The Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society has an article on the Mundaneum, an early Twentieth “index card internet”:

When the Mundaneum opened in 1910, its purpose was to collect all of the world’s knowledge on neatly organized 3″ x 5″ index cards. The brainchild of Belgian lawyer Paul Otlet and Nobel Peace Prize winner Henri LaFontaine, the vast project eventually totaled 12 million cards, each classified according to the Universal Decimal Classification system developed by Otlet.

Le Corbusier was one of many prominent figures enthralled by Otlet’s scheme of a “Universal Book.” He described it as a panorama of “the whole of human history from its origins,” and signed on to design an international “city of the intellect,” centered around the Mundaneum. [Read more.]

It wasn’t long after seeing Ong’s research card files, especially the Ramus cards complied while while working on his dissertation, that I realized the traditional method of using index cards to take notes was a database practice. (Actually, I think I had decided this before hand, but seeing Ong’s extensive files with cross-references made it painfully clear.)

I’m going to try to work this into my dissertation chapter on database composition, at least as a footnote to my discussion of Ong’s index cards and my own practices. I’m also going to try to work it into my Computers and Writing presentation “Database Rhapsody from the ‘Singer of Tales’ to ‘Geek DJs,’ which is based on that chapter. (( The ‘Singer of Tales,’ of course, refers to Albert Lord’s The Singer of Tales, and ‘Geek DJs’ is a term for bloggers used by Johndan Johnson-Eilola in Datacloud: Toward a New Theory of Online Work. ))

Via Johndan at work/space.