Aug. 23rd, 2015

elingregory: (iron)
The Google Doodle today was labelled Mundaneum and I couldn't quite remember what it was. That's been happening a lot lately. I guess I need more RAM? Anyhow I clicked on it and there it was on Wikipedia, in all its glory.

The Mundaneum - a paper version of the world wide web made in 1910 by two Belgian lawyers researching documentation science.



Everything was cross referenced against everything else according to a numerical system called the Universal Decimal Classification so it should be possible to follow routes of research by going from one numerical reference to another. There's a museum in Wallonia where one can view what remains of the Mundaneum - parts were lost during WW2 and other parts have been damaged by neglect.

In the process I remembered why I sort of recognised it. In 1982, when I first started working for the museum, a modern version was being launched called the SHIC classification system that had been designed especially for museum archivists. SHIC = Social History and Industrial Classification. Every social history item could be logged with a series of numbers. Say one had a photo of some Morris dancers. That counts as part of Community Life - 1 - subdivided to Cultural Traditions - 1.1 - but if the dance was part of a Mummer's Play only performed at a solstice then it would fall under Custom and Belief and Calendar Customs which would give it a code of 1.116 AND/OR as Community Entertainment - 1.66 - and if the photo was part of a newsclipping then it would also fall under dessemination of information which would take it into a whole new category. For example, smelling salts should normally be classified to 2.7, but smelling salts in a small bottle obviously carried around by one particular individual should be classified to 3.72. A scrapbook about a coal mining disaster would be classified to 4.2121.81, but a scrapbook recording the life of one particular individual would be classified to 3.12. A pipe rack would be classified to 2.68, but a pipe would normally be classified to 3.63.

Not confusing at all! Obviously.

Then the personal computer revolution kicked off with searchable databases and the SHIC system fell into disuse. I rather regret that somewhere in my head there's a whole bunch of bits and bytes where bunches of info from the system is stored, hard to get at but still present. Local topography - 1.92 - crop spraying - 4.13. I wonder why I can remember those when I often can't remember a doctor's appointment or to pick up a prescription.

More RAM.

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elingregory

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