May 20 2013

The story of information sharing

I share interesting sights on Snapchat, fun events on Facebook and my gym progress on Fitocracy. I share my opinions and interesting links on Reddit, and converse with people on Twitter. Some of my friends regularly share their video gaming on Twitch TV. Not only do we share way more information with people than the last generation would have found appropriate, we share more than any other generation has found possible. And yet it pales in comparison to what the next generation will do.

Sharing information changes our culture and history. Whether it’s the use of Twitter in the Arab Spring, Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride or hard-hitting newspaper journalism, information sharing changes how we see the world, and what we can know of it.

The most successful types of information sharing are ones that:

  • Allow a great amount of people
  • to precisely and unambiguously
  • share a great amount of ideas and information
  • with a great amount of other people

Although related, multicasting methods and technologies do not fall well under this hat. This includes anything that is focused on getting a relatively small set of ideas to as many people as possible. E.g. the printing press, the television, broadcast radio, etc.

What follows is a series of articles, each focusing on an important part of the narrative of information sharing:

  1. Writing
  2. The mail service and the telegram
  3. The telephone
  4. Email
  5. BBSes
  6. The web and modern social media
  7. The future of information sharing

We are neither at the beginning nor the end of this development. The narrative has been playing out for millennia, and it’s nowhere near over.