Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Mundaneum

Google's doodle today (23rd August) is great.

This is what it looks like and I must confess I hadn't got a clue what it was about when I first saw it:

It's about The Mundaneum. I'd not heard of it before but now I've read about it, wow, what a thing.

It's a great example of a Google Doodle in that it gets you to learn about new things; but in this case it's even better because it makes you think about things, too. I would think of this massive edifice, with its drawerfuls of indexed information as something akin to a giant physical database. But now with computers easily capable of storing far vaster amounts of information, why hasn't an Internet Mundaneum been set up?

Maybe I'm thinking of it wrong - i.e. the physical Mundaneum is more akin to the architecture of the internet - and the digital Mundaneum is the internet. Or perhaps it's more akin to Wikipedia? I don't really think the latter can be true, as a true digital Mundaneum wouldn't limit articles at all; the way I see it, a real digital Mundaneum would have all the publically-available information in the world, right down to the tiniest detail. Wikipedia doesn't fulfil this criterion for lots of reasons.

So then, it's more similar to the internet. But that doesn't work either; not only is there the "right to be forgotten", there are huge swathes of archived material (newspapers spring to mind immediately; most of them haven't got around to digitising their pre-1990 material, but you can view most of them on microfiche right the way back to the first editions, if you're lucky enough to still have a library with such state-of-the-art 1970s technology.

Of course the original Mundaneum didn't contain everything known in 1910, so bemoaning the lack of a digital version isn't really fair. But I wish more newspapers would pull their fingers out and get their really old stuff onto the internet, that would be a decent start.

This all plays into one of my current obsessions: making a simulation of UK politics. I know it might not seem relevant, but I guess what I mean is that, within the simulation, each person would represent one of the Mundaneum's index cards...that's for another post, I think.

Edit:  Oh my, I've just found out about The Dymaxion Chronofile.  I might explode.

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