By Markus Krajewski
This day on nearly each table in each workplace sits a working laptop or computer. 80 years in the past, computers have been built with a nonelectronic facts processing desktop: a card dossier. In Paper Machines, Markus Krajewski strains the evolution of this proto-computer of rearrangeable components (file playing cards) that grew to become ubiquitous in workplaces among the realm wars. the tale starts off with Konrad Gessner, a sixteenth-century Swiss polymath who defined a brand new approach to processing information: to chop up a sheet of handwritten notes into slips of paper, with one truth or subject in step with slip, and organize as wanted. within the overdue eighteenth century, the cardboard catalog grew to become the librarian's resolution to the specter of info overload. Then, on the flip of the 20th century, company followed the know-how of the cardboard catalog as a bookkeeping device. Krajewski explores this conceptual improvement and casts the cardboard dossier as a "universal paper laptop" that accomplishes the fundamental operations of Turing's common discrete computing device: storing, processing, and shifting info. In telling his tale, Krajewski takes the reader on a few illuminating detours, telling us, for instance, that the cardboard catalog and the numbered road handle emerged while within the comparable urban (Vienna), and that Harvard University's home-grown cataloging procedure grew out of a librarian's laziness; and that Melvil Dewey (originator of the Dewey Decimal process) helped result in the know-how move of card documents to company.
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Additional resources for Paper Machines: About Cards & Catalogs, 1548-1929 (History and Foundations of Information Science)
What kind of canalization can cope with the data ﬂow pouring in from the former monasteries? Four main administrative tactics are put into effect. The successive comparisons between the cloister inventories and the court library’s stock serve as a ﬁrst ﬁlter. This evidently requires a complete catalog of existing books, not least for comparison’s sake. The insufﬁcient usability of the universal inventory of 1766/72 must have become obvious at this point. 70 The most important mechanism available to the librarian for countering the press of new knowledge via librarianship is indeed the catalog itself, which cannot avoid registering the additions, taking the full brunt of the ﬂood.
Optimistically, three months are estimated for compiling the bibliography in Paris. Yet it soon becomes clear that this will not sufﬁce, and it seems advisable to begin the procedure simultaneously in all eighty-three newly created départements. 1 Catalogus autorum Autorum nomina et Impressionis Com- Cista et Librorum tituli locus annus forma pactum Series D: Ambrossi Mediol. Episc: Parisiis 1549 Fol. Franzb. II. B Opera omnia in the districts, the committee recognizes the need for detailed procedures with which to instruct inexperienced assistants.
112 In the end, not a single volume of the planned national bibliography is printed on the basis of playing cards. The records do not even see any use as an incomplete collection, as a catalog construction site. Despite careful instructions, the project fails because of disruptions in the data ﬂow—the plan runs dry all too quickly. The procedure for bibliographical indexing itself again appears only as a step in a divided process, as in all previously described catalog projects since Gessner. The attempt to establish a lasting national monument on a truly contingent basis remains a purely temporary aid for the simpliﬁcation of sorting.