Paul M. DoverFeb 25, 2022
The Information Revolution in Early Modern Europe
Cambridge University Press 2021
In The Information Revolution in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2021), Dr. Paul Dover argues that changes in the generation, preservation and circulation of information, chiefly on newly available and affordable paper, constituted an 'information revolution'. In commerce, finance, statecraft, scholarly life, science, and communication, early modern Europeans were compelled to place a new premium on information management. Dr. Dover argues that “paper, as never before, became the transactional medium; the repository of personal, communal, and institutional memory; the avenue of communication; the lifeblood of bureaucracies; and the foundation and residue of learning. Early modern Europeans, whether or not they sought to, and whether or not they were pleased with or trusted the new reality, put paper inscribed with text at the centre of their lives.” He argues that these developments had a profound and transformative impact on European life.
The book focuses on “two related and simultaneous developments in early modern Europe: the great increase in information created and circulating in European society, largely rendered on paper, and the accompanying efforts to manage and make sense of it, also chiefly via paper.” The huge expansion in paper records and the accompanying efforts to store, share, organize and taxonomize them are intertwined with many of the essential developments in the early modern period, including the rise of the state, the Print Revolution, the Scientific Revolution, and the Republic of Letters.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.