensive to bind, store, and ship.