I would leaf through all the found books and get a vague, yet physical sense of how much there was to know about the subject matter. Now I Google "Guarino Guarini", and in 0. My Google search is both very detailed yet not at all physical. I can't tell how much I like this person's personality or work. I can't decide if I want to flip through more entries. I am in a car traveling from New York to Philadelphia.
I have GPS but no maps. The GPS announces where to go and takes into account traffic and tolls. In that other trip I had a map, I entered the city from a bridge, the foreground was industrial and decrepit the background was vertical and contemporary I zoom out the GPS to see if the GPS map reveals an alternative entry route, a different way the city geography can be approached.
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Nothing in the GPS map looks like the space I remember. What happened? Is my memory of the place faulty or is the focus of the GPS too narrow? If decisions take into account the many ways in which information comes to us then the internet at this point privileges what we can see and read over many other aspects of knowledge and sensation.
How much something weights, how does it feels, how stable it is. Are we, the ones that knew places before the internet, more able to navigate them now or less? Do we make better or worse decisions based on the content we take in? Do we have longer better rests in far away places or constant place-less-ness? How have image, space, place and content been altered to give us a sense of here and now? I believe that the history of time has been impacted by several enormous inventions.
First was the watch which unified man's concept of measurement of time. It is interesting to note that China was the last country to join the rest of the world in embracing the clock.
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It was chairman Mao who brought in this drastic change, among others. The invention of photography created several concrete displacements of our perception of the past. The world was quick to accept the photograph as a forcible document containing absolute evidence. This concept endured until sometime in the s when the photograph was no longer accepted in courts of law.
From my point of view the next great watershed that influenced our perception of time has been the arrival of the Internet. I know that it certainly speeds things up etc. I believe that there is a metaphysical element that surely the mystics could define. But for me the most blatant phenomena is that my life has to an extent compressed to the extent that I am not only aging in the conventional sense but also not aging, due to the fact that rather than losing information with the passing of "time" I am in fact accruing more and more information.
I remain indifferent to the entire event of place as it is experienced by young arrivals to the planet who find the most concrete forms of reality floating upon the surface of their computer display. The idea of an Internet without some form of computer device is, for the time being, out of reach. Thus the Internet and the computer are married in some ethereal place, as yet undefined. As an amateur musician I find the Internet linked in time with the nature of music itself.
I can hear it now. The Internet first appeared long after I had received my Ph. I had been trained in physical library search techniques: look up the subject in Science Abstracts a journal itself now made defunct by the Internet , then go to the archived full article in the physical journal shelved nearby. I no longer have to go to the library; I can access the SCI and the online journals via the Internet. These Internet versions of journals and Abstracts have one disadvantage at present: my university can afford only a limited window for the search.
I can use the SCI only back ten years, and most e-journals have not yet converted their older volumes to online format, or if they have, my university can often not afford to pay for access to these older print journals. So the Internet causes scientific knowledge to become obsolete faster than was the case with the older print media. A scientist trained in the print media tradition is aware that there is knowledge stored in the print journals, but I wonder if the new generation of scientists, who grow up with the Internet, are aware of this.
Also, print journals were forever. They may have merely gathered dust for decades, but they could still be read by any later generation. I can no longer read my own articles stored on the floppy discs of the 's. Computer technology has changed too much. Will information stored on the Internet become unreadable to later generations because of data storage changes, and the knowledge lost? At the moment the data is accessible. More importantly, the raw experimental data is becoming available to theorists like myself via the Internet.
It is well known from the history of science that experimentalists quite often do not appreciate the full significance of their own observations. Now that the Internet allows the experimenter to post her data, we theorists can individually analyze it. Let me give an example from my own work. Standard quantum mechanics asserts that an interference pattern of electrons passing through a double slit must have a certain distribution as the number of electrons approaches infinity.
However, this same standard quantum mechanics does not give an exact description of the rate at which the final distribution will be approached. Many-Worlds quantum mechanics, in contrast, gives us a precise formula for this rate of approach, since according to Many-Worlds quantum mechanics, physical reality is not probabilistic at all, but more deterministic than the universe of classical mechanics.
According to Many-Worlds quantum mechanics, the wave function measures the density of Worlds in the Multiverse rather than a probability. Experimenters — indeed, undergraduate students in physics — have observed the approach to the final distribution, but they have never tried to compare their observations with any rate of approach formula, since according to standard quantum mechanics there is no rate of approach formula. Using the Internet, I was able to find raw data on electron interference that I used to test the Many-Worlds formula. Most theorists can tell a similar story. But I sometimes wonder if later generations of theorists will be able to tell a similar story.
Discoveries can be made by analyzing raw data posted online today, but will this always be true? The great physicist Richard Feynman often claimed: "there will be no more great physicists. Feynman argued in Surely You're Joking Mr.
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Feynman that all of his own achievements were due, not to his higher-than-other-physicists I. Everyone would think the same way. The Internet is currently the great leveler: it allows everyone to have access to exactly the same information.
Will this ultimately destroy diversity of thought? Or will the tendency of people to form isolated groups on the Internet preserve that all important diversity of thought, so that although scientists all have equal access in principle, there are still those who look at the raw data in a different way from the consensus? The Internet dispenses information the way a ketchup bottle dispenses ketchup. At first there was too little; now there is too much. Use of the Internet has not changed the way that I think, but it is making a unique contribution by providing me with immediate and convenient access to an extraordinary range of ideas and information.
This development can be considered as a natural extension to the sequence that began with tablets of clay, continued through papyrus, parchment, handwritten manuscripts on paper to the recent mass produced books printed on paper. Happily the Internet provides us with access to many of these earlier forms of the written word as well as to electronic communications. Access to information and ideas has always been important for both personal development and progress of a community or nation. As a school boy, when I first became interested in facts and ideas my family were living in an industrial part of the north of England and at that time I made great use of a public library.
The library was part of an industrial village established by a philanthropic entrepreneur who made his money by importing Alpacas' cashmere-like fleece and weaving fine clothes. Alpacas are members of the camelid family found in the Andes of Peru and Chile.
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He provided not only houses, a hospital, but schools and a technical college, and the library. I took it for granted that libraries which provided access to books, most of which could be borrowed and taken home, were available everywhere. This is still not the case, but in the near future the Internet may provide an equivalent opportunity for people everywhere. Whereas libraries have been established in most major societies, it is only in the recent past that they have been made generally available to ordinary citizens.
One of the earliest libraries for which records remain is the Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt which was founded around BC by pharaoh Ptolemy I. It grew to hold several hundred thousand scrolls, some of which are said to have been taken from boats that happened to dock at Alexandria while carrying out their trade. The library contributed to the establishment of Alexandria as a major seat of learning.
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Sadly the library was destroyed by fire. Never the less it represented a particular landmark in the development of the concept of a library as a collection of books to provide a reservoir of knowledge, that should be staffed by specific keepers whose tasks included expansion of the collection. Other similar libraries were established during this period, including those at Ephesus in Turkey and Sankore in Timbuktu. During the period of the Roman Empire wealthy and influential people continued the practice of establishing libraries, most of which were open only to scholars with the appropriate qualifications.
A survey in AD identified 29 libraries in Rome, but as the Empire declined the habit of establishing and maintaining libraries was lost. The development of monasteries provided a renewed stimulus for learning. They amassed book collections and introduced the habit of exchanging volumes. Recognizing the importance of learning the Benedictine rules required that monks spent specified periods of time reading. As Europe emerged from the Dark Ages wealthy families again began to collect books and then donate their libraries to seats of learning in places such as Florence, Paris, Vatican City and Oxford.
All of these libraries depended upon the copying of text by hand and it was only the development of printing by Gutenberg in the s that production of books was transformed they were much more readily available. During the period to there was an extraordinary expansion of libraries, by universities and nations. Some of these were named after major benefactors, such as the Bodlean Library in Oxford and the library donated by the Massachusetts clergyman John Harvard, after whom the university is named. In the United States the Library of Congress was founded in and after a fire during the War of Independence its stock was replenished by the purchase of the collection that had been amassed by Thomas Jefferson.
The Library of Congress now claims to be the largest library in the world with more than million items. It was also during this period that public libraries became more common and books became more generally available for the first time. In some cases subscriptions were used to purchase books, but there was no charge for subsequent loans. One such was the Library Company of Philadelphia established by a group that included Benjamin Franklin in The oldest surviving free reference library in the United Kingdom, Chetham's, was established in Manchester in It was at this time that the UK parliament passed an Act to promote the formation of Public Libraries.