Happy Leap Day! I was joking with Bookman this morning that anything we do today will have no consequences since the day doesn’t really exist. Now that I think about it though, I wonder if consequences just take longer, like they catch up with you in four years on the next Leap Day? Can you imagine gorging on chocolate and then in four years suddenly not be able to button your pants? Ha! It’s kind of funny but also not.
There is a great article at Popular Mechanics of all places about How the Humble Index Card Foresaw the Internet. Did you know the index card was invented by Carl Linnaeus? He came up with the brilliant idea while working on his taxonomies.Then during the French Revolution, French libraries began using index cards to catalog their collections. Of course Melvil Dewey then ran with the idea and used index cards to create a card catalog system that served us well for a very long time. I used to love browsing card catalogs. I am really lucky to have some old cabinets in my house. I use them for storing seed packets, knitting needles, sock yarn, fountain pen ink, hair clips and other odds and ends. I love my card catalog so much!
In 1895 two crazy Belgians set out to create their own “search engine” by using an even more detailed system than Dewey’s and millions of index cards that filled 15,ooo catalog drawers. One of the pair, Paul Otlet, wrote a book about the project in 1935 called Monde in which he envisioned all the information one day being digitized because the card database was essentially unsustainable at large scales.
And now we have the internet, a ginormous collection of databases and indices, a card catalog of unimaginable proportions. When you consider the internet as something that evolved from index cards it really boggles the mind.
I love, love, love index cards even though I hardly use them any longer. I love them so much I want to have a reason to use them but computers are so darn handy these days I go digital before I consider analog. But I keep a stash ready for when a project comes up that begs to be organized on index cards rather than my computer. One of these days there will be something and Bookman will come home to find the living room floor covered in cards and me happily shuffling them around while humming a happy song.