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The Semantic Web, circa 1934

2 minute read

The Times has a great story today by Alex Wright on Paul Otlet’s early efforts to create a network of the information akin to today’s Web. In spite of bloviating along the lines of “The hyperlink is one of the most underappreciated inventions of the last century” (Kelvin Kelly, quoted for the article, apparently both asleep during the technology boom and never having read his own magazine, Wired), Wright’s piece treats Otlet’s work surprisingly fairly and is sensitive to the promise and limits of his analog approach. On the delivery side, Otlet imagined amalgamating the cutting-edge media technology of the day: telephone, radio, television. The glue for all this data would be the laborious human-directed cataloging and organization of information....