Author(s): Hannah B. Higgins
Emblematic of modernity, the grid is the underlying form of everything from skyscrapers and office cubicles to paintings by Mondrian and a piece of computer code. And yet, as Hannah Higgins makes clear in this engaging and evocative book, the grid has a history that long predates modernity; it is the most prominent visual structure in Western culture. In "The Grid Book", Higgins examines the history of ten grids that changed the world: the brick, the tablet, the gridiron city plan, the map, musical notation, the ledger, the screen, moveable type, the manufactured box, and the net. Charting the evolution of each grid, from the Paleolithic brick of ancient Mesopotamia through the virtual connections of the Internet, Higgins demonstrates that once a grid is invented, it may bend, crumble, or shatter, but its organizing principle never disappears. The appearance of each grid was a watershed event. Brick, tablet, and city gridiron made possible sturdy housing, the standardization of language, and urban development. Maps, musical notation, financial ledgers, and moveable type promoted the organization of space, music, and time, international trade, and mass literacy.