Too much to know : managing scholarly information before the modern age / Ann M. Blair.

By: Blair, Ann, 1961-Material type: TextTextPublisher: New Haven [Conn.] : Yale University Press, c2010Description: xv, 397 p. : ill. ; 25 cmISBN: 9780300165395 (pbk.); 0300165390Subject(s): Reference books, Latin -- Europe -- History -- 16th century | Reference books, Latin -- Europe -- History -- 17th century | Reference books -- History | Communication in learning and scholarship -- Europe -- History -- 16th century | Communication in learning and scholarship -- Europe -- History -- 17th century | Note-taking -- History | Bibliography -- Europe -- History -- 16th century | Bibliography -- Europe -- History -- 17th century | Europe -- Intellectual life -- 16th century | Europe -- Intellectual life -- 17th centuryDDC classification: 039.71094 LOC classification: Z1035.8.L38 | B58 2010
Contents:
Information management in comparative perspective -- Note-taking as information management -- Reference genres and their finding devices -- Compilers, their motivations and methods -- The impact of early printed reference books.
Summary: The flood of information brought to us by advancing technology is often accompanied by a distressing sense of 'information overload', yet this experience is not unique to modern times. In fact, says Ann Blair in this intriguing book, the invention of the printing press and the ensuing abundance of books provoked sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European scholars to register complaints very similar to our own. The author examines methods of information management in ancient and medieval Europe as well as the Islamic world and China, then focuses particular attention on the organization, composition, and reception of Latin reference books in print in early modern Europe. She explores in detail the sophisticated and sometimes idiosyncratic techniques that scholars and readers developed in an era of new technology and exploding information.
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Z1035.8.L38 B58 2010 (Browse shelf) Available 0000002163889

Includes bibliographical references (p. 321-379) and index.

Information management in comparative perspective -- Note-taking as information management -- Reference genres and their finding devices -- Compilers, their motivations and methods -- The impact of early printed reference books.

The flood of information brought to us by advancing technology is often accompanied by a distressing sense of 'information overload', yet this experience is not unique to modern times. In fact, says Ann Blair in this intriguing book, the invention of the printing press and the ensuing abundance of books provoked sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European scholars to register complaints very similar to our own. The author examines methods of information management in ancient and medieval Europe as well as the Islamic world and China, then focuses particular attention on the organization, composition, and reception of Latin reference books in print in early modern Europe. She explores in detail the sophisticated and sometimes idiosyncratic techniques that scholars and readers developed in an era of new technology and exploding information.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

To be useful, information has to be more than simply available; it must be organized so that it is accessible. This has been a problem since the invention of writing. But it has become an obsessive preoccupation since the invention of printing and the concurrent recovery of Greek and Latin texts during the early-modern centuries (1400-1700), the focus of this landmark study by Blair (Harvard). Even before the age of printing (after 1450), organizing knowledge took many forms: alphabetizing, color coding, note taking, extraction of excerpts. Printing led to a proliferation of tools for information management: dictionaries, reference books, compendia of various kinds. The Internet makes recovery of knowledge possible in an exponentially advanced way. But Blair reminds readers that though information is one thing, making sense of it requires attentiveness, judgment, and contextual understanding--all of which her book reflects. It could profitably be required reading for all first-year college students, a group that, prepared by the Internet, might be more receptive to its message than any preceding generation of students. This is a scholar's work in the best sense: it communicates well to its intended readership. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. A. Rabil Jr. emeritus, SUNY College at Old Westbury

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Ann M. Blair is Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, Harvard University. She lives in Cambridge, MA.

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