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Google will form partnership with Belgian 'paper internet' museum

Google will form partnership with Belgian 'paper internet' museum


Google plans to partner with the Belgian Mundaneum, a century-old internet-like collection of 12 million index cards meant to catalog the world's knowledge. Google will sponsor talks and a traveling exhibition.

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A century-old museum designed to catalog and connect the world's knowledge is getting some help from search giant Google. In the latest of several European philanthropic partnerships, Google will be sponsoring a traveling exhibit on the Mundaneum, a "paper internet" that includes over 12 million index cards meant to capture the sum of human understanding. It will also help set up a series of talks on Internet issues and may eventually digitize the archive's contents, says the Mundaneum's director Jean-Paul Deplus. In return, the museum will use the Google+ social network as part of its outreach efforts. The move comes as Google is facing increasing scrutiny in Europe for its new privacy policy.

The Mundaneum was founded in 1895 by Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine, who imagined a "city of knowledge" that would contain links to every book, picture, and document in the world. Organized in an interconnected "web" using a catalog system called the Universal Bibliographic Repertory, the information could be accessed by the public by mail or telegraph. Initially sponsored by the Belgian government, the Mundaneum lost funding in 1934 and was occupied by Nazis during World War II. It currently operates out of the city of Mons, where it exhibits the index cards and related documents and pictures.