Revolutions and Images and the Development of Knowledge: Implications for Research Libraries and Publishers of Scholarly Communications
Lukesh, Susan (2002) Revolutions and Images and the Development of Knowledge: Implications for Research Libraries and Publishers of Scholarly Communications. The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 7 (3).
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A decade ago, Steve Harnad posited a fourth revolution in the means of the production and dissemination of knowledge. This essay examines the role of images in the third and fourth revolutions based on the belief that understanding the past sets the present and future in context, and assists in understanding the present and preparing for the future. Three interesting comparisons emerge. First, the third revolution introduced "exact repeatability." Yet, while the digital image has made exact repeatability effortless, it has also opened the door to continual changes bringing into question provability and demonstration of exact repetition. Second, the third revolution was about fixing reality, especially in the scientific world. Today we are about multiple and changing realities. Finally, the third revolution was about creating a linear fixity, specifically with relationship to the alphabet and the nature of argument and discourse. Today we are able to represent the nonlinearity of human experience, and, as we do so, we will further change the nature of how we think. The conclusions suggest that, despite the advantages of ease of access, rapid dissemination, and immediate feedback offered by the capabilities available in the fourth revolution, it is in the ability to represent the three- and four-dimensionality as well as the nonlinearity of the human experience that we will see the most startling revolution in the production and dissemination of knowledge.
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