151 readings - The Web Time ForgotBeason Robert G 1956 Your...

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The Web Time ForgotBeason, Robert G. 1956. “Your Tele- Time Magazine Staff. 1978. “The MONS, Belgium — On a fog-drizzled Monday afternoon, this  fading medieval city feels like a forgotten place. Apart from the  obligatory Gothic cathedral, there is not much to see here except  for a tiny storefront museum called the Mundaneum, tucked  down a narrow street in the northeast corner of town. It feels like  a fittingly secluded home for the legacy of one of technology’s   lost pioneers: Paul Otlet. In 1934, Otlet sketched out plans for a global network of   computers (or “electric telescopes,” as he called them) that would   allow people to search and browse through millions of interlinked   documents, images, audio and video files . He described how  people would use the devices to send messages to one another,  share files and even congregate in online social networks. He  called the whole thing a “r é seau,”  which might be translated as  “network” — or arguably, “web.” Historians typically trace the origins of the World Wide Web  through a lineage of Anglo-American inventors like Vannevar  Bush, Doug Engelbart and Ted Nelson. But more than half a   century before Tim Berners-Lee released the first Web browser in   1991, Otlet (pronounced ot-LAY) described a networked world   where “anyone in his armchair would be able to contemplate the   whole of creation.”
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Although Otlet’s proto-Web relied on a patchwork of analog   technologies like index cards and telegraph machines, it  nonetheless anticipated the hyperlinked structure of today’s Web.  “This was a Steampunk version of hypertext,” said Kevin Kelly,  former editor of Wired, who is writing a book about the future of  technology. Otlet’s vision hinged on the idea of a networked machine that  joined documents using symbolic links. While that notion may  seem obvious today, in 1934 it marked a conceptual  breakthrough. “The hyperlink is one of the most  underappreciated inventions of the last century,” Mr. Kelly said.  “It will go down with radio in the pantheon of great inventions.” Today, Otlet and his work have been largely forgotten, even in his  native Belgium. Although Otlet enjoyed considerable fame during  his lifetime, his legacy fell victim to a series of historical  misfortunes — not least of which involved the Nazis marching  into Belgium and destroying much of his life’s work.
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