H.G. Wells’ “World Brain” is now here—what have we learned since?


Between November 1936 and November 1937, H.G. Wells gave a series of lectures in Great Britain, France, and the US about the world’s impending problems and how to solve them. The lectures were first published under the title “World Brain” in 1938, and they’re sweeping in scope. Wells argued for rearranging both education and the distribution of knowledge and thought we should probably get rid of nationalism while we’re at it. 

MIT Press has just issued a compendium of these lectures, along with related material Wells presented as magazine articles and radio addresses. The collection also includes a foreword by the science fiction writer Bruce Sterling and an introduction by Joseph Reagle, an associate professor of communication studies at Northeastern who writes and teaches about popular culture, digital communication, and online communities

Unequal information

Humanity had all of the information necessary to live together in peace and harmony, Wells told his audiences; the trouble was that this information existed in a disorganized, dispersed state, and most people didn’t have access to it. They certainly didn’t have access to the most up-to-date information, and with the rapid pace of technological advancement in the early twentieth century—leading to cars, planes, and especially radio—information needed updating constantly. 

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