In an October 14th article in the New Yorker about the use of Artificial Intelligence to generate prose, John Seabrook wrote: “A recent exhibition on the written word at the British Library dates the emergence of cuneiform writing to the fourth millennium B.C.E., in Mesopotamia”. That got me thinking about some notes I once took on the early history of metadata, and I wondered if there was any scholarship to show that the earliest metadata is as old as the earliest writing. Not…

A schemaless computer database in 1965

To enable flexible metadata aggregation, among other things.

I’ve been reading up on America’s post-war attempt to keep up the accelerated pace of R&D that began during World War II. This effort led to an infrastructure that made accomplishments such as the moon landing and the Internet possible; it also led to some very dry literature, and I’m mostly interested in what new metadata-related techniques were developed to track and share the products of the research as they led to development.