Paul Otlet


Long Now seminar speaker Alex Wright brought to all of our attention the truly visionary work of Belgian Paul Otlet and his Mundaneum of 1910 (pictured above, and Stewart Brand’s description from the talk below.)

The greatest unknown revolutionary was the Belgian Paul Otlet.
In 1895 he set about freeing the information in books from their
bindings. He built a universal decimal classification and then
figured out how that organized data could be explored, via “links”
and a “web.” In 1910 Otlet created a “radiated library” called the
Mundaneum in Brussels that managed search queries in a massive way
until the Nazis destroyed the service. Alex Wright showed an
astonishing video of how Otlet’s distributed telephone-plus-screen
system worked
. – Stewart Brand on Alex Wright

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