You are on page 1of 16

Hyper Literacy in the Exponential Epoch

Henry Kannberg. 2013 (Common Era).

Life is not the same. Consciousness is not the same 1. And in particular since it interests me the most reading and writing are not the same. A gargantuan shift has occurred and, since history or evolution have not ended, is occurring. It unfolds in unpredictable ways, enmeshing itself into the fabric of our everyday lives at unorthodox angles, challenging preconceived assumptions, throwing the fixed into flux . I was born in 1!"#, a mere seven years after the invention of email by $ay %omlinson and the creation of the first eboo& '(ichael )art from *ro+ect ,utenberg-s mainframe version of the American .eclaration of Independence, depending on your definition of an eboo&/0. %his was +ust over a decade before the creation of the web on 1 August 1!!1 as a result of the intermarriage of hypertext and the internet by %im 2erners3Lee. In the intervening /4 years since my inception in the world, all has been transformed. 5e now inhabit a world of labyrinths upon labyrinths that 6orge Luis 2orges himself could barely have imagined. 5hatever one calls itth the %hird 5ave7, the 8ourth $evolution4, the *ost3,utenberg
1 9ne of the most interesting :uestions of what the long3term effects of the era of hyper3abundance of information are is the :uestion of the precise neuroscience involved; are our brains themselves being rewired, particularly in light of neuroplasticity and discussion of the development of a hive mind< Is this something to fear, or a new and exciting frontier of evolution and natural selection< 6ames (artin in =After the Internet; Alien Intelligence> ' ???, p.1?0 raises the :uestion of whether electronic life, which can =mutate trillions of times faster than biological life> as a result of =billions of machines lin&ed by speed3of3light telecommunications>, might in fact be a part of nature-s grand design. )eraclitus almost observed that one can never step into the same cyber3river twice. / @ee, for example, the wor& of (arie Lebert. th Are we now living, for instance, in 6ames (artin-s wired society, in .aniel 2ell-s post3industrial society, in (anuel Castells- networ& society, or in Abigniew 2rBeBins&i-s technotronic society< And beyond the :uestion of what we call it, there is also the :uestion of when we date it from. .oes the *ost3,utenbergian Age begin with the invention of something physical such as the transistor or the personal computer by (ichael 5ise in 1!"4 'the @phere 10, the birth of Alan %uring, Cannevar 2ush-s memex idea in 1!74 or something more abstract such as Claude @hannon-s invention of the binary system of the bit< 9r, at a meta3level, does it date from the moment that it comes into consciousness itself, when somebody declares that we have reached a new age of information< If (arshall (cLuhan believed his time period to be as far advanced into the new period as the DliBabethans were into the age of printing, are we to concur, or see his period instead as the early foreshadowings of the period< 7 Alvin %offler, =%he %hird 5ave> '1!#?0. )ere, the first wave is characterised as the agricultural shift in the Eeolithic revolution and the second wave is industrial society. 4 %he concept of a 8ourth $evolution arises in the wor& of a thin&er such as Luciano 8loridi. In =Information; A Cery @hort Introduction> ' ?1?0, p.#, for instance, he sees the information revolution which he dates from the 1!4?s as being a further development after the Copernican revolution 'we are not the centre of the universe0, the .arwinian revolution 'we are not separate from the animal &ingdom0 and the 8reudian revolution 'the mind is in many ways unconscious and sub+ect to the defence mechanism of repression0. )ere 8loridi puts forward the idea that we are inforgs '=interconnected informational organisms>0 that exist in a global environment of information, the infosphere. Adopting a different historical overview, 6eremie Averous sees the 8ourth $evolution as following the first 'speech, around 1??,??? years ago, which led into the nomadic hunter3gatherer age0F the second 'writing, around 1?,??? years ago, which led into the agricultural age or, alternatively, the Eeolithic $evolution0F and the third 'broadcasting, around 14?? A. with the invention of moveable type printing, which led into the industrial age0 see, for example, https; According to %om *ettitt, the period from the fifteenth century to the internet era is one that can be described as being a -,utenberg parenthesis- for example in =8ol& Cultures and .igital Cultures> ' ?1/0. In this view, the ,utenberg parenthesis was one where the left brain dominated in general terms. %his raises the tantalising :uestion of whether or not the current stage of literary evolution is one that promises a balance between left and right brain approaches, or by extenstion between C.*.@now-s two cultures, in a fresh and novel manner. Incidentally, I am not sure whether or not the idea of a -8ourth $evolution-, however one defines it, relates in any way to a concept of a -fourth wave of feminism-.

,alaxy1, the .igital Age, the Dlectronic Dra, the Communication $evolution, the )ypertextual *eriod, the Dxponential Dpoch it has led to a reshaping and transmogrification that is so enormous it is not always easy to live within this time period and to be able to step bac& and gain the perspective on the change that comes with the benefit of long historical hindsight. %he microcosmic puBBles and pleasures of the everyday sometimes cloud our vision. @ometimes we miss, or at least ta&e for granted, the information tectonic shifts, the earth:ua&es, the collisions of continents, the *angaean fracturings, the )imalayas of ideas that have been generated, that are being generated, that will be generated. @ometimes, whether consciously or not, we fall into habits of thought and behaviour that are the remnants of previous eras of language and communication as anachronistic as .on Huixote wandering in a picares:ue fashion around a seventeenth century @panish ,olden Age" believing himself to still be living in a feudal and chivalric world. 5hatever our nomenclature for it, it is everywhere. $ooms themselves are not the same as they once were. %oday I wor& in a primary school. 5hen I was at primary school in the late 1!#?s there was a computer in our classroom. It was a 22C (icro. Although it was extraordinary at the time, and seemed li&e some sort of gift from some portal to another dimension, the total memory of the computer was of course a mere fraction of the memory and capability of the computer on which I am currently typing this. It did not deal, it does not need stating, in gigabytes, petabytes, exabytes, Bettabytes or :uantum computing :uibits. 2ut it did hint, promise, suggest, foreshadow particularly of what the 5illiam ,ibsonian idea of cyberspace would later come to be. $ole3 playing games that I remember clearly such as =,ranny-s ,arden> or printed boo&s such as the 6ac&son and Livingstone adventures# were tantalising harbingers and adumbrations of the non3 linear, meandering +ourneys and voyages in cyberspace that is the central essence of the web 'in the absence of having yet discovered the wor& of 6ulio CortaBar0!. @o the computer was also different in another profound way, beyond the :uestion of processing power, aesthetics of interface and (oore-s Law. It was isolated. It was not a node in the internet nexus 1?. It was not interconnected. It was not networ&ed into what (anuel Castells calls the space of flows or timeless time11. A friend and I spent an inordinate number of hours wor&ing on a pro+ect about the Isle of 5ight where we programmed a picture of the Isle of 5ight by painsta&ingly coding each line in 2A@IC, one at a time, to represent the island-s coastline. %oday, of course, we could have started a school pro+ect about the Isle of 5ight by copying and pasting an image of it on a creative commons basis. 2ut in retrospect what stri&es me more than the meticulous labour involved in doing what
1 %his is a term that references (arshall (cLuhan-s visionary =%he ,utenberg ,alaxy; %he (a&ing of %ypographic (an> '1!1 0. @ee for example the wor& of @tevan )arnad, who sees the *ost3,utenberg ,alaxy as being the =fourth revolution in the means of production of &nowledge> 3 again the concept is based on the rise of language, writing and print as the first three revolutions. 8rancisco (anuel de Costa refers to it as the -2ytenbergperiod. Ising a slightly different framewor& of reference and numbering, 6ason (er&os&i, =2urning the *age; the e2oo& $evolution and the 8uture of $eading> ' ?1/0 sees the digital as the fifth main medium for literacy after clay tablets '@umeria, 1??? years ago0F papyrus 'Dgypt, a similar time period ago0F parchment 'about 4?? years ago0 and paper ' ??? years ago0. " A contemporary .on Huixote would no doubt tilt at wind turbines, since in ?1/ @pain became the first country in the world for whom wind power was the main source of energy. # A recent wor& which reminds me of those boo&s is $ichard (oore, =*aper *ong> ' ??#0. ! *erhaps at some level role3playing games with their mixture of decision3ma&ing over routes to be ta&en helped my generation to prepare for reading in the world of hypertext rather than linear text. 5e have been choosing whether to move up or down, left or right, and whether to open the magic portal or progress down the crepuscular staircase ever since. 8or more on games and their deeper meanings, see for example 6ane (c,onigal, =$eality Is 2ro&en; 5hy ,ames (a&e Is 2etter and )ow %hey Can Change the 5orld> ' ?110. 1? Eot being networ&ed meant that we were not able to participate in what Jochai 2en&ler calls the -wealth of networ&s-, an echo of Adam-s @mith-s -wealth of nations-. 11 9ur sense of time has been affected by the extraordinary exponential changes and accelerations of our period. 9nce we had future shoc&. Eow, according to .ouglas $ush&off, we have present shoc&. As $...Laing put it, in an earlier period 3 =5e live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.>

now seem relatively simple things on computers was the way in which the computer itself has changed its role in that particular room. Eow it is a portal to an exponential expansion and a hyper3 abundance of information, ideas, &nowledge, concepts, discussions, controversies and consensuses. %oday I wor& in a primary school that, ostensibly, is remar&ably similar to the one I remember from almost three decades ago. 9n the surface, all is recognisable and in one corner of the current room, +ust as in the past one, there is a boo&shelf with approximately two hundred boo&s in it, descendents of the fifteenth century ,utenbergian revolution of moveable type printing. Jet in the corner now there is a computer that is a portal to the explosion of expression and communication of the internet. )ad I been loc&ed into the classroom in the 1!#?s with enough food and water to survive, there would have been a finite limit to the number of words that could have been read in that room. %he finite number of words was based on physicality on the in& on paper, derived of course from trees. %here might have been a -de facto- infinity of the words of imagination in that room in the one hundred billion neurons of any single child-s brain, but in terms of the external, :uantifiable number of words there was a limit, and a particular number, with a definable endpoint. %oday, loc&ed into the classroom there would be, effectively, an infinity of reading that could be done, reading that is the product of the virtual and the digital, a shift to a form of abstraction1 beyond the directly physical that does not render the physical irrelevant or unimportant but which reshapes our entire relationship to it1/ a shift to an abstraction that is a bit li&e the
1 Eicholas Eegroponte, =2eing .igital> '1!!40 made the distinction between atoms 'the real0 and bits 'the digital0 and predicted that the process of digitisation would ensure that everything that can be will be translated from the former to the latter. A technology such as /. printing raises the tantalising prospect of bits being retranslated into atoms. 1/ 9ne of the most intriguing areas of change, and one of the great controversies of the age, is the :uestion of what constitutes money and currency in this time period particularly with the fragmentation of the 2retton 5oods monetary system and the Eixon shoc& of 1!"1 that too& the dollar 'effectively the world reserve currency0 off its last real connection to gold. 9n one side of the debate there are those who see& to institute something physical, fungible and finite such as gold 'or a bimetallic standard with silver as well, or perhaps a four3way standard with platinum and palladium0 as the basic standard of moneyF others loo& to systems such as the I(8-s @pecial .rawing $ightsF the rise of virtual and crypto3currencies such as 2itcoin 'with systems of limitation of supply to million to ensure soundness0 or Litecoin or .ogecoin also suggests ways that money and currency may be reshaped and reformed. 6ohn ABiB 'KaBiBonomics0 even suggests the idea of a coin that is mined by, for example, performing wor& for @D%IKhome. %here are also localised currencies such as the %ransition %own movement-s pounds that are specifically limited to certain communities and enterprises. 5hether or not there is a new global monetary system and what it will be based on, and whether money supplies are centralised or decentralised and localised, are some of the great intellectual debates of the era, and cut right to the heart of the :uestion of the relationship between the physical and the virtual and between governed and government. Clearly the concept of money is also at the heart of the interrelated :uestion of copyright, copyleft and intellectual property versus unrenumerated interconnected collaboration, the &ind of interactions identified in a wor& such as Clay @hir&ey, =Cognitive @urplus; Creativity and ,enerosity in a Connected Age> ' ?1?0. In retrospect, a great deal of the financial and economic problems of our era everything from the problems associated with derivatives to the boom and bust to the stoc& mar&et crash of 1!#" or panic of ??# will be understand as being part of the reshaping of our institutions and expectations to this new era in which we live, particularly given the rise of blac& box or algo3trading. 9ne hundred years after this is written, perhaps it will seem almost inevitable that subse:uent changes in the global financial and monetary architecture were going to happen. I can assure future readers that right at the moment nothing very much at all seems inevitable. 5hat I can observe is that the potential conse:uences in terms of global economic exchanges given the fact that anyone with a web connection can sit at a bus stop and discover information on and trade everything from gold to palladium to e:uities to bonds is startling given that once upon a time 'and particularly before deregulation such as the 1!#1 2ig 2ang0 financial centres such as the City of London were relatively closed domains 3as closed, perhaps, as the ancient Dgyptian priesthood with its hieroglyphs and hierophants. Instead of a potential death of money see for instance 6ames $ic&ards, =%he .eath of (oney; %he Coming Collapse of the International (onetary @ystem> ' ?170 or a -,reat Inravelling- of the money system described by Charles Disenstein, =@acred Dconomics; (oney, ,ift, and @ociety in the Age of %ransition> ' ?11, p.1/10 we may instead be in the process of a radical reshaping of money and currencyF after the 7 year period from 1!"1, it is now entirely open what sort of monetary system we have ahead of us. 5e may have a fissiparous mixture of fiduciary money on the one hand and alternative currencies that interact in complex ways with the

creation of algebra or the number Bero or rather similar to a situation where the game of chess existed without a &night 'the only piece that can move in a curve rather than a straight line0 and then, suddenly, somebody appeared with the new piece. 5hether in& on paper 17 is as historically finished as the scroll14 or the illuminated manuscript11 or the boo& of hours, and whether reading is now a matter of screen and ereader, is not a prediction that I wish to ma&e +ust as I would not wish to ma&e predictive statements about what happens to something li&e copyright and the entire concept of intellectual property in this different world 1", about what happens to a craft or s&ill such as handwriting1#, what happens to the relationship between shared collaboration and mercantile exchange1!, or about what happens to the :uestion of whether a text is an entity that is final, fixed

.ouglas $ush&off idea of -social currency- on the other. 9ne of the primary functions of all our different forms of currency will be to accurately translate the values that are created in the relationship between what is real and what is digital, particularly given the potential for scarcity of commodities and resources in the former category and abundance of resources in the latter category. %his process has recently been seen for instance in the inflation of values of fine art, such as the Eovember ?1/ sale of a 1!1! 8rancis 2acon triptych of Lucian 8reud which eclipsed the sale of Ddvard (unch-s =%he @cream> in ?1 to become the highest figure in dollar terms ever achieved at auction. 1?? years after my birth, in ?"#, I imagine that monetary transactions across the world will be done in a mar&edly different way from the way that they were in 1!"# or in ?1/. *eople may operate in a wide number of currencies simultaneously for different purposes. I do not even begin to speculate on what the exchange rate would be between Darth and a moon colony. 17 %he long3standing literary debate over the death of the novel, in retrospect, seems to be a mere part of the far larger :uestion of the death of the printed boo& itself. Inless we focus on wor&s such as the =@atyricon> of ,aius *etronius, it is arguable that the novel at least as we recognise it today is a relatively late product of the ,utenberg era. Ian 5att, =$ise of the Eovel; @tudies in .efoe, $ichardson and 8ielding> '1!4"0, for instance, isolates it to the early seventeenth century the same broad time period as the inception of the Industrial $evolution and the beginning of the geological era &nown as the Anthropocene 'as described by Dugene 8. @troemer and *aul CrutBen in ???0. If the novel is not necessarily dead, but instead giving birth to descendents which are evolving and transmutating, we may have ahead of us fascinating new literary forms which reshape human consciousness, and what it means to be a human sub+ect or a human individual, in the way that the novel itself changed our consciousness. %he novel may be unsurpassed in its ability to solve at an artistic level what C.@.$amachandran described as the =need to reconcile the first person and third person accounts of the universe> which he conceived as being the =single most important problem in science> 3 cited in .avid Lodge, =Consciousness and the Eovel> ' ?1 0. 6ust as it gave us an idea of what it meant to be an individual sub+ect in the era from the eighteenth to the twenty first centuries, as discussed for example by Eancy Armstrong, =)ow the Eovel %hin&s; %he Limits of Individualism 1"1!31!??> ' ??10, so new future forms of literature may tell us what it means to be an individual sub+ect in different historical circumstances and milieu. *erhaps one day the grandchildren and great3grandchildren of the novel will teach us more about that divergence and reconciliation between the first and third person accounts of the universe in ways we can barely even imagine at this stage of history. $ather than being dead, perhaps the novel is entering a rather en+oyable retirement and :uietly pottering off to the golf course and Iniversity of the %hird Age seminars. %he novel is not the only literary form that may transmutate. It too& from the age of printing to 1"/1, with Ddward Cave-s publication of The Gentleman's Magazine for the first general interest magaBine to be produced. Another example is that of (ontaigne-s virtual invention of the form of the personal essay, a form described by Eorman (ailer as -Advertisements for (yself-. (ontaigne was born in 14//, +ust under one hundred years into the ,utenberg period. In the non3fictional sphere, Ann 2lair, =%oo (uch to Lnow; (anaging @cholarly Information 2efore the (odern Age> ' ?1?0 points out that the age of printing led to a trend towards reference boo&s such as the -florilegium-, a boo& gathering memorable :uotations 'or -flowers-0 from different sources. Ley reference boo&s of the period include wor&s such as the -%heatrum humanae vitae- '-%heatre of human life-0 of 1414 or the -(agnum %heatrum- '-,reat %heatre-0 of 11/1. %oday there are interesting experiments such as Amaranth 2orsu& and 2rad 2ouse, =2etween *age and @creen> which operate both at the level of paper and the level of the digital. (eanwhile there are fictional depictions of possible futures such as .ave Dggers, =%he Circle> ' ?170 where paper is a thing of the past. It may not be, but machines such as the 28@3Auto at the Ishi&awa 9&u Laboratory in 6apan are able to digitise paper boo&s at the rate of over 4? pages per minute, showing once again how rapidly developments have moved in this particular sphere. 14 Apart from rare examples such as the wor& of 6ac& Lerouac, of course. An interesting example is the pro+ect by Los Angeles artist and boo&binder Charlene (atthews to turn 6oyce-s =Ilysses> into seven foot by two inch wooden ship dowels that loo& rather li&e scrolls. 11 %he central idea of 5alter 2en+amin, =%he 5or& of Art in the Age of (echanical $eproduction> '1!/10 3 that

and complete or, alternatively, one that is fluid, open, polysemic and constantly refinable ?. %he technology of the printed boo& still exists and is still popular 1 the two forms may prove to be mutually exclusive, or successfully interdependent . 5e may see some sort of dialectical synthesis of the pre3,utenberg and ,utenberg eras where the monastic scribe is reborn in the digital age, a literary person existing in an electronic scriptorium or an electronic cottage beyond the scope of the printing age for whom literature in its broadest sense is a vocation rather than merely a +ob, profession or form of commercial exchange or mercantilism /. @uch developments are open and ongoing. %ime will tell. 5hat is beyond doubt is that the scope and horiBons of the idea in the =%ao %e Ching> that without opening one-s door one can see the whole world have been expanded to a degree that would probably astound even Lao %Bu were he to be catapulted through a
an artwor& loses its aura when copied is one that reaches entirely new levels in the post3,utenberg age when bits lead to fundamentally different scope for copying than the era of atoms. It may be case, however, that in parallel with the hyper3abundance of the digital there is a vogue for a return to the &ind of scribal craft that was implicit in the illuminated manuscript. @uch artefacts may be abolished by the digital age or, alternatively, prove to be of a particular cachet and &udos the authenticity and uni:ueness of the original with its original aura being valued as a result of its relative scarcity. @ee, for instance, )ans ,umbrecht and (ichael (arrinan, =(apping 2en+amin; %he 5or& of Art in the .igital Age> ' ??/0. An interesting example here was the $adiohead C)@ pro+ect, curated for charity, by the musician 6ames $utledge +ust at the point in time where digital copying was reshaping the music industry as a whole. 1" Law, as with everything else, is of course being reshaped. In terms of copyright, what are the long3term ramifications of, say, the AM( $ecords v Eapster case in ??1 or the (,( @tudios v. ,ro&ster case that led to the closure of ,ro&ster in ??4 on the one hand, and its decision in terms of copyright in the field of peer3to3peer file sharing, with the 'at the time of writing0 recent decision in the Authors ,uild v. ,oogle case in ?1/, where it was +udged that the extraordinary digitisation of writing by ,oogle was in the public and cultural interest< As of April ?1/, ,oogle have digitised 'at least part of0 /? million boo&s, and have plans to digitise 'at least part of0 what they deem to be the total number of boo&s ever published, i.e. approximately 1/? million boo&s. %his has been a particularly issue in terms of -orphan boo&s-, i.e. boo&s that are out of print but where the copyright has not lapsed, as discussed by *amela @amuelson in The Lost Angeles Times, (ay 1st ?1 . Although some voices have at times suggested that the music industry as one example might be destroyed in the post3,utenberg era, there have been several examples whereby it has instead adapted and changed. 9ne example has been the ever greater importance of live performance given the ubi:uity of access to records. Andy *atriBio in Cite5orld in .ecember ?1/ pointed out that a band such as Iron (aiden have actually chosen to target areas where their music has been freely downloaded at 2it%orrent and then deliberately chosen to go to those areas and play live there. As Adrian 6ohns, =*iracy; %he Intellectual *roperty 5ars from ,utenberg to ,ates> ' ?1?0 points out, intellectual property and the concept of the ownership of a text were facets of the printing revolution and long pre3date controversies over sites such as (egaupload or the *irate 2ay. It remains to be seen what pathways lie ahead in this sphere. %here are several divergent options and pathways that could be ta&en. 1# I recently had the experience of feeling very much in my middle age when I was discussing my time at university in the mid to late 1!!?s with somebody who is at university now. @he as&ed me, almost incredulously, whether it was really the case that at that time we wrote essays in handwriting rather than on computers. %his is one example of the presumably multiplicitous conversations going on amongst the generations featuring :uestions li&e you really do x or y in the past<> 9n the other hand, certain forms from the past such as the letter, which may to some extent be eclipsed by the email, can be memorialised 'for example at the archive http;, which may help us to write not only better letters, when we get round to doing so, but also better emails as well as better episolatory and email3pistolatory novels0. An interesting view on the importance of the art of the cursive is that of *hillip )ensher, =%he (issing In&; )ow )andwriting (ade Is 5ho 5e Are> ' ?1/0. 9n the other hand, there was the news in 6uly ?11 that the state of Indiana in the I@A was not re:uiring its children to learn cursive writing but was instead prioritising typing. %his raises the wider :uestion; as we live through this great transition, what should we retain from the past, what should we not retain, and are laments and elegies for practices of the past that diminish or disappear such as @ven 2ir&erts, =%he ,utenberg Dlegies> '1!!70 3 a necessary act of remembrance or, instead, essentially a waste of time and energy that should go into navigating the new frontiers of our lives, both in terms of our position in the outer world and in terms of our inner consciousness< 1! %he potential of peer3to3peer production and the &ind of collaboration implicit in the development of open source operating systems such as ,EIGLinux is explored in, for example, Christian @ief&es, =8rom Dxchange to Contributions; ,eneraliBing *eer *roduction into the *hysical 5orld>. It is interesting to note that the Linux operating system is used by something li&e !?N of the world-s top 4?? supercomputers, as pointed out by Abdul

time travel device 'presumably free of the grandfather paradox of $ene 2ar+avel0 to the twenty first century. Instead of ma&ing predictions, therefore, I observe the shift that has happened so far and observe that the time period involved so far is a short one in historical terms. (y generation has lived through these transitions and shiftsF the increasingly hyper3connected generation of digital natives, consumnivores and future screenagers 7 that I teach, currently younger than a decade old, have &nown nothing else. 8or them, whether they are conscious of it, their world is one of implicit hyper3abundance of information and communication in a way that was simply not the same in the past. @tories of what those older rooms were li&e will be stories from a past which is as foreign as a

(onta:im, =2iography of Linus %orvalds> ' ?1 0. .eclarations such as the 2udapest 9pen Access Initiative in ?? are dedicated to openness in access to &nowledge and ideas. A vast archive of freely downloadable software which is rated by community reviews is curated by http; In .on %apscott and Anthony 5illiams, =5i&inomics> a number of examples of collaboration, crowdsourcing and open source developments are discussed, particularly in light of what is often referred to as web .? or the living web, the active web, the hypernet, or the readGwrite web for instance software such as Apache, (y@HL, or 8irefox and pro+ects such as the 5orld Community ,rid, the InnoCentive networ& and Current %C, as well as phenomena such as the release of research on agricultural and food productivity by the Australian biotech institute CA(2IA under 2I9@ '2iological 9pen @ource Licenses0, 8urther examples are discussed in .on %apscott and Anthony 5illiams, =(acrowi&inomics> ' ?1/0 including environmentally conscious communities such as Carbonrally, Darth lab, 2etter *laces and ,reenOchange as well as a mass astronomy wi&i such as ,alaxy Aoo. %he idea of a collaborative -smart mob-, again maximising collective intelligence through collaboration across space and time, is discussed in )oward $heingold, =@mart (obs; %he Eext @ocial $evolution>. Another example is the vast number of volunteers that transcribed the complete wor&s of Leo %olstoy at http; A similar process is at wor& in the 22C 5orld @ervice-s plan to get listeners to tag and edit details of the /1,??? programmes in their archive. 2ehind all these examples is the principle of the -wisdom of crowds- as described by 6ames @urowiec&i. %he possibilities of the readGwrite web compared to the past tradition of -read only- in a medium such as television are still perhaps in their infancy; Clay @hir&y points out that the creation of 5i&ipedia up to ??! so far represents an investment of approximately 1?? million hours compared to the ?? billion hours spent every year on watching television. %hat is not to say, however, that 6ohn Logie 2aird-s medium has remained static in the post3,utenberg age, and instead television has itself been transforming particularly in terms of viewer interaction and the convergence between different devices, for instance in the case of the smart %C. Increasingly the barriers between different media may be coming down. As noted in )enry 6en&ins, =Convergence Culture; 5here 9ld and Eew (edia Collide> ' ??#, p.70 the 2ollywood film =$o& @a&o %o $o& Lo> was the first feature film that was fully accessible via mobile phones. %his raises the long3term prospect of an Internet of %hings, whereby the internet is connected to the physical world via ubi:uitous sensors 3 a term created by Levin Ashton in 1!!!. If it is the case that printing led in part to a greater interiority and individualism of reading, rather than a collectivity, which helped to lead to capitalism itself for example in the analysis of (ax 5eber, =%he *rotestant Dthic and the @pirit of Capitalism- '1!?40 then it remains to be seen whether the post3,utenberg era involves a reinvention of capitalism or, alternatively, forms of collaboration that are fundamentally non3capitalistic or post3capitalistic. A micro example of reinvention is the shift in the past decade to subscription for services rather than payment for products, a theme discussed by %ien %Buo, CD9 of Auora. 9n the :uestion of capitalism and post3capitalism, this raises the further :uestion of whether the Cold 5ar really was a battle between the different ideologies of socialism and capitalism and whether or not it can be said that the latter triumphed, particularly in light of the 8rancis 8u&uyama thesis of liberal democracy representing a teleological -end of history-. Alternative models such as Larl *olanyi-s -gift economy- or ,uy de 2ord-s potlatch economics are clearly important in understanding a great deal of the behaviour that characterises online interactions. It remains to be seen whether or not reading and writing will become less individualistic over time. 8or 2ill @tein of the Institute for the 8uture of the 2oo&, they emphatically will and usher in an age of -social reading-. ? An interesting article on this :uestion is =2oo&s %hat Are Eever .one 2eing 5ritten> by Eicholas Carr in the 5all @treet 6ournal, 1st .ecember ?11. )ere Carr cites DliBabeth Disenstein-s concept of =typographical fixity> as being one of the ma+or conse:uences of printing that wor&s could be fixed and finalised in a way that is mar&edly different from oral cultures where story3telling was a process of collective accretion and augmentation. %his naturally involved errors, for example in the -wic&ed 2ible- of 11/1 where the printers forgot to use the word -notand so printed =%hou shalt commit adultery.> Carr points out that in the post3,utenberg era =there-s no technological constraint on perpetual editing, and the cost of altering digital text is basically Bero> and discusses the degree to which the -edges- of boo&s, as described by 6ohn Ipdi&e, are being transformed, and their horiBons

foreign country 4. In the absence of networ&s upon networ&s that share information and ideas 1, the room I remember contained only two hundred texts. %heir room contains trillions, if not googleplexes. In the room I remember, an eight year old version of me would have been almost certain not to have been able to find out anything whether fictional or non3fictional about, say, polynomials, *olynesian islands, polyglots, or the history of the wor& of 6ohannes ,utenberg. 8or the children of the new generation, they could put any of those words into ,oogle 2oo&s, ,oogle @cholar, 9pen Library ", @cribd, 9pen Culture, the )athi %rust #, 5i&isource, 5i&ipedia, Ibu5eb or the 8ifth Dstate of the blogosphere ! to name +ust a handful and not stop reading for months, years, lifetimes 'or, the case of a site li&e Librivox /?, listening for lifetimes0. 9ne only has to glance
expanded. An example is the publication by Eature of an etext in ?11, =Introduction to 2iology>, that is composed of 1!1 modules rather than a se:uential boo& and involves the reader being involved in a lifetime subscription, benefiting from changes and amendments to the text. )ugh (c,uire and 2rian 9-Leary, =2oo&; A 8uturist-s (anifesto; Dssays from the 2leeding Ddge of *ublishing> ' ?1 0 provides a panoply of ideas on what the meaning of the boo& is in the post3,utenberg period and how that differs from the boo& of the ,utenberg period, such as the incorporation of an A*I or application programming interface with texts. An interesting example is the 6ames 8rey =Dndgame> novels which are being developed into an augmented reality pac&age in collaboration with ,oogle-s Eiantic Labs. (arcus du @autoy discussed the potential for changes with the incorporation of apps and other features in http;GGwww.theguardian.comGboo&sG ?1?G+ulG?/Gmarcus3du3sautoy3apps3boo&s According to K.igi2oo&5orld on /rd .ecember ?1/, in ?1 only two libraries reached 1 million eboo& borrows in ?1 , whereas this had risen to six libraries in ?1/. In April ?1/ the Association of American *ublishers announced that eboo&s made up /N of I@ publisher sales in ?1 a rise from /N in ??!. 9ne day that figure might be 1??N. Alternatively, it might not. 9n a personal and anecdotal basis, I can report that I finally and rather sluggishly succumbed to the charms of an ereader in .ecember ?1 , not being at all sure that I would want to read on a small screen rather than reading printed boo&s. After about six months of reading nothing else, I was lent five or six printed boo&s by a friend and immediately the experience felt strange and alien rather than being the default. )aving two pages open at once felt strange, as did turning the paper itself. I have read a few printed boo&s again recently and have reached no complete conclusion of the :uestion of whether the ereader has now replaced the boo& for me on a personal basis so if I can-t decide personally, I am not in a position to manufacture prognostications on what might happen more generally in the world. %he personal ratio is probably now at least !4N to 4N in favour of the ereader, however, which probably tells its own tale albeit a small story among billions, of course. 9n a parallel matter, the :uestion of whether an analogue medium such as celluloid will survive or be replaced by the digital in the field of cinema is explored in the film =@ide by @ide> ' ?1 0. An interesting example in the literary field is that of Cory .octorow, who offers his science fiction novels for free 'and allows them to be sold at a profit by people in the developing world0. Eic& 2ilton in =I Live in the 8uture and )ere-s )ow It 5or&s> ' ?1?, p. 0 describes his own process of going through a -digital metamorphosis-, particularly in terms of a shift from printed newspapers to digital print. %he generation I teach fascinate me because they have, effectively, be born already metamorphosised. (arc *rens&y has discussed the potential gulf in communication between digital natives and -digital immigrants- 'i.e. those of an earlier generation than the digital natives0 in the field of education. .avid $onfeldt,>%ribes, Institutions, (ar&ets, Eetwor&s> '1!!10 argued that the networ& was the next phase of evolution of societal forms, beyond tribes, hierarchies and mar&ets. %his is at the root of the social media revolution whose origins are in $eid )offman-s 1!!" @ocialEet. %here is a useful list of digital library pro+ects at http;GGen.wi&ipedia.orgGwi&iGListPofPdigitalPlibraryPpro+ects 6ennifer Aaino in Ed Tech magaBine, #th 9ctober ?1/, points out that the )athi %rust had by ?1/ digitised a total of almost 11 million volumes, a rise from its inception level of million at its formal debut in 9ctober ??#. @ee, for instance, @tephen . Cooper, =5atching the 5atchdog; 2loggers as the 8ifth Dstate> ' ??10F 5illiam .utton, =%hrough the Eetwor& of Eetwor&s; the fifth estate> ' ??"0 or ,reg 6ericho, =%he $ise of the 8ifth Dstate> ' ?1 0. 2y reading I mean listening to text as well as reading it. I do not subscribe to the (cLuhan idea that the digitial revolution means that we move to an oral rather than written stageF so far at least, the oral and the written appear to both be flourishing in parallel in the infosphere. 9n the other hand, there is the interesting concept of the -digitoral era-, which is a neologism created out of -digital- and -oral- by 6onah @achs whereby the ideas expressed online, particularly in social media 'not +ust 8aceboo& or %witter, but also literary3specific sites such as ,oodreads or 2iblionasium0, are ad+usted and transformed and shifted in a collaborative fashion that is seen as being a hallmar& of oral cultures rather than written ones see, for example, =5inning the @tory 5ars; 5hy %hose 5ho

/ 7 4 1 " # ! /?

briefly at the Iniversity of Cambridge list of free eboo& collections to feel vertiginous &nowing that there are millions and millions of texts condensed into that single hypertextual list on that single page. As well as listening to 'and of course tal&ing over0 their teachers, they can attend lectures /1 at sites such as the Lhan Academy, iversity, Idacity, Coursera, Academic Darth, 5i&iversity, %D., (I%-s 9penCourse5are, or the Codeacademy or 9penCC / and +oin (99Cs from across space and time without formally enrolling in any university //. %hey can read open access academic +ournals/7 at the clic& of a button or touch of a tablet. %hey can engage in the )abermasian public sphere with silicon chips acting as the caffeine that stimulated the eighteenth century rise of newspapers and periodicals/4. %heir room is not the same as my generation-s was. %he boundaries and limitations of it are simply different :ualitatively, :uantitatively. It is the
%ell and Live the 2est @tories 5ill $ule the 8uture> ' ?1 0. In this sense, the digitoral could be seen as a dialectical synthesis of the written and the oral in a way that blends part of the culture prior to ,utenberg with the culture that developed after ,utenberg. A further nuance exists in the analysis of 5alter 9ng, for instance in =9rality and Literacy; %he %echnologiBing of the 5ord> '1!# 0 who made a distinction between -primary orality- in cultures with little written language and -secondary orality- which is a technologised form of orality delivered by electronic media. %he world of )omer, for instance, in which myths were intertwined upon each other and constantly being amended and added to, was a fundamentally oral culture, and one therefore of primary orality. Again, anecdotally I am struc& by the change in my own lifetime within what is an infinitesimally small period of time in terms of, say, the total length of time that human beings have existed, or life on Darth, or indeed the universe as a whole which may 'or may not be0 somewhere in the order of 17 billion years old for example .avid 5eintraub, =)ow 9ld is the Iniverse<> ' ?110, p.144. In that sense, my experiences during my time at 9xford Iniversity 'between 1!!1 and 1!!!0 are a mere blin& of an eye in temporal terms from the moment that I am writing this, in ?1/. )owever, again, in that period of time there has been a complete transformation in the way that &nowledge and ideas are disseminated in a way that ma&es me feel that I am existing in a fundamentally different world from the one that I remember. 5hen I was studying at 9xford, I had to leave my college and go into the centre of the city and sit in a lecture hall and listen to a particular individual tal&ing directly. %oday, however, I spend my time going on wal&s attending lectures that are provided to me as podcasts that I can download to a mobile mp/ player from http; %he fields of @urrey or the streets of London are, therefore, temporary 9xford lecture halls, so long as I choose them to be. 9f course there is still a difference between the real and the virtual; there are advantages to being in a physical room with other people 'or inforgs0 at a particular moment in spacetime, but once again what is staggering and marvellous is the lowering of barriers to entry and the ability to gain &nowledge and ideas wherever one happens to be. 6ust as printing brought in new patterns of behaviour that became what reading and writing themselves were, so this era is seeing all sorts of changes, though predicting them exactly is a complex tas&. According to .ouglas $ush&off, =*rogram or be *rogrammed; %en Commands for a .igital Age> ' ?110, learning to programme computers is in itself a fundamental aspect of what constitutes contemporary literacy. )ere, products such as the single3board $aspberry *i are important since they help to disseminate the means to programme at a cheap price and on a widespread basis . According to a report in =%he In:uirer> on /rd .ecember ?1/, the $aspberry *i had +ust reached a total of ./ million units sold. Another interesting pro+ect in this respect is 9ne Laptop per Child. )ere Charles )ugh @mith-s concept of the -nearly free university- is relevant, particularly in the context of rising tuition fees at established universities. %he post3,utenberg era raises the :uestion of how universities reinvent themselves and adapt. Counter3intuitively, although it might at first appear that the university could be a threatened institution as a result of the explosion of easily available material 'an obvious :uestion being 3 =why bother paying to study somewhere when you can simply study at home<>0 perhaps it will turn out that universities are examples of institutions that are strengthened and made more relevant, particularly in terms of providing guides and mentors on how to navigate and negotiate the explosion of information. %his is particularly the case given the conclusion of a pro+ect such as the @tanford @tudy of 5riting curated by Andrea Lunsford between ??1 and ??1, which came to the conclusion from a wide analysis of student writing that we are in the midst of a literacy revolution that has not been seen since ,ree& civilisation. ,iven the wide variety of different forms of writing, universities if anything play a more important role than ever in refining literacy, possibly into hyper3literacy. As numerous researchers have discovered, building on the wor& of a pioneer such as 6ean *iaget, learning is not simply a matter of information transmission and so teaching at all levels of scholarship is as necessary and vital as it ever has been. )igher education social networ&ing sites such as http; 'founded by $ichard *rice0 have fostered extraordinary interconnections between worldwide academics and have helped to disseminate their research and ideas. As of ?17, there were nearly ",???,??? academics networ&ed at the site. %here is a useful list of open access +ournals at http;GGen.wi&ipedia.orgGwi&iGListPofPopen3accessP+ournals 9f course, it might be as&ing rather a lot for an eight year old to engage in a )abermasian public sphere or



/7 /4

difference between an asteroid and a galaxy full of everything from asteroids to white dwarves to oort clouds to Coyager 9ne golden records. And if that room is located in a -smart city- /1, that room is part of an entire urban area that has also been transformed into something fundamentally different in &ind from the urban centres that were the products of the industrial era/". %he general bac&ground of this post3,utenbergian shift, in terms of our particular stage of human history, is one that has deep complexities and in this context I ma&e no predictions whatsoever but I will instead be nothing more than a fascinated observer. 5hile we are experiencing this exponential explosion of information in all directions, this inescapable hyper3 abundance, we also face challenges in terms of the scarcity or indeed hyper3scarcity of physical resources/#, either occurring right at the moment or on the horiBon 'chiefly of in terms of a global )ubbert-s pea& of oil/!, though by no means limited to it, and increasingly in terms of other essential

/1 /"

/# /!

attend university lectures.. 6ohn Eaughton, =8rom ,utenberg to Auc&erberg; 5hat Jou $eally Eeed to Lnow About the Internet> ' ?1 0 points out that in the ,utenberg revolution the very concept of childhood was redefined. )e cites Eeil *ostman, =Amusing 9urselves to .eath> '1!#10, in arguing that the transition into adulthood was pushed bac& and was made reliant on a certain -reading competence-. In some ways, our post3,utenberg era may see childhood shortened and in other ways lengthened. %he possibilities for acceleration of students who are at the furthest reaches of bell curves in certain fields, to use a term associated with $ichard 6 )ernstein and Charles (urray, and to ta&e advantage of the &ind of -learning webs- discussed by Ivan Illich, are now truly extraordinary. @pecific networ&s such as 2iblionasium provide opportunities for them to practise and learn how to contribute to and communicate with the public spheres of debate and discussion. @ee, for instance, %im Campbell, =2eyond @mart Cities; )ow Cities Eetwor&, Learn and Innovate> ' ?1 0. Irbanisation was a mar&ed feature of the ,utenberg era, particularly in its industrial segment with the primacy of primary and secondary industry in the economy, to use the terms associated with the wor& of Colin Clar&. In the post3,utenberg era, it will be fascinating to see how towns, cities, metropolises and conurbations evolve further. 9ne highly interesting development will be the extent to which food is grown in cities rather than being transported from rural and agricultural areas. In this context, for instance, it will be interesting to chart the growth of green roofs, vertical gardening 'the (ur Cegetal, invented by *atric& 2lanc0, a:uaculture, hydroponics and community gardens. %his is discussed in, for example, Lathryn Colasanti, =,rowing 8ood in the City> ' ??!0. )ere the $ichard )einberg concept of -pea& everything- is particularly important. Chris (artenson, at his *ea& *rosperity blog, pointed out on 14th 6anuary ?1/ that in the past years, half of the oil ever burned has been burned another example of exponentials in action. A revolution in sustainable energy is one of the great needs of the age, particularly if we are to sustain the incredible pace of information generation that is ever accelerating. As ,oogle chief executive Dric @chmidt said to the %echonomy @ummit in ?1?, =every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation up until ??/.> In ?1? the digital cosmos passed the Bettabyte threshold. *owering all of this expression and communication must be ever more effective energy generation. Currently, it remains to be seen what new techni:ues and ideas will crystallise and germinate into successful methods of energy generation in the future. .espite widespread fears over the safety of nuclear energy and the problem of nuclear waste 'particularly in relation to the :uestion of having to deal with it for about 1??,??? years, which is roughly half of the entire time that humanity has so far existed0 part of the reason why ,ermany has turned its bac& on it0 there is of course the :uestion of nuclear fusionF as report by *aul $incon on 22C Eews on "th 9ctober ?1/ observed that a milestone had been reached n this context at the Eational Ignition 8acility 'EI80 at Livermore in California. A number of other pro+ects promise significant benefits, beyond the rising stoc&s of solar, wind , geothermal and tidal energy. An example is the artificial leaf which is capable of powerful photosynthesis created by .r..aniel Eocera at (I%. A number of different pro+ects, which may or may not come to fruition, are described at http;GGwww.alternative3energy3 news.infoGtechnologyGfuture3energy

resources7? such as water71, fish, helium7 , indium, copper, coal, topsoil, rare earths7/ or uranium0. As a result of the mathematics of exponential growth, world human population has roc&eted in the course of a very short time period in historical terms 'particularly since 1#410 in a way that is profoundly and fundamentally different from the apparent steady state that was the hallmar& of the ma+ority of the two hundred thousand year period of homo sapiens. At the time of writing we have reached seven billion and are moving relentlessly towards ten billion and beyond. %he challenges and e:uations related to human population needs and physical resources are complex and problematic. %his is particularly the case in the context of a world where something in the order of one billion people are currently undernourished77, let alone have access to the computer tools and e:uipment to become an instrumental and active part of the post3,utenbergian transition. At the time of writing, according to estimates by sources such as the International %elecommunications Inion, there may be something in the order of two and a half billion users of the internet worldwide, a digital divide which is clearly not a situation of maximised potential 74. %his is where the importance of an organisation such as 5orldreader, which disseminates eboo&s via cell phones and &indles, is paramount. Although world illiteracy may have approximately halved in the period between 1!"? and ??4, according to the 5orld Literacy 8oundation more than "!1 million people in the world cannot read or write71. Eot attaining the first levels of literacy precludes graduation to the state of hyper3
7? 71 =@cientific American> magaBine had a useful presentation, =)ow (uch is Left<> in the @eptember ?1? issue. %he Inited Eations pro+ects that by ?/? half the world-s population will live in areas of serious -water stress-. 9n the other side of the e:uation, anybody in the world in an electronic cottage or electronic scriptorium can type =water desalination> into ,oogle @cholar and, within minutes, immerse themselves in detail on everything from microbial desalination cells to carbon nanotube membranes for desalination to the use of mesoporous carbon electrodes for desalination. %he same principle is obviously the case in a problem such as ocean acidication and the decline of coral reefs or the problem of rapid and pervasive desertification. 5hile it is deeply sobering to read documents about the prevalence of the latter problem for instance the ?1/ analysis by the Inited Eations .esertification Convention 'IECC.0 that 11# countries are now affected by severe land degradation 'and approximately 7?N of Africa0 3 it is heartening to listen to or read information about the wor& of somebody li&e Allan @avory or Charlie *aton with the concept of -seawater greenhouses-, about the @enegalese ,reat ,reen 5all or the @ahara 8orest pro+ect, or about the regeneration of the Lubi:i .esert by the Dlion $esources ,roup. It is e:ually heartening to explore the wor& of, say, the Coral $eef $egeneration 'C$ 0 *ro+ect or the steel cage regeneration pro+ect pioneered by 5olf )ilbertB. @ee, here, the wor& of Eobel priBe winner $obert $ichardson. Eot the novel by *aul (ason, which by all accounts is in reasonable supply. $are earth metals are particularly important in terms of sustainability since they are used in everything from solar panels 'tellurium0 to high3 performance batteries 'lithium0 to fuel cells that turn hydrogen to energy 'platinum0 to wind turbines and electric engines 'neodymium0. *roblems with supply and a paucity of recycling are discussed by Eicola 6ones in =QA @carcity of $are (etals is )indering ,reen %echnologiesQ.> ' ?1/0. *roblems in supplying food to some parts of the world population are put into focus when one considers the waste in others, particularly given the analysis of somebody such as %ristram @tuart, =5aste; Incovering the ,reat 8ood @candal> ' ??!0. According to KIED* on /rd .ecember ?1/, in developed parts of the world /??m tonnes of perfectly decent food is discarded. It may ta&e time for hyper3literacy and digital literacy to develop, the same way that it too& time for literacy to develop in the ,utenberg era. As an example, in most of Durope it is estimated that only between ?3/?N of the population were literate in the early 1"th century, still a considerable period of time after the ,utenberg shift 'the first printed 2ibles emerged from the (ainB press in 17440 while "?3!?N were by the end of the eighteenth century, according to $oger Chartier in 8in&elstein and (cCleery eds, =%he 2oo& )istory $eader> ' ??1, p.1 40. If one adopts the schema of the current era as being the 8ourth $evolution, the second involving writing was one that also too& time to develop. According to .enise @chmandt32esserat, =)ow 5riting Came About> '1!!10, the cuneiform script invented in the Eear Dast in the late fourth millennium 2C, which is the world-s oldest &nown system of writing, originated as a counting device. It too& time for humanity to discover that writing itself had much more applicability than +ust accounting. Literacy is a central aspect of the cultural part of the concept of the -long revolution- in $aymond 5illiams, =%he Long $evolution> '1!110. According to the Inited Eations, women 'the ma+ority of whom live in 5est Africa0 ma&e up approximately two thirds of the illiterate in the world as a whole. Literacy is, therefore, very much a feminist issue. In 6anet 2illson and Carolyn 8luehr3Lobban, =8emale 5ell32eng; %owards a ,lobal %heory of

7 7/




literacy that is the potential of the hyper3abundance of texts 7". *erhaps the most alarming fear enmeshed at a deep level in the bac&ground of our early twenty first century lives is that, as a result of environmental and ecological pressures, we may be destined for a mar&ed contraction of population in the long3term and a different &ind of human existence that is much more limited in terms of its consumption of resources7#. %he relationship between human population and the populations of flora and fauna is not necessarily an inverse correlation but our fears over the problems we face as a result of human needs are compounded by the fact that, according to some sources, we may be on the brin& or in the throes of a sixth mass extinction of species 'whereby "4N of species become extinct07!. ,iven the central insight of 6ared .iamond in =Collapse> into the relationship between the collapse 'or, implicitly, the longevity and success0 of a civilisation and its
@ocial Change> ' ??4, p.110 it is observed that birth rates also tend to decline with female education. %im Carmody summed it up succinctly at the 9-$eilly %ools of Change '%9C0 conference in Eew Jor& in ?1 by pointing out that =we-re reading everywhere, not +ust in boo&s or magaBines or newspapers, or on e3readers and tablets or even smartphones, but wal&ing down city streets, searching for movies on Eetflix, and our television screens. 5e-re living in an age not +ust of hypertext but hyperliteracy.> 7# *erhaps fears on the matter would be eased, and more rational and enlightened perspectives made possible, by human population being less of a taboo sub+ect, as observed by Alexandra *aul in a %D.x tal& at http;GGyoutube.comGwatch<vRfExctByExC9. 5hen a sub+ect is taboo, it is difficult to spea& about it in a fashion that does not bring out overly emotive responses often with a cavalcade of irrelevant ad hominen attac&s and entrenched dogmatic positions that result in the rather unedifying spectacle of the -flame war-. %he more open the discourse, the easier it is to sift out the reality and find real solutions to problems. %here has perhaps been a recent rise in the extent of the discourse with wor&s such as @tephen Dmmott, =%en 2illion> ' ?1/0 and .anny .orling, =*opulation %en 2illion.> ' ?1/0. %he long3term paucity of discussion of population growth despite the best efforts of everybody from %homas (althus to *aul Dhrlich to 6ulian @imon to .avid Attenborough impacts the :uality of related discourse such as the debate over migration, particularly given the contrast between a developing world with conditions of generally lower material wealth and opportunity than the developed world but, at the same time, far higher birth rates. ,iven that in ?1/ there are something li&e 11 million people living outside their countries, this is an important global issue. A further complicating factor in terms of our analysis of the relationship between human needs and resources is the potential improvements in medicine and therefore life expectancy that are possible in the age of information hyper3abundance. Dric %opol in =%he Creative .estruction of (edicine; )ow the .igital $evolution 5ill Create 2etter )ealth Care> ' ?1 0 discusses the potential shifts, particularly as a result of the se:uencing of the six billion bases , of the human genome and the concomitant discovery of the underpinnings of over one hundred common diseases but also through such developments as the use of wireless sensors and the use of collaborative medical sites such as *atientsLi&e(e. %opol refers to this period as the ,reat Inflection of (edicine. 7! It is the sixth because in the *haneroBoic, the period from the beginning of the Cambrian 47/ million years ago, there have been five other mass extinctions. 9n the other hand, and despite the dangers of exponential species loss, again what are the ramifications of the ability to aggregate information on an unprecedented and exponential basis in human history in terms of species and ecosystem stewardship and conservation< )ow might it affect our ability to collate, say, the ICIE $ed List of Dndangered @pecies or the IICE $ed List of Dcosystems and to use and distribute that information to ma&e sure that as few species as possible become extinct< 9r to map the genome of other species given the progress of the )uman ,enome *ro+ect from its inception in 1!!? 'for example in pro+ects such as the ChimpanBee ,enome *ro+ect0< 9r to create practical pro+ects such as the Dden *ro+ect or the @valbard ,lobal @eed Cault< 9r, in the case of climate change, to geo3engineer solutions 'such as the in+ection of reflective particles into the stratosphere or the deployment of a giant sunshield in space to reflect solar energy0, as espoused by somebody such as Eobel priBe winner *aul CrutBen 'or (ar& Lynas, who argues that it is a possible way to ma&e the Anthropocene resemble the )olocene rather more than the Docene, which was roughly 443/4 million years ago and was a great deal hotter than today0< 9r in the case of agriculture and food for a population moving towards ten billion, what is the potential for a new &ind of ,reen $evolution, particularly given the potential of nano3technology , experimentation with algae farms or the development of -green super rice- by Ahi&ang Li and team< *erhaps at some stage this century a certain proportion of our food might be in pill form. In this sphere, we are blessed with rich resources of information such as the 2iological )eritage Library or the Dncyclopedia of Life, which attempts to document all of the 1.! million species that are currently &nown to human&ind. %he latter is another example of the power of the wisdom of crowds and collaboration given the important role of the community of people who use the site who also update it with information. It also hints at the &ind of changes to science and classification that could accrue from the post3,utenberg age in the same way that the ,utenberg age opened up the possibility of the @cientific $evolution, as DliBabeth Disenstein argued. 6oachim 7"

stewardship of its ecological resources, we need to marshall and co3ordinate our full collective intelligence to confront these challenges and ensure that we endure and prevail into what the Annales school of historians described as the -longue duree- or the expansive time period that is at the heart of the wor& of the Long Eow 8oundation. %hat includes, by definition, disseminating the ability to read and write as far and wide as possible and a level of reading that is deep and that allows for the discernment of what is central and crucial over what is marginal, peripheral, superficial or ephemeral. 9n the other hand, despite all these enormous challenges, and assuming that our beautiful planet retains its goldiloc&s ability to support life4? 'and also assuming that there is not some of disaster that aborts the internet revolution in some way 410, what are the real long3term ramifications of the implicit potential of hyper3literacy that lies within our transformed rooms and minds the potential of cross3fertilised texts, of spaghetti +unctions of ideas, of ever accelerating exchanges of words< 5ill our stewardship of the planet evolve better and more enlightened strategies and tactics< ,iven the accumulated potential intelligence of ten billion or more human beings, could our latent dreams of interplanetary civilisation be proved to be real over the course of decades, centuries, millennia4 < *erhaps, in the long term, it might turn out that the encyclopaedias of .enis .iderot and 6ean le $ond d-Alembert or 6immy 5ales are opening chapters or early s&etches for a
5haley in =,utenberg $evisited>, New Society Col.7#, Eo.#1! pointed out that medieval botanists &new approximately 1?? varieties of plant, which was essentially not more than the ancient world. 2y 11 / some 1,??? varieties had been catalogued. %here are perhaps millions of species that we have not yet identified, which represent another frontier in terms of our future &nowledge, and the potential is for a supplanting of the classifications of the ,utenberg era with new taxonomies in the same way that the ,utenberg era supplanted the Aristotelian taxonomic systems that preceded it. 5hat is the next frontier of classification; do we have a new Linnaean era ahead of us< 4? 9r, of course, if one adopts the ,aia perspective of 6ames Loveloc& 'and, in terms of nomenclature, 5illiam ,olding0 then the planet is alive itself, rather than merely supporting life, and our individual lives are facets of the same phenomenon. %his is not, of course, to be confused with the -billion star mapping- ,aia satellite launched on 1!th .ecember ?1/. 41 A cataclysm that might theoretically, for instance, lead to a reversion to a world made by hand as envisioned in the wor& of 6ames )oward Lunstler. 5ithout something li&e 5i&ihow to help us to remember how to ma&e things by hand, a collection of freshly decomputerised digerati or technorati might struggle to ma&e a world by hand. 4 Again, a simple anecdote; about six months ago I had not heard of terraforming of other bodies in the universe or of space elevatorsF now I can type them into ,oogle @cholar and teach myself all about them in depth this concept and others raise the issue of the degree to which a planetary carrying capacity can be said to be a fixed entity or, alternatively, whether it can be modified as a result of practical action. A wider :uestion is how the @pace Age will be reshaped over the course of coming centuries what will be the relationship between governmental agencies such as EA@A and private enterprise such as (ars 9ne, 9rbital @ciences, Cirgin ,alactic, 2lue 9rigin or @paceO< Are we entering or in the midst of a great age of space exploration to rival the era of Columbus, (agellan, Casco de ,ama and so on 'and was that age itself a product of ,utenbergianism0, or did our space travel find a final physical frontier with the Apollo # voyage to the moon in 1!1!, the same year that the A$*AED% was born, the forerunner of the internet, and one year after .oug Dngelbart-s seminal -mother of all demos-< %he :uestion of moon exploration 'particularly given its stoc& of rare earths, helium3/, and titanium0 is perhaps reignited at the time of writing with the news that the Chang-e / spacecraft, carrying the Jutu rover, is the first craft to land on the moon since 1!"1. 5hether we are destined to stay put on planet Darth and not venture beyond the International @pace @tation and expand our consciousness and &nowledge of the universe from the point of view of observation only 'even further perhaps than Coyager 1, which launched in 1!"", before my birth, and which became the first manmade ob+ect to depart our solar system in @eptember ?1/0, or destined to explore further and further on a physical basis is not clear at this stage, and is one of the most interesting aspects of life today for somebody who, at an individual level, is perfectly happy to stay put on Darth but is more than happy to hear travellers- tales of those whose urge to +ourney extends beyond our troposphere. If travellers- tales were a crucial part of the birth of the novel itself say in .aniel .efoe, =$obinson Crusoe> '1"1!0 then, once again, we can merely speculate and imagine and dream at this stage of proceedings how the literary form of the post3novel would evolve in a situation where space travel and space colonies became part of the everyday bac&ground of our lives. @cience fiction may have s&etched out a great deal of the territory already, but who &nows what shifts and developments could occur in another great age of exploration.

future, and real life, Dnyclopaedia ,alactica. It may prove to be the case that the term -Intergalactic Computer Eetwor&-, used by 6.C.$.Lic&lider at A$*A in 1!1 , is a premonition. Again, I ma&e no predictions on that macrocosmic picture, but instead will be a fascinated observer of what occurs in my lifetime and on what tra+ectories our collective and individual processes develop during the course of my brief period of existence in this particular moment in the Anthropocene on this beautiful four billion year old planet. )yper literacy is a corollary of hyper3abundance. %wenty five years ago, when I was the same age as the children I now attempt to teach, had I been as&ed to do a school pro+ect on, say, the @panish Armada I would have gone to my local library a building limited in space and time and as&ed for the three or four boo&s that they might have had on the sub+ect. %hose three or four boo&s might have been borrowed by somebody else at the time. I might have had to cobble a pro+ect out of an encyclopaedia entry 'and an encyclopaedia entry that would be in one language Dnglish rather than an enyclopaedia that is formulated on the basis of a panoply of languages, li&e 5i&ipedia4/0, and one without hypertextual trails encoded into it li&e diamonds. %oday, I would have access to more documents and interpretations on them that I could spend twenty five years getting my head around. %wenty five years ago, my local library had about ten boo&s on chess, a game that I love dearly. %he local boo&shop had another twenty or so, while a trip to a specialist chess shop in the nearby metropolis of London was a rarity. %oday, I can explore the matches of grandmasters past and present and explore exegesis on them at Jou%ube or Chessbase or $ed )ot *awn in minute detail to name +ust a few sites. And if I choose to connect with grandmasters at, say, 8aceboo&, then I can get direct flows of information from them at my Eews 8eed. %he change
4/ Again, anecdotally I am minded to thin& of the change that has occurred from my own school days. At my secondary school I particularly en+oyed studying languages 8rench, ,erman, Latin and ancient ,ree& and in the case of the first two we were fortunate to be supplied at my school with a lovely language lab where we listened to recordings of people spea&ing those languages and made our own recordings. %hose recordings were done on cassette tapes a technology tthat was analogue rather than digital 'and so involved the loss of :uality when copies were made0 hat I remember from my youth and adolescence which I no longer see around me or use. %oday, in the era of %ranslaticum (ondialis, any room with an internet connection can be turned into a language laboratory and the increased opportunities to learn foreign languages are extraordinary. Increased language learning has an effect in increasing empathy for others 'raising a challenge to the fears of someone such as @usan ,reenfield that the internet may be leading to a lowering of empathy0 and, I hope at least, in removing the potential for conflict between nationalities. %here is even now an Dmpathy Library in existence, although not yet perhaps the &ind of Dmpathy 2oxes described by *hilip L..ic&. It remains to be seen in the long3term whether the nation state, which (arshall (cLuhan saw as a product of the ,utenbergian printing revolution, will not survive the post3 ,utenbergian revolution, or whether it will redefine itself in other forms. Carl 2uilder raised this :uestion in =Is it a %ransition or a $evolution<>, Futures, 1!!/. An example might be the news that, say, the Eational Library of Eorway is digitising all the boo&s in its collection and ma&ing them public to people with a Eorwegian I* address raising the obvious :uestion of why only a Eorwegian I* address< %his obviously raises the further :uestion of whether transnational entities such as the Duropean Inion or the Inited Eations could be seen as products of the digital era or information revolution 3+ust as it raises the :uestion of whether a shift such as the rise of the @pace Age is itself a product of the 8ourth $evolution +ust as, perhaps, the Industrial Age was the production of the third revolution.. ,iven the news in .ecember ?1/ that 6upiter-s moon Duropa was seen spouting giant plumes of water, which may strengthen the case that it contains a li:uid ocean below its icy crust, perhaps we had better start wor&ing out how a Duropa Inion would wor&. *erhaps a colony on the moon or elsewhere would change the dynamics of politics itself on this planet we might one day, for instance, re:uire advanced diplomacy and ambassadorial s&ills between different colonies. A further consideration is the extent to which languages themselves are going to expand in terms of an efflorescence of neologisms and the extent to which a standard vocabluary can be fixed. 5hat is the relationship, for example, between a linguistic authority such as the 9xford Dnglish .ictionary or the Academie 8rancaise and newer and more chaotic lexicons such as Irban .ictionary< And, further, should we use something li&e Dsperanto as a lingua franca or embrace the fragmentation and abundance of a twenty first century babel< 9ccasionally, in my own experiences as a teacher scanning a vast multiplicity of freeform spelling, I have wondered if the era of print was one of relatively fixed spelling 'or, indeed, syntax or grammar0 that was destined to be succeeded by an era of rather more fragmentary spelling as the number and scope of words expand perhaps faster than the expanding universe of )ubble-s Law. 9n the other hand, perhaps profusion of writing demands ever greater standards to be applied if true communication is to be achieved.

is as exponential as units of wheat on chess s:uares47. @o in the years, decades, centuries and millennia ahead, what are the ramifications of the hyper3literacy that lies implicit in our Dxponential Dpoch< ,iven the implications of @apir35horf-s hypothesis about the role and nature of narrative and story3telling in human civilisation and culture, and given the close relationship etymologically between narrative and sailing, what &ind of Anthropocene have we navigated44 our way into and what further paradigm shifts lie ahead of us 41< 5hat &ind of stories will we tell to each other and to our descendents about the nature of the change in writing and reading and how this affects every aspect of our :uotidian lives whether economically, politically, culturally, or socially< )ow can collective optimism and progress prevail over fear and the fear of fear itself4"< 5hat is the real meaning of the possibility of the creation of a
47 As @issa the brahmin &new, after doublings on only the 17 s:uares of the chess board, there are a total of 1#.7 :uintillion units of wheat. If somebody could find a way to grow 1#.7 :uintillion of units of wheat on a chessboard the problem of feeding the expanding population of the planet would be solved at a stro&e. %he idea of an exponential epoch cannot be discussed without reference to the wor& of Albert 2artlett, for whom the failure to understand the exponential function was the greatest shortcoming of the human race. *erhaps our next stage of evolution involves us understanding it ever more and more. 6eremie Averous sees the 8ourth $evolution as being fundamentally exponential in its very nature, in contrast to the Industrial $evolution which is seen as linearF he mentions wheat on chess s:uares at http;GGthefourthrevolution.orgGwordpressGarchivesG 7#! 44 In the case of cyberspace, Andrew .illon and (isha Caughan argue that the metaphor of navigation is not an apposite one, since, unli&e physical navigation where the destination is the goal, in the cyberworld the +ourney is the destination. 41 9ne ma+or :uestion of the Dxponential Dpoch is the :uestion of the relationship between man and machine, raising the :uestion of posthumanism or transhumanism and the degree to which the Anthropocene itself might be succeeded by another era, beyond the scope of homo sapiens. %his is particularly &ey in the field of artificial intelligence and in pro+ects such as .r $a+esh $ao-s robot being taught directly by brain signals at the Eeural @ystems Laboratory at the Iniversity of 5ashington. )ere there are profound moral as well as pragmatic :uestions about the extent to which there is a boundary beyond which we should not cross. )ere $ay LurBweil-s concept of a @ingularity is particularly important. In the sphere of chess, ,arry Lasparov-s games against .eep 2lue was an experiment in the wider :uestion of the extent of the boundaries and limitations of man and machine, a series of games that were as fascinating as the challenge between the I2( 5atson machine and 6eopardyS game show winners in ?11.. 4" Eaturally it is important to point out problems if one is interested in wor&ing out solutions. 9n the other hand it is important not to succumb to the process of fearing change that contains within it ris&s but, at the same time, fundamental progressions. 8or example, the Eobel priBe winner )erbert @imon stated in =.esigning 9rganiBations for an Information3$ich 5orld> '1!"10 that =A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.> %his is a theme ta&en up in a more recent wor& such as Eicholas Carr, =%he @hallows; 5hat the Internet is doing to our brains> ' ?1?0 where Carr suggests that in hypertextual reading we =don-t see the trees...we see the twigs and the leaves>. It is not the case, however, that hyper3abundance of information necessarily means a plague or pandemic of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A netiBen is not necessarily )omo .istractus. 5e might see the twigs and leaves sometimesF at other times we might see the whole of the AmaBon rainforest or maybe using 2idirectional $eflectance .istribution 8unction 3 forests on distant exoplanets. It might, however, mean that an age of hyper3abundance re:uires guides, gurus, gate&eepers, editors and mentors of deep concentration and focus more than ever, particularly in the field of education. I personally not sure to what extent I can multitas& effectively by, say, listening to an audioboo& at the same time as reading an eboo& 'while, of course, having a browser filled to the brim with a smorgasbord of tabs0, but am experimenting on an ongoing basis as a way of navigating the profusion although some studies suggest that multitas&ing actually reduces the :uality of each activity, for example 9phir, Eass and 5agner, =Cognitive Control in media multitas&ers>, Proceedings o the National Academy o Sciences ' ??!0. In particular, it may be the case that one of the manifestations of fear in our age is that as a result of the sheer profusion of documents many people are tempted to see& forms of simplistic religious fundamentalism as a perceived protection to the -threat- of a multiplicity of texts which isn-t a threat at all, of course, but instead an extraordinary opportunity. Another fear is that we are -outsourcing- our memories to search engines. It may prove to be the opposite in the sphere of oratory, for instance, the internet may prove to be a more remar&able memory palace than anything that Cicero could have envisaged. %here is an echo, here, of the fear propounded by @ocrates in the =*haedrus> by *lato that writing itself would wea&en memory something of a paradox, since we remember *lato precisely because we can read what he wrote. Another fear is a potentially schiBoid breach between real life and cyber3life, related to the concept of -hyperreality- associated with Imberto Dco or 6ean 2audrillard, and discussed in Andrew Leen, =.igital Certigo; )ow %oday-s 9nline @ocial $evolution is

personal library of Alexandria or an Andre (alraux3ian -musee imaginaire- in almost every home and every public institution4#< 5here will the next developments be in the process of the wisdom of crowds4!< 5here next, in our imaginations, on our information super highways, in our lives on our planet, and in the world beyond our planet, do we as human individuals and as a species have to travel and travail< If there are no maps for these new territories, should we get busy drawing them up as soon as we possibly can 1?< And in particular, given (arshall (cLuhan-s idea of the importance and primacy of traditional literary values being updated and adapted for our different era, what &inds of texts shall we write both in terms of their form and content< )L.
.ividing, .iminishing and .isordering Is> ' ?1 0.. )ere again, however, it is perhaps a :uestion of time as with writing or printing, it too& decades, centuries, even millennia for people to wor& out the most intelligent ways to use profound new technologies. 9verall, therefore, fears can be important mechanisms by which we face problems but they can also be a &ind of addiction to the negative or the pessimistic which blinds us to the beauty and elegance of the world and our creations within it, particularly in phases of history characterised by the &ind of creative destruction described by 5erner @ombart and 6oseph @chumpeter 'a micro example of which is the way that a service such as @&ype has challenged the traditional model of payment for telephone calls0. Andrew *iper in =2oo& 5as %here> ' ?1 0, p.xi, points out that while many people have expressed all &inds of fears about the nature of reading and writing in the age of the screen, mourning the loss of the magnificent patrimony of the printing era, there have been recurrent fears throughout the printing era relating to boo&s themselves that one day there would be more authors than readers '1"##0, that self3publishing would &ill reading '1""/0, that nobody would have the time to read boo&s anymore '1#440. In that sense, !lus ca change, !lus c'est la meme chose. 9ne day, in a galaxy far far away, perhaps a descendent of ours will write that the products of our post3,utenberg era are being lost in some new wave of change. And perhaps someone else, li&e me, will write in a footnote that somebody else was already worried about something li&e that already happening some time long ago. .espite the warnings of people such as (ar& 2auerlein in the ??7 study =$eading at $is&>, it may prove to be the case that reading expands in many directions and dimensions in ways that we one day ta&e for granted, +ust as we ta&e much for granted that is the product of the relatively brief period of history since ,utenberg. Dverything from a printing press to an ipad is a tool tools can be used to hammer nails into +elly and then try to put it on to walls, or they can be used to hammer nails into walls to put up the most magnificent masterpieces that human beings ever painted. Dverything depends on the use of the tool rather than necessarily the nature of the tool itself. (oreover, every new technology or cultural paradigm shift ta&es time to master and necessarily involves mista&es along the way. %here is, I would suggest, nothing to fear in a &ind of twenty first century Lesewut or reading mania and everything to be gained. ,iven the irrepressible +ouissance of the text, to use a term associated with $oland 2arthes, or given ,illes .eleuBe-s idea of -reading with love-, why not +ust en+oy the rollercoaster ride< As I might have coded in the late 1!#?s on my 22C (icro; 1? *$IE% =$ead and writeS> G ? ,9%9 1?. 4# If every home can be potentially turned into a library, then the further :uestion of what public libraries are for, and how they adapt and evolve as public spaces, is raised. 9ne approach, by the Iniversity of @trathclyde in @cotland, has been to limit the physical space that their university library occupies since they assume that students will increasingly access library resources virtually. %his may prove in the long run to be rather similar to the general :uestion of how other institutions such as universities adapt. %antalising, we also face the possibility of a &ind of Iniversal Library or total library dispersed through a number of different ones a vision and idea elucidated in wor&s such as Lurd LasswitB-s 1!?1 =%he Iniversal Library> or 2orges-s essay =%he %otal Library> and explored in, for instance, Christian Candendorpe, =8rom *apyrus to )ypertext; %oward the Iniversal .igital Library> ' ??!0. 4! %his principle is embedded in, for example, ,oogle-s *age$an& technology which prioritises search results on the basis of the number of sites that lin& to the particular sites being searched. 1? As Alfred LorBybs&i pointed out, the map isn-t the territory. Jet from the 2abylonian clay tablets from 4?? 2C which are the earliest extant maps to the era of ,oogle (aps, mapping is an essential part of civilisation. An interesting form of mapping is the 9pte *ro+ect created by 2arrett Lyon which attempts to use visual graphics to help us understand the extent and tree3li&e architecture of the internet itself. %oday, the instantaneous nature of communication across space and time helps us to provide feedbac& on texts in a way that is similar to the ,utenbergian period. As an example, DliBabeth Disenstein, =%he *rinting *ress as an Agent of Change> '1!"!, p.1110 cites the example of 9rtelius-s atlas pro+ect, the =%heatrum orbis terrarum>, first published in 14"? and, essentially, peer reviewed 'and fre:uently re3edited on the basis of the feedbac& received0 in a way that was not possible in the pre3,utenbergian era of scribes. 5here next, one wonders, for our maps of the outer universe and our maps, or infographics, of our inner worlds and inner consciousnesses. Almost innumerable %homas Luhnian

shifts perhaps lie ahead at the mutliple frontiers of our &nowledge and understanding of our universe and our ever evolving place within it.