How things are linked

By | November 4, 2014

Paul Otlet, who has been considered the father of information science, created the Universal Decimal Classification to solve the problem of classifying human knowledge. As Alex Wright says in Forgotten Forefather: Paul Otlet, Otlet declares that “no document could be properly understood by itself, but that its meaning becomes clarified through its influence on other documents, and vice versa.” This allows me to think that all information surrounding us are linked, and they reflect and influence one another. It also means that to understand one thing, you need to also understand the other things linked to it. “[H]e believed that documents could best be understood as three-dimensional, with the third dimension being their social context: their relationship to place, time, language, other readers, writers and topics,” Wright describes, which I really agreed. Michel Foucault describes that “Order is…the hidden network that determines the way they confront one another…” Things are linked one another, and there is a ‘ordering codes.’ By experience culture, we naturally use and learn common “ordering codes and reflections upon order itself.”

After the Internet came, our experience of culture changed. As Wendy Hui Kyong Chun points out “the major characteristic of digital media is memory,” we have been saving the past based on our memories and experiences. It supposed to “encapsulate the enlightenment ideal that better information leads to better knowledge, but as Chun claims that the scientific archive is “trapping us in the past, making us repeat the present over and over again.” People cannot talk without Google which is based on memory from the past and restrain from taking picture and video even when they are experiencing precious moment. It means we rely on the memory in digital device, not in our mind. I feel and afraid that don’t we really think and use our brain any more? How can we make organization of human knowledge to point out better future in stead of repeating the past? We have to be more conscious about the hidden network and think how we are thinking/seeing the world, and where the sources are came from.

One thought on “How things are linked

  1. shannon Post author

    Thanks for highlighting links between these various readings, Eishin! You might recall that Warburg also thought that the *associations* between texts provided a context for meaning. And yes, as we become dependent on externalized memory devices — hard drives, data centers, etc. — we need to consider the differences between *storage* and *memory*, as Chun advocates.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *