Ideographies of Knowledge/Session 1

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Ideographies of Knowledge

A symposium unfolding from the intention to reflect upon the legacy of Paul Otlet and his work from the perspective of today's knowledge archives.

Saturday, 3 October 2015
Mundaneum, Rue de Nimy 76, Mons, Belgium

"Once one read; today one refers to, checks through, skims." – Paul Otlet, 1903

Session 1. Classes of the World – The Legacy of Paul Otlet[edit]

10:30 – 11:15 H

Paul Otlet, a pioneer of information science is today best known as co-initiator of the Universal Decimal Classification system, still used in national libraries of several countries. Other strands of his work began to be investigated on a larger scale only in the 1990s. What is the relevance of his work in light of digital networks?

Moderated by Dušan Barok.
Video by Stefan Piat.

Stéphanie Manfroid – Paul Otlet[edit]

A quote about the first publication of Otlet (SM)

l'ïle du Levant : PP PO 663 III, p.7. extrait du journal intime (Paper Book)- 1883 "Paul sais-tu bien ce que tu devrais faire? Réunir en un petit ouvrage quelques notes sur l'île du Levant et rapporte-les à ton père comme souvenir de ton séjour ici. Si c'est bien fait, nous le ferons imprimer". Imprimer. Ce mot me suffisait!"

Paul Otlet, Le cycle (ou chaine) fondamental(e) de la documentation (SM)

A schema of Otlet about the cycle of Documentation. (From Traite de documentation.) EUM 8505. (Otlet as organiser of knowledge)

A map of Westend, the city created by Paul Otlet at the North Sea (SM)

(Otlet as organiser of space)

Geraldine Juárez – Google's doodle on Paul Otlet[edit]

An image produced and distributed by Google to pay tribute to Paul Otlet in his 147 anniversary in the homepage of their search engine. The image and the blog post further integrate/fabricate to their corporate history a relation between Paul Otlet work and the services of Google, using "knowledge" and their Google Cultural institute as narrative thread.

Femke Snelting – Mining the Traité[edit]

On the fly, it is suggestive to draw a straight line from Otlet's statement that "Once one read; today one refers to, checks through, skims", to the practice of full-⁠text search, so successfully branded by the Alphabet companies. But even a superficial browsing of his book, Traité de documentation, shows that such a shortcut can be misleading. Otlet suggests several novel forms of reading, writing (including a pen with integrated eraser!) and dissemination of knowledge, but the book itself is entirely committed to the intellectual work of selecting and indexing documents. By turning The 'book on the book' into a bag of words and submitting it to some crude form of text-⁠mining, I'd like to make a start with finding out what emerges between these two very different approaches of knowledge indexing, rather than insisting on how the one pre-⁠thinks the other.


Continue to other sessions