The History of the Alphabet

Before jumping into Information Theory proper I decided to go back and explore the history of the Alphabet. This reminds us that communication, no matter how fluid it seems, is really just a series of selections. I’m using both Shannon and Harold Innis as inspiration for this series which is why I’m clarifying medium vs. message as well as information transmission over space vs. time – ideas which are popularized by Marshall McLuhan years later. By starting this way I’m able to carefully move away from the semantic issues of information and towards what Shannon called the “engineering problem”. This analogy will carry through the rest of the series so it’s important to lay the groundwork early on.

We are now ready for the problem…

References (book):
– The Alphabetic Labyrinth (Drucker)
– Letter Perfect (David Sacks)
– Empire and Communications (Innis)
– The Mathematical Theory of Communication (Shannon)

Image References:
http://cuneiform.library.cornell.edu/ (Cuneiform Library at Cornell)
– Egyptian photography thanks to Anne Mullier (Louvre, Department of Egyptian Antiquities) http://ritournelleblog.com/

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