Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Mundaneum

A piece in the Times, “The Web Time Forgot,” focuses on Paul Otlet, “one of technology’s lost pioneers.”
When he finally entered secondary school, he made straight for the library. “I could lock myself into the library and peruse the catalog, which for me was a miracle,” he later wrote. Soon after entering school, Otlet took on the role of school librarian.
In the years that followed, Otlet never really left the library. Though his father pushed him into law school, he soon left the bar to return to his first love, books. In 1895, he met a kindred spirit in the future Nobel Prize winner Henri La Fontaine, who joined him in planning to create a master bibliography of all the world’s published knowledge.
Otlet’s bibliographical project led to the establishment of the Mundaneum, an unmanageable paper “city of knowledge,” which inspired an early conception of a global information network.

Link to “The Web Time Forgot”: