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The Quest for Knowledge

Dan Cohen’s article From “Babel to Knowledge: Data Mining Large Digital Collections” begins by discussing the plot of a short story entitled “The Library of Babel” in which the main character is searching through an endless sea of books in search of enlightenment. This concept reminded me greatly of The Laurentian Library in Florence. Italy The library is nearly 500 years old and was commissioned by the Ruling Medici Family to share there vast collection of manuscripts and books which at the time was one of the largest in the world. The library was constructed in the architectural style known as mannerism and features many individual elements designed by the legendary artist Michelangelo.

The reason I bring up the Laurentian Library is because of one of its most distinguishing architectural elements is the grand staircase that serves as the entrance way to the library. The staircase which was designed by Michelangelo forces the visitor to walk upwards and then make a sharp right turn in order to gain access to the library. This is symbolic of the arduous journey to obtain knowledge. When exiting the patron can exit in a straight path down the same staircase, symbolic of the enlightenment the individual achieves from research.

Research today as Dan Cohen points out as been dramatically modernized with technological integration which allows the once tedious task of research to be done much more easily. In particular the article addresses API’s or application programming interfaces which interestingly allow programmers “Query their databases directly (from server to server without using their web interfaces).” These interesting technological concepts will indeed make intellectual enlightenment a faster and more efficient process than it was during the height of the Renaissance in Italy.

~ by kroll on November 10, 2012.

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