The First Data Center where all knowledge was a goal, where anyone could access the information - Ancient Alexandria

What is a Data Center?  A place to house IT equipment.  What is IT equipment for?  To support the receiving, organizing, processing, analysis, and distribution of information.  Before the Internet the most common way to get information was to go to the library.  Libraries were also places to meet others to discuss topics which support the development of knowledge to be shared.  The library seems so ancient.  But, long long ago there was a library that attempted to have all knowledge accessible to all people just like a data center service like Google Search.

One of the more interesting conversations I've enjoyed discussing with a friend, Fred Gainer who is a retired teacher is the role of museums and libraries in society.  This gets into the subject of Epistemology.

Epistemology (Listeni/ɨˌpɪstɨˈmɒləi/ from Greek ἐπιστήμη - epistēmē, meaning "knowledge, understanding", and λόγος logos, meaning "study of") is the branch ofphilosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge.[1][2] It questions what knowledge is, how it is acquired, and the possible extent a given subject or entity can be known.

I wrote previously posted on epistemology.

I saw a talk by John Leslie King Titled - Knowledge Infrastructure: Mechanism and Transformation in the Information.  One of the slides that got my attention was this one.


The role of the Academy in a systematic collecting of information for a crowd-sourced knowledge.

A great point was the knowledge in a perspective of reason for existence, and how what's obvious leads to thinking what's hidden.


One of the books that Fred suggested to read is 

The Rise and Fall of Alexandria: Birthplace of the Modern World


Warning this book is not a fast read and many of you may not be interested in the idea of how knowledge/information was developed to rival Athens and Rome as centers in the Ancient World.

I just finished the book this morning and the thing that hit me, thinking like a data center person is. The choices made by Ptolemy to make Alexandria a center of knowledge and a repository for books across a wide range of cultures is exactly what has made Google a source of information.

Many of the concepts to build Alexandria, its libraries and its open culture is what is being repeated now in the huge data centers whether they are Google, Facebook, Twitter, or Microsoft.

Reading the history of Alexandria gave me a bunch of ideas on how to approach a knowledge system.  The politics and people issues were huge in Alexandria's history.  

Alexandria became a center of learning and knowledge development.  Companies like Google are focused on developing better knowledge systems that allow them to learn things faster.

It was in Alexandria, during the six hundred years beginning around 300 B.C., that human beings, in an important sense, began the intellectual adventure that has led us to the shores of the cosmic ocean. The city was founded by Alexander the Great who encouraged respect for alien cultures and the open-minded pursuit of knowledge. He encouraged his generals and soldiers to marry Persian and Indian women. He respected the gods of other nations. He collected exotic lifeforms, including an elephant for Aristotle, his teacher. His city was constructed on a lavish scale, to be the world center of commerce, culture, and learning. It was graced with broad avenues thirty meters wide, elegant architecture and statuary, Alexander's monumental tomb, and an enormous lighthouse, the Pharos, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

But the greatest marvel of Alexandria was the Library and the associated Museum (literally, an institution devoted to the specialties of the Nine Muses). It was the citadel of a brilliant scientific tradition. The Library was constructed and supported by the Ptolemys, the Greek kings who inherited the Egyptian portion of the empire of Alexander the Great. From the time of its creation until its destruction seven centuries later, it was the brain and heart of the ancient world.