20 December 2004

The Pursuit of Knowledge, From Genesis to Google : "The accumulation of knowledge isn't knowledge." - If Babel symbolized our incommensurate ambition, the Library of Alexandria showed how this ambition might be achieved. Set up by Ptolemy I in the third century B.C., it was meant to hold every book on every imaginable subject. by 1988, the Library of Congress alone was receiving 500,000 printed items per year, from which it sparingly kept about 400,000... Millions of pages will be waiting temptingly for their online readers and (to refer back to Genesis) "nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do." ...(but) reading, in order to allow reflection, requires slowness, depth and context; that leafing through a material book or roaming through material shelves is an intimate part of the craft... We can still read the words on papyrus ashes saved from the charred ruins of Pompeii; we don't know for how long it will be possible to read a text inscribed in a 2004 CD. ... Jorge Luis Borges, who once imagined an infinite library of all possible books, invented a Bouvard-and-P├ęcuchet-like character who tries to compile a universal encyclopedia so complete that nothing would be excluded from it. In the end, like his French forerunners, he fails, but not entirely.He realizes that his project was not impossible but merely redundant. The world encyclopedia, the universal library, already exists and is the world itself. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/19/weekinreview/19mang.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5040&en=13eb20f276348db8&ex=1104210000&partner=MOREOVER

MAP, a representation, on a plane and a reduced scale, of part or the whole of the earths surface. If specially designed to meet the requirements of seamen it is called a chart, if on an exceptionally large scale a plan. The words map and chart are derived from mappa and cliarta, the former being the Latin for napkin or cloth, the latter for papyrus or parchment. Maps were thus named after the material upon which they were drawn or painted. In Italian, Spanish and Portuguese the word mappa has retained its place, by the side of carte, for marine charts, but in other languages both kinds of maps are generally known by a word derived from the Latin charla, as carte in French, Karte in German, Kaart in Dutch. A chart, in French, is called carte hydrographique, marine or des ctcs; in Spanish or Portuguese carla de marear, in Italian carla da navigare, in German Seekarte (to distinguish it from Landkarte), in Dutch Zeekaart or ,Paskaart. A chart on Mercators projection is called Wassende graadkaart in Dutch, carte rduite in French. Lastly, a collection of maps is called an atlas, after the figure of Atlas, the Titan, supporting the heavens, which ornamented the title of Lafreris and Mercators atlases in the s6th century. http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/M/MA/MAP.htm

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