L'antico e il nuovo

Multimedia 7:37-43; 40-45 (1992)
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The paper discusses problems related to historical change in the field of technology applied to the preservation and communication of knowledge. Debates of the years 1990s about the possible decadence of (printed) books in favour of other technologies, are evaluated with the help of a historical analogy. The art of memory was a widespread non-material technique for managing information in a world of prevalent oral communication, which was set aside by the new technologies of printed communication. In the first part, the Author discusses the final phase in the history of the art of memory, sketching Lambert Schenckel’s biography as a good example of utmost individual success in the teaching of the art. Schenckel’s time sees the maximum demand for teaching in the art of memory; nevertheless those are the years when the printed book has already completely won its battle. The second part regards the possibility of a survival of the book as a technological model (i.e. as a model to build applications in new technologies for knowledge communication), notwithstanding the technologies involved in its production, just as the art of memory has been recently used as a model for constructing hypermedia, and just as the book itself survived technological revolutions in past ages. The issue is discussed carefully avoiding to engage in prophecy
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