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Mundaneum – A piece of pre-internet history

Mundaneum – Mons, Belgium

Recently I was at the Google Belgium offices in Brussels for a certification class and noticed a piece of what seemed to be an old archive closet. It turned out that it was part of a Belgian project from 1895 aimed to collect and store information from all over the world with more than 12 million index cards and documents:
The “Mundaneam” project
Read on and be amazed…

The web time forgot

New York Times

Some consider it a forerunner of the Internet (or, perhaps more appropriately, of systematic knowledge projects such as Wikipedia etc…) The inventor himself had dreams that one day, somehow, all the information he collected could be accessed by people from the comfort of their own homes. Ultimately, this project was never realised as the Mundaneum project soon faced the scale of the technical development of its era.

Watch this video and be amazed!


Learn more about the Mundaneum on
Google Arts & Culture

In 2012 Google announced forming a partnership with the museum in Mons, Belgium, dedicated to a long-ago venture to compile and index knowledge in a giant, library-style card catalog with millions of entries — an analog-era equivalent of a search engine or Wikipedia.

Interesting Links


“The web time forgot” (New York Times)

Manu Mateos, Paul Otlet, el desconocido abuelo de la Web, Xataka On, 25.05.2014, Spain
Matthias Verbergt, Hoe een Brusselaar in 1934 Internet bedacht, De Morgen, 28.05.2014, Belgium
Carina Kolodny, This Man imagined the Internet in 1895, The Huffington Post, 29.05.2014, USA
Maria Popova, The Birth of the Information Age: How Paul Otlet’s Vision for Cataloging and Connecting Humanity Shaped Our World, Brain, 09.06.2014, USA

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