German chemist Wilhelm Ostwald saw the potential of advertising for science

Ostwald also believed in using the methods of advertising to propagate scholarly work. Up until then advertising had served primary commercial interests. Ostwald argued that it could be pressed into the service of scholarship and education, helping to provide a platform for popularizing scientific findings and connecting the general public and the scholarly community. “The engineer cannot talk,” he said, advocating that schools should put a special emphasis on ensuring better communication and what today we might call presentation skills.

Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age, Chapter 9, The Collective Brain, pg 207. Alex Wright

Paul Otlet’s contemporary Wilhelm Ostwald understood that to build a “global brain” the general public needed to understand it’s value. It needed to be made, well, popular. And he saw that advertising could be a tool to build public support.

This reminds me of Richard W. Hamming’s idea “The duty of a scientist is not only to research, but to communicate.


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