I Love The Internet
December 29, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

I love the internet.

Opium to DeQuincy

Sin to Milton

Congo to Conrad

Aran to Synge

.

I love the internet

.

Castles to Shakespeare

Deceit to LeCarre

Dublin to Joyce

Marketplace to Chaucer

.

Did we say

‘Daffodils to Wordsworth?’

We couldn’t forget that.

Or mounted jihad to Tennyson

Or the weird wild wonder

of the whole god damn show

to Dylan

.

I love the internet

.

Wild, lewd, bawdy, bullying, smelling of cats.

Cranks, crank, meth, conspiracy, snipers, knoll.

Fascists made cartoon on ripe digital soil.

Erudite waltzing with trite.

In eternal ballroom

Dedicated skiers on seas of trivial loon.

Self help soma screaming thinnin tv hair repair.

And always the smiles of the filippino brides

And promises of untold nigerian riches.

Flashing wheel spinning ace poker squared

You Have Been Chosen

But

Shhhhhhh

Somewhere down there in the fly fishing section

the first faint whispers

(If ears are right)

of hushed talk

of

bold revolution.

.

I love the internet

The sheer

dull

scintillating

infantile

anarchy

of

it

all.

.

Boisterous Brughel medieval market.

Futuristic Middle Ages

Directed

by

Friar Tuck.

And offset, whispers

of

Robin

lurking

in

wood.

I love the internet.

Cos it’s ours.

.

Kev Bar – 29/12/2012

The History of Writing
October 14, 2012

Writing emerged around 5000 years ago, in what we now call the Middle East, in a fertile agricultural area with rich virgin riverside topsoils.   Plenty of food so  time to do things other than hunt or dig, and food stores to count to calculate that there was enough grain to see the population through to the next harvest.    There was also plenty of clay and reeds that could be used as writing tablets and pens.  Written number systems first  and later, writing originated in Sumer, now part of Iraq.   The earliest writing, and the first use of symbolic written numbers, was used for recording the number of animals and the quantity of grain stores.

The cities of Sumer were the first civilization to practice intensive, year-round agriculture, by perhaps c. 5000 BC,  showing the use of core agricultural techniques, including large-scale intensive cultivation of land, mono-cropping, organized irrigation, and the use of a specialized labour force.   The surplus of storable food created by this economy allowed the population to settle in one place, instead of migrating after crops and grazing land.   It also allowed for a much greater population density, and in turn required an extensive labour force and division of labour.    Sumer was also the site of early development of writing, progressing from a stage of proto-writing in the mid 4th millennium BC to writing proper in the third millennium (see Jemdet Nasr period).

Middle Bablyonian legal text in its envelope

The earliest known writer of literature was a woman, an Akkadian princess from Sumer, called Enheduanna.

Enheduanna was a magnificently powerful and expressive writer.  She was a high priestess of the moon goddess – not coincidental perhaps, as the phases of the moon have traditionally been used a guide to optimal planting times.  The Ban Sí could have learnt a thing or two from her.

 With your strength, my lady, teeth can crush flint. You charge forward like a charging storm. You roar with the roaring storm, you continually thunder with Iškur. You spread exhaustion with the stormwinds, while your own feet remain tireless. With the lamenting balaĝ drum a lament is struck up.  My lady, the great Anuna gods fly from you to the ruin mounds like scudding bats. They dare not stand before your terrible gaze.

The concept of writing spread outwards from Sumer, and inspired new forms of writing, one of the earliest of which was in Egypt. There were also, thousands of years later, completely separate inventions of writing – in Mexico first and later in China.   Both Mexico and China, like Sumer, had complex agricultural systems in fertile, irrigated lands.

Writing is important to, and can accelerate social development generally.  Writing systems create a lasting record of information expressed in a language, which can be retrieved independently of the initial act of formulation and via which ideas can be shared across space and time.  Writing is a code, and can be in the form of pictograms and ideograms – symbols representing concepts or objects  or in alphabet form – a group of letters representing the sound of the spoken word.  Our western alphabet can be traced back through Greek and Phoenician to Egyptian writing.

Chinese characters are pictographs

Excerpt from the Book of Kells, circa 800 AD

Writing has spread knowledge and culture through large populations and led to an increasingly rapid emergence of new knowledge, standing on the shoulders of what was known before.

The benefits of writing were limited when each copy had to be hand written.   Many important works have been lost from that period.  The printing press, first used in the 15th century “cracked open” the potential of writing for societal development involving the wider population. not just a handful of scholars and priests.   Written works became far more accessible and less likely to be lost.

16th century press capable of printing 3,600 pages a day

The internet (developed in the 1950s-80s had an exponential effect on the sharing and spread of knowledge, as a much cheaper and more readily available global means of access to writing.   There are thousands of free books and articles (damn you, pay walls!).  A recent survey in Ireland showed that  a lot of people think broadband access to the internet is more important to them than electricity.

Lee Kleinbeck and the first Interface Message Processor 

Each of these technologies has come about on the back of the general level of technological and scientific development in society.

One would think that writing might be challenged by recorded sound – I have just listened to a talk by Conor McCabe, on youtube, that once would have been more likely shared by means of a pamphlet, or that would not have been heard beyond the initial live audience.  But writing is in many ways superior – a moment’s lapse of concentration when listening to a recording means the tedium of playback and listening again, maybe more than once. Reading a written version, one can go at one’s own pace, use a bookmark, make notes on the page.

Perhaps the next step will be some form of direct plug-in of information into the brain. 🙂   Scientists have been working on different ways of doing this  for some time.

C. Flower 14/10/2012

First published on our sister-blog, ‘itsapoliticalworld’ in February 2012.

Reference: An interesting wiki page on the history of writing, drawn on for this article

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_writing (enter into searchbox to access this page)

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