This book is the revised transcription of the San Giorgio 2014 Conference, Bibliotechnica: Digital Arts, Philology, Art History, and Knowledge Worlds, held at the Cini Foundation. The dialogue was planned and conducted by Simon Schaffer, Pasquale Gagliardi, and John Tresch; the three of us thank all the participants for their energy, ideas and patience. We are particularly grateful to Murtha Baca and Geoffrey Bowker for their willingness to lend their time, expertise, and moral support throughout the preparation of this book, and to Matteo Broccoli for creating the cover and layout. We also thank Marissa Clifford of the Getty Research Institute for her decisive help in revising a first draft, along with Zachary Loeb and Cory Knudson of the University of Pennsylvania, who skillfully and diligently copy-edited and revised the essays and debates. Although John Tresch is named as this book’s editor, neither the conference that started it nor the final production would have been imaginable without the generosity, effort, and insights of Simon Schaffer and Pasquale Gagliardi. Finally, our thanks are gratefully offered to Anna Lombardi of the Cini Foundation for her innumerable acts of support and her crucial assistance throughout the project.
How do changing technologies of the library alter the ways we relate to knowledge, nature, and each other? What do we learn about the present and future of data storage, analysis, and retrieval by studying the machines that have made these practices possible, from ancient Greece and China, all the way to contemporary global networks? Bibliotechnica explores how today’s emerging digital order depends on earlier techniques of handling information, and suggests ways in which the ideals of humanist scholarship may continue to serve as guides into strange new worlds.