Hypertext invented 50 years prior to the memex?

Did Paul Otlet beat Vannevar Bush to HyperText by 50 years? Paul Otlet had both the vision and a rudimentary implementation.

The following is from the blog of the Long Now Foundation, a great organization of which I’m a proud charter member.

Long Views » Blog Archive » Paul Otlet

Long Now seminar speaker Alex Wright brought to all of our attention the truly visionary work of Belgian Paul Otlet and his Mundameum of 1910 (video from a documentary above, and Stewart Brand’s description from the talk below.)

The greatest unknown revolutionary was the Belgian Paul Otlet. In 1895 he set about freeing the information in books from their bindings. He built a universal decimal classification and then figured out how that organized data could be explored, via “links” and a “web.” In 1910 Otlet created a “radiated library” called the Mundameum in Brussels that managed search queries in a massive way until the Nazis destroyed the service. Alex Wright showed an astonishing video of how Otlet’s distributed telephone-plus-screen sysem worked . – Stewart Brand on Alex Wright

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