The Structure of Information Revolutions

In 1962, philosopher Thomas Kuhn published his landmark work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, forever changing our view of the history of science. Kuhn showed that scientific revolutions follow a certain pattern, in which periods of conceptual continuity in normal science were interrupted by periods of revolutionary science.

In this article I’ll argue that the same thing applies to information revolutions – periods in which the volume of information that humans needed to manage grew dramatically in a short period. These information revolutions were similar to scientific revolutions, introducing whole new ways of thinking that were not possible before.

In order to survive and continue advancing through each of these periods, two things had to be invented:

  • A new paradigm for our relationship to information
  • A new kind of tool that manifested this new paradigm

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