This may at first sight seem to be a subject of somewhat tepid interest, and so indeed it can be if approached in a conventional spirit. Yet in truth there can be few questions of more fundamental importance. Knowledge, research, discovery, and indeed our daily life, are all based on that organization of recorded knowledge which is called documentation, and can be successfully and efficiently achieved or conducted precisely to the extent that they are well documented. So much is obvious, but this is only the beginning of the story. Organized knowledge, and all the things that result from it—in other words, human civilization as we understand it—is not a thing that exists in itself. A living, developing community is inseparable from its records. History displays only too many civilizations which have died and left their monuments behind them as melancholy memorials of human decadence and folly. But the mind cannot even conceive of the opposite case, of the survival of a civilization if the documents, in the widest sense, be destroyed in which it is recorded.
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