The content in Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie was not revolutionary. However, the structure, a collectivization of all subjects human knowledge into 28 volumes, was revolutionary. Diderot was not the first to publish in such a format, but his Encyclopédie became the most well-circulated and read. To ensure that he would reach a broader audience, Diderot wrote in French, which was known as the language of the common people, instead of the usual Latin. Additionally, the Anatomie section of the book was one of the first medical images available to people. Because of this effort, the Encyclopédie was banned initially by the Catholic Church in an attempt to suppress the sharing of academic knowledge.
The internet provides a parallel to printed encyclopedias today, giving common users greater access to a wide variety of topics. Therefore, our group will create a website that appeals to high school and college students interested in access to public health knowledge throughout the ages. The information will be in short blog post format to best interest the audience. Additionally, users will be able to suggest topics for future posts as well as write their own that will be reviewed and then hopefully published on our blog. This will ensure the creation of a community of users that is able to interact with and learn from one another.
The age of the Internet comes with many benefits, but a serious negative is that access to too much information can confuse searchers. This is especially prevalent today with the advent of websites such as Wikipedia or, in the medical field specifically, WebMD. The blog would provide a source of accurate information about a concentrated topic.
Our website will focus on the access that people have had to public health information over time. We will divide our areas of focus into three categories of time: before Diderot’s time (pre-18th century), Diderot’s time, and post-Diderot’s time/today. We have already begun the process of finding articles and books through the Fondren library and its online resources. We hope to teach the evolution of the public’s access to health information while at the same time adding to the conversation by making this information easily accessible.