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Different from other revolutions which took place just once like Harari's

  • cognitive revolution
  • agricultural revolution
  • unification of mankind
  • scientific revolution

revolutions of communication took place several times (as I suppose):

  • by spoken language (part of Harari's cognitive revolution)
  • by paintings
  • by writing systems
  • by printing
  • by telegraphy
  • by broadcast technologies like radio and television
  • by telephone
  • by email and messaging
  • by broadcast technologies like WWW and social networks

Other aspects, forms and technologies of communication didn't come as revolutions but gently evolved (and didn't play such prominent roles):

I'm looking for references to concise overviews of these (and other) revolutions of communication, with a strong theoretical background (comparing and relating them to each other) that possibly give an outlook what might come next.

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    What is the question? Is this a list question? How will you select an authoritative answer? – Mark C. Wallace Jul 3 at 15:45
  • Yes, this is a list question (as indicated by the wording of my question and by the tag "reference"). I did not plan to select one authoritative answer. – Hans-Peter Stricker Jul 3 at 17:53
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I think you'd be very interested in the ideas of Douglas S. Robertson in The New Renaissance: Computers and the Next Level of Civilization. The chapter of the book relevant to this discussion is available free online from CNN.*

The basic thesis is that human civilizations are inherently information-limited. With this insight, we can sort civilizations into different "levels" by the order of magnitude of the amount of information (in bits) that individuals in that civilization have access to. His categories were:

  • 0 - Pre-Language: roughly 107 bits
  • 1 - Language: 109
  • 2 - Writing: 1011
  • 3 - Printing: 1017
  • 4 - Computers: 1025

Robertson objectively defined an Information Explosion:

It allows us to define an information explosion quantitatively as an increase of about two (or more) orders of magnitude in the production of information.

One of the things you may notice looking this over is that the leap between the first three levels isn't gigantic. This comports with the historical observation that literate Civilizations were occasionally overrun and destroyed by illiterate peoples, particularly early on in that level. However, once Europe got printing presses, their societies were simply in a different weight class than everyone else. Likewise we could look at this chart and fairly confidently predict that modern developed nations could wipe the floor with any participant in World War I.


* - Most of the rest of the book isn't as useful for your purposses, so I'd suggest just reading the link, unless you desire a hardcopy.

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By far the best book on history of communication of those which I read is Ludvík Souček, Kam nedosáhne hlas (Praha, 1964) in Czech. There is an excellent richly illustrated Russian translation: "Туда, где не слышно голоса" (1968). I do not know whether translations to other languages exist. According to Wikipedia, Souček is best known as a science fiction author. Of course his book does not cover the latest developments (Internet). My translation of the title is "Where voice does not reach".

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