Love this – even has the memex (meme machine)
I personally went from Claude Shannon (as a teenager)
to David Hartley (Didn’t hear of until two days ago) over time.
I got back to Claude Shannon vis Hartley’s “Association of Ideas” to this portrait of the drastically changed meaning of the word “Information” during the 18th century back up to Claude Shannon.
“We can hear further echoes of the eighteenth century optimism in Vanevar Bush, the early and influential computer pioneer. As he developed his model of the memex computer, he portrayed the mind as a mechanism responding to “information … transmitted to the brain,” which he describes with the very Hartleyan terms of “associations,” “vibrations,” or “impulses that flow in … the nerves” (and which Bush suggests might fruitfully be intercepted). Like Hartley, Reid, Priestley, and Knox (who argued “the Spirit speaks a universal language, addressing itself to the feelings of the heart, which are the same wherever sounds are uttered,”), Bush suggested that information is somehow prior to language, which merely obfuscates human communication, and encouraged the design of a universal replacement more suitable for mechanization. (He, perhaps, needed cautioning by Paine, who responded to the similar enthusiasms of his century with the caution “Human language … is local … therefore incapable of being used as the means of unchangeable and universal information.”)
Similar deterministic assumptions can found in many of the responses to Claude Shannon’s information theory—a theory that defines information by its efficacy. “
“The Ageing of Information”, Paul Duguid