2015 Schedule
Interactive: March 13–17  •  Film: March 13–21  •  Music: March 17–22

The Secret History of Hypertext

Friday, March 13
12:30PM - 1:30PM

JW Marriott
Salon 3
110 E 2nd St


In 1934, a little-known Belgian bibliographer named Paul Otlet described something very much like the Internet, sketching out plans for a network of "electric telescopes" connecting people to a vast collection of documents, images, and audio-visual material. He dubbed the whole thing the Mundaneum, describing it as a "réseau mondial" - a worldwide web.
Why should anyone care about the failed schemes of a long-dead Belgian bibliographer? Otlet's work matters today not just as a kind of historical curio, but because he envisioned a radically different kind of network: one driven not by corporate profit and personal vanity, but by a utopian vision of intellectual progress, social egalitarianism, and even spiritual liberation.
This presentation will delve deep into Otlet's alternative vision of a global network, in search of useful lessons that could reshape our understanding of what the Internet could yet become.


#sxsw #paulotlet


Alex Wright


Cataloging the World

Alex Wright is a Brooklyn-based writer, researcher, and designer whose most recent book is Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age. His first book Glut: Mastering Info...

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