Weekly Response Post 11: Emily Moyer

Alex Wright and W. Boyd Rayward’s articles shed light on Paul Otlet, a man that paved the way for many of the conceptual frameworks and ideas about the organization of information that we have today. Although both authors stop short of stating Otlet’s influence on the creation of the World Wide Web, Otlet’s foresight about the possibilities of networks and linked data is incredible nonetheless. He understood the importance of the uniformity of data in that “if cards and sheets were standardized, especially as to size and weight, then it became possible to create collaboratively continuously expanding databases in these formats” (Rayward 293). This may seem like a simple concept, but the standardization of data is extremely important and an issue that we struggle with today in the case of metadata interoperability. Another of his prescient ideas was “conceptual maps” that “played in simplified, visual form, the intricate relationships of the concepts embraced within various subject areas” (Rayward 294-95), sounding very similar to the linked hypertext context of Wikipedia. Most incredible, however, was Otlet’s view that information should be universally accessible by all, a vision which the Web is facilitating.


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