–noun, plural -tor•ies.
1. a receptacle or place where things are deposited, stored, or offered for sale: a repository for discarded clothing.
2. an abundant source or supply; storehouse: a repository of information.
So there you have it: a place where information is deposited. Repositories are ancient, there’s nothing new about them. Mankind has been gathering and storing knowledge ever since they realized they can do things which no other critter on this planet can do (for now). Some of these repositories have taken on almost legendary proportions like e.g. the library of Alexandria, that famous repository of knowledge of the ancient world. For centuries though, such repositories were only accessible for a select group of people: scholars, nobility, clergy, etc. After all knowledge is power and quite a few people didn’t exactly feel like sharing that power.
But let’s flash-forward in time just a little bit, to the 20th century to be somewhat more exact. The “microcomputer” was born, which opened up a multitude of options concerning the sharing of knowledge. But unless you went around exchanging a diverse selection of ever more exotic media to get knowledge from one computer to another, sharing knowledge was still cumbersome. That turned out to be a minor obstacle though. We can’t share information between computers? Well, then let’s hook them up in one big global network. Anno 2010 we call this the “internet”.
Coming up with a global (no pun intended) definition of the internet is difficult to say the least. For the sake of simplicity and to keep things confined to the context of this article its best regarded as an almost infinite repository of knowledge. There are the obvious repositories like Wikipedia and YouTube, but also things like the BBC News website, a local broadcaster’s television guide, etc.
There’s thousands of ways we can use these repositories to share information, but because of that global information highway at least we can do it with relative ease. At the same time we risk flooding people with enormous amounts of information which might be irrelevant in their specific case. So we built repositories on top of repositories to facilitate our quest for that particular piece of knowledge. Google is just one the many examples of super-repositories out there. It “knows” a lot of things about an even bigger amount of websites, thus making it easier for us to find that which we are looking for. At least in theory.
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