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Abstract

Paul Otlet's 1934 Traité de documentation is a landmark publication, but its considerable scope, complex structure and sheer volume make it a particularly challenging resource to use. This paper reports on an experiment in which visual methods and lexicometry are used to understand how the Traité is organized and what it is about. We describe the underlying logic of the experiment using the concepts of biblion and architext, then process the table of contents and full text of the book with several visualization methods, discussing their output. This allows us to confirm and expand on previous qualitative appraisal of the book, using quantitative methods. While primarily focused on the value of digital hermeneutics, the paper also touches on the heuristic potential of visualization when used as a methodology for data exploration.

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