Web of Human Knowledge

Ross Mayfield links to a fascinating article on
Boxes and Arrows by Alex Wright about Paul Otlet: The forgotten forefather of information architecture.

“In 1934, years before Vannevar Bush dreamed of the memex, decades before Ted Nelson coined the term “hypertext,” Paul Otlet envisioned a new kind of scholar’s workstation: a moving desk shaped like a wheel, powered by a network of hinged spokes beneath a series of moving surfaces. The machine would let users search, read and write their way through a vast mechanical database stored on millions of 3×5 index cards.”

“This new research environment would do more than just let users retrieve documents; it would also let them annotate the relationships between one another, “the connections each [document] has with all other [documents], forming from them what might be called the Universal Book.”

There’s much-much more… The article is lengthy (compared to most blog posts), but well worth the time.