Mondothèque: A Radiated Book
In 1919 the Mundaneum occupied half of the majestic Cinquantenaire building in Brussels. The ambitious project was imagined by Paul Otlet and Henri Lafontaine as a mix between documentation center, conference venue and educational display. “The Mundaneum is an Idea, an Institution, a Method, a Body of workmaterials and collections, a Building, a Network.” (Paul Otlet, Monde)
In 2013 a band of artists, archivists and activists set out to unravel the many implications of a statement that routinely compared the Mundaneum to “Google on paper”. Under the moniker Mondotheque they organised discussions, reflections and workshops in various locations. A Semantic MediaWiki functioned as a platform for writing, editing and bookdesign. The publication of Mondotheque::a radiating book creates a moment, an incision into this collaborative process. It is an invitation into the entanglements of knowledge infrastructures, geo-politics and local histories.
In 2016, well way into the Mondotheque project, Femke Snelting invited to join and help transclude the content, structures and interconnections of the articles written in the Mondothèque wiki onto a paper publication. Far from being an individual effort, this process involved the whole editorial team, which besides myself and Femke included Sînziana Păltineanu, Dennis Pohl, Dick Reckard, Natacha Roussel, Alexia de Visscher. We devised a wiki-to-PDF workflow, using primarily the Mediawiki API to select and download articles' wiki pages as HTML files, and Weasyprint with custom CSS stylesheets for print to convert the HTML files into a printable PDF, plus some custom scripts to manipulate the HTML content . The resulting publication can be downloaded from http://www.mondotheque.be/wiki/index.php/File:Book.pdf .