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Tracing back the posthumous invention of the internet, and how the internet turned into Google

1998

2003


'Otlet imagined a day when users would access the database from great distances by means of an “electric telescope” connected through a telephone line, retrieving a facsimile image to be projected remotely on a flat screen. In Otlet’s time, this notion of networked documents was still so novel that no one had a word to describe these relationships, until he invented one: “links.” Otlet envisioned the whole endeavor as a great “réseau”—web—of human knowledge.'[1]

2007

Bernard Otlet (great-grandson): Paul Otlet, inventor of the internet [2]

2008


'Building Society, Constructing Knowledge, Weaving the Web: Otlet’s Visualizations of a Global Information Society and His Concept of a Universal Civilization'[3]

'Paul Otlet's visionary Mundaneum was a proto-internet made of 3-by-5-inch index cards'[4]

2009


Jean-Michel Djian, "Le Mundaneum, Google de papier" & "le Mundaneum, a posé les bases de la science documentaire – et préfigurait Internet avec un siècle d’avance." Jean-Paul Deplus quoted in Jean-Michel Djian: "Ils ont inventé Google avant la lettre. Non seulement ils l’ont fait avec les seuls outils dont ils disposaient, c’est-à-dire de l’encre et du papier, mais leur imagination était si féconde que l’on a retrouvé les dessins et croquis de ce qui préfigure Internet un siècle plus tard."[5]

2010


'He also wrote extensively about the need for a universal network for the communication of knowledge. His theoretical approach to the organi-zation and dissemination of information was far ahead of its time, notably in foreshadowing the Internet, Hypertext, and the World Wide Web.'[6]

2011


"Netzvisionär Paul Otlet: Googles genialer Urahn. Er plante ein mechanisches Gehirn und kabellose Kommunikation: Der belgische Bibliothekar Paul Otlet entwarf Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts die erste Suchmaschine der Welt - lange vor Computern und Internet. Warum gerieten seine revolutionären Ideen in Vergessenheit?"[7]

'Our view is that the creative ways in which he [Paul Otlet] faces tensions of scalability, representation, and perception of relationships between knowledge objects might be of interest today.'[8]

2012

2013

'The unsung heroes of the Internet'[9]

2014

'The idea of the internet was born in Belgium. Idea No.1: The Mundaneum'[10]

"L'homme qui a presque inventé le cyberespace : Paul Otlet"[11]

"Le père (belge) de l’idée du web"[12]

2015

"C’est « Le Monde » qui appelé le Mundaneum, « Google de papier », une expression qui a fait florès. (...) C’est dans la ville du doudou qu’on peut désormais revoir ce qui reste de cette grandiose utopie, d’avant l’ordinateur."[13]

'Years later, Paul brought clarity and a future to the project through his vision for the Mundaneum: a universal system of written, visual, and audio information that people could access from the comfort of their own homes. The roots of that vision took hold just a few decades later when engineers planted the technological seeds that brought electronic information sharing to life.'[14]

'Today’s decision underlines what people who use the service tell us: Google Books gives them a useful and easy way to find books they want to read and buy, while at the same time benefiting copyright holders,” said Gina Scigliano, a spokeswoman for Google. “We’re pleased the court has confirmed that the project is fair use, acting like a card catalog for the digital age.'[15]
  1. Alex Wright: Forgotten Forefather: Paul Otlet http://boxesandarrows.com/forgotten-forefather-paul-otlet
  2. "Paul Otlet: le rêve et la norme", 6 Feb. 2007: http://www.sonuma.be/archive/paul-otlet-le-r%C3%AAve-et-la-norme (min. 3:00)
  3. Van den Heuvel, C. Building society, constructing knowledge, weaving the web. Otlet’s visualizations of a global information society and his concept of a universal civilization. In W.B. Rayward (Ed.), (2008) European Modernism and the Information Society (pp. 127–153). London: Ashgate.
  4. When the internet was made of paper. By: Collins, Paul, New Scientist, 02624079, 3/22/2008, Vol. 197, Issue 2648
  5. Jean-Michel Djian, "Le Mundaneum, Google de papier," Le Monde Magazine, 19 December 2009, p. 46-50.
  6. Rayward, Warden Boyd (who translated and adapted), Mundaneum: Archives of Knowledge, Urbana-Campaign, Ill. : Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2010. Original: Charlotte Dubray et al., Mundaneum: Les Archives de la Connaissance, Bruxelles: Les Impressions Nouvelles, 2008.
  7. Netzvisionär Paul Otlet: Googles genialer Urahn. Meike Laaf, Der Spiegel 20.07.2011 http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/web/netzvisionaer-paul-otlet-googles-genialer-urahn-a-768312.html
  8. Charles van den Heuvel, W. Boyd Rayward, Facing Interfaces: Paul Otlet's Visualizations of Data Integration. Journal of the American society for information science and technology (2011)
  9. http://expositions.mundaneum.org/fr/conferences/linventeur-de-linternet-vinton-cerf-en-conference
  10. Jim Boulton: 100 ideas that changed the web Laurence King Publishing, 2014
  11. http://expositions.mundaneum.org/fr/conferences/lhomme-qui-presque-invente-le-cyberespace-paul-otlet
  12. http://expositions.mundaneum.org/fr/conferences/lhomme-qui-presque-invente-le-cyberespace-paul-otlet
  13. Le Mundaneum, le Google de papier. La Libre Belgique, 06.08.15 http://www.lalibre.be/culture/arts/le-mundaneum-le-google-de-papier-55c36e8b35708aa437655a75
  14. http://www.google.com/doodles/mundaneum-co-founder-paul-otlets-147th-birthday
  15. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-16/google-wins-appeals-court-approval-of-book-scanning-project-iftpwxl3

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