Antelopes are sometimes documents:

 

And any discussion of the natural class of unnatural categorizations should mention Borges' celebrated discussion of "El Idioma Analítico de John Wilkins" -- discussed in Language Log here -- as well as Suzanne Briet's widely-cited analysis of when an antelope is a document. As Michael Buckland explains:

    One individual, who had, for years, been involved in discussions of the nature of documentation and documents, addressed the extension of the meaning of "document" with unusual directness. Suzanne Briet (1894-1989), also known as Suzanne Dupuy and as Suzanne Dupuy-Briet was active as a librarian and documentalist from 1924 to 1954 (Lemaître & Roux-Fouillet 1989; Buckland 1995).

    In 1951 Briet published a manifesto on the nature of documentation, Qu'est-ce que la documentation, which starts with the assertion that "A document is evidence in support of a fact." ("Un document est une preuve à l'appui d'un fait" (Briet, 1951, 7). She then elaborates: A document is "any physical or symbolic sign, preserved or recorded, intended to represent, to reconstruct, or to demonstrate a physical or conceptual phenomenon". ("Tout indice concret ou symbolique, conservé ou enregistré, aux fins de représenter, de reconstituer ou de prouver un phénomène ou physique ou intellectuel." p. 7.) The implication is that documentation should not be viewed as being concerned with texts but with access to evidence.

    Briet enumerates six objects and asks if each is a document.

    Object --- Document?
    Star in sky -- No
    Photo of star -- Yes
    Stone in river -- No
    Stone in museum -- Yes
    Animal in wild -- No
    Animal in zoo -- Yes

    There is discussion of an antelope. An antelope running wild on the plains of Africa should not be considered a document, she rules. But if it were to be captured, taken to a zoo and made an object of study, it has been made into a document. It has become physical evidence being used by those who study it. Not only that, but scholarly articles written about the antelope are secondary documents, since the antelope itself is the primary document.

 

http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~buckland/whatdoc.html

 

 

See Also

Atomicity
Wittgenstein


 

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