Mundaneum: the proto Web

March 19, 2010

Here’s a fun and interesting piece from Triplecanopy about Paul Otlet, the Belgian information scientist who attempted to build an early version of the Web on zillions of index cards. (ex 3quarksdaily) This was a quixotic venture, if there ever was one–and then the Nazis hit town.

Otlet had advanced ideas about information. He tried to build a Web that could track relationships between one nugget of information and another. In this, he was pursuing the same idea as the American visionary, Vannevar Bush. But while Bush wrote his 1945 article in The Atlantic Monthly, Otlet actually tried to build the thing.

If you’re interested in this history, you might take a look at Alex Wright’s excellent Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages…