COMM12022 Blog: #2

Writing Before Writing


‘‘God made the integers; all else is the work of man,’’ (Allen, 2014). It can be said that the creation and development of numbers came from practical needs of those some 20,000 years ago when the number ‘1’ was found as a counting symbol on a bone (Allen, 2014).

When looking back at how numbers came to be, we sway toward the historical origins and contemporary uses. The most important number is ‘1’, it is a complicated story as it has more than five forms. The first and oldest dating back in history is ordinal and cardinal.  An ordinal is the descriptive word for a number of its place in order (i.e. first, second, third). A cardinal number is a number that describes how much or many of something there are (i.e. one, two, three etc).

The development of numbers lead to counting and mathematics which came to be when people converged and cities were formed. People would use numbers to keep track of livestock, crops and artisan goods located in the same place, as it was used up, added to or traded (Law, 2012). The notion of counting was introduced through the method of tokens. If a person had 4 chickens, they had 4 tokens. If one chicken died, the person would have one token removed, from this way of thinking, arithmetic was invented.

Numbers helped form the way society works. If it wasn’t for early mathematicians such as Pythagoras and Archimedes, such math equations would not exist, eliminating many of the modern uses for math such as architecture, engineering, science, geography all to be desired. Poe says “they also represented a revolution in communications. For the first time it was recognized that any symbol could be made to stand for any thing or any idea” (Poe, 2014). This forged the way for written communication as we knew it. “you could simply make up never symbols and assign them meanings by associating them with ideas or things. Any idea or thing could be ‘written’ using this technique” (Poe, 2014).

Allen, G 2014, ‘The Remarkable Number ‘1”, Science & Education, 23, 9, pp. 1845-1852, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 15 April 2016.

A brief history of numbers and counting, Part 1: Mathematics advanced with civilization | Deseret News. 2016. A brief history of numbers and counting, Part 1: Mathematics advanced with civilization | Deseret News. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 16 April 2016].

Poe, MT 2010, A History Of Communications. [Electronic Resource] : Media And Society From The Evolution Of Speech To The Internet, n.p.: Leiden : Cambridge University Press, 2010., CQUniversity Library Catalogue, EBSCOhost, viewed 16 April 2016



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