Sunday, August 14, 2005

H. G. Wells: The World Brain

The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962)
Directed by Joseph Green

From O'Reilly Radar: H. G. Wells's "address to the world congress of librarians of 1937 and his proposal for a global encyclopedia, that was later published in his 1938 book, World Brain".

"We want... a universal organization and clarification of knowledge and ideas... what I have here called a World Brain, operating by an enhanced educational system through the whole body of mankind... a widespread world intelligence conscious of itself...

"The phrase "Permanent World Encyclopaedia" conveys the gist of these ideas. As the core of such an institution would be a world synthesis of bibliography and documentation with the indexed archives of the world. A great number of workers would be engaged perpetually in perfecting this index of human knowledge and keeping it up to date...

"Few people as yet, outside the world of expert librarians and museum curators and so forth, know how manageable well-ordered facts can be made, however multitudinous, and how swiftly and completely even the rarest visions and the most recondite matters can be recalled, once they have been put in place in a well-ordered scheme of reference and reproduction... There is no practical obstacle whatever now to the creation of an efficient index to all human knowledge, ideas and achievements, to the creation, that is, of a complete planetary memory for all mankind....

"This... foreshadows a real intellectual unification of our race. The whole human memory can be, and probably in a short time will be, made accessible to every individual. And... this new all-human cerebrum need not be concentrated in any one single place. It need not be vulnerable as a human head or a human heart is vulnerable. It can be reproduced exactly and fully, in Peru, China, Iceland, Central Africa, or wherever else seems to afford an insurance against danger and interruption. It can have at once, the concentration of a craniate animal and the diffused vitality of an amoeba..."

See also:
Wikipedia: World Brain
World Brain: The Idea of a Permanent World Encyclopaedia - H.G. Wells
H.G. Wells’s Idea of a World Brain: A Critical Re-Assessment - Boyd Rayward

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