Technology of societies

As I’ve written before, sometimes I find something that just makes me raise my eyebrows… and back away slowly… and, okay, lots more people should actually see this. Thus I present to you everything you never even thought to wonder about how the Athenians process-ified Democracy.

The Athenians had to keep those bodies flowing smoothly, then, and that was largely a matter of keeping track of who belonged where and when. They also had to maintain a smooth and dependable flow of the information generated by those bodies — the votes, the decrees, the endless speechifying. They had, in short, to do a lot of stuff that modern information technology would have helped them tremendously to do, and nonetheless they managed pretty well, with the materials at hand, to build the tools they needed to make their system work.

Those tools — the info tech of ancient Athenian democracy — are the subject of the following Notes. I present them now without further ado.

~ Julian Dibbell from,


I’m at a loss for words here. o_O