Atoms versus digits

There is a sharp disagreement between James Lovelock and the widely held 1990s view that the World Encyclopedia will be based on an electronic infrastructure of telecommunications and computer equipment acting, in Hans Swegen’s terms, “as a global middle term memory of hundreds up to thousands of years”. Lovelock is even more traditional that H. G. Wells when he talked of colour microfilm as being the distribution technology of choice. According to Lovelock, “It is no use even thinking of presenting such a book on magnetic or optical media, or indeed any kind of medium that needs a computer and electricity to read it… What we need is a book written on durable paper with long-lasting print.”
In the 1990s sources, there is little discussion of the information management techniques which H. G. Wells believed were the most important practical necessity in implementing a world knowledge source. Hans Swegen does suggest that it would be “worthwhile looking into the past when you try to orient yourself into the future”, while Peter Russell puts his faith in human beings “continually discovering new relationships” and “increasingly organizing their information about the world”.


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