In this essay I offer a theoretical argument for why Die Brücke’s commercial interests should not be seen as an addendum to its scholarly or scientific pursuits. More specifically, the story of Die Brücke is a story about the intertwining of the scientific and the commercial, of theoretical and applied forms of knowledge in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century culture. Die Brücke’s role as an “organizer of organizers” will be offered as a case study in this analysis, which also sheds new light on the history of standardization. Like a number of my colleagues, I suggest that Die Brücke deserves comparison with Paul Otlet’s Palais Mondial, which similarly set out to regulate the organization of human knowledge (see, e.g., Hapke, 1999, p. 143; Krajewski, 2006, p. 111). At the same time—and here is my more critical concern—I also suggest that its efforts anticipate those of standards-issuing organizations such as Waldemar Hellmich’s Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN). Both Die Brücke and DIN ultimately used paper standards to enforce the use of standards at large. They also shared common strategies for gaining a foothold in Germany’s nascent “office systems” industry.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 478-488
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.