Bush: “As We May Think”

Bush, Vannevar. “As We May Think.” The Atlantic Monthly 176.1 (1945): 101-108. Web. 5 Oct. 2010.

 


 

What should the scientists do now that the war is over?

 

Need to be able to access/find information, especially because of all the new research/data available. Inadequacy of transmission and storage of information.

 

Interesting visions of what actually has come to pass-- with tiny powerful cameras, etc.

 

Explains the potential process of creating, compressing, etc. data

 

foresees magnetic strips on credit cards

 

"selection by association"-- more like human mind instead of indexing.

 

"The owner of the memex, let us say, is interested in the origin and properties of the bow and arrow. Specifically he is studying why the short Turkish bow was apparently superior to the English long bow in the skirmishes of the Crusades. He has dozens of possibly pertinent books and articles in his memex. First he runs through an encyclopedia, finds an interesting but sketchy article, leaves it projected. Next, in a history, he finds another pertinent item, and ties the two together. Thus he goes, building a trail of many items. Occasionally he inserts a comment of his own, either linking it into the main trail or joining it by a side trail to a particular item. When it becomes evident that the elastic properties of available materials had a great deal to do with the bow, he branches off on a side trail which takes him through textbooks on elasticity and tables of physical constants. He inserts a page of longhand analysis of his own. Thus he builds a trail of his interest through the maze of materials available to him."

 

Bush predicts the interactivity of the web as enabled by storage and associative access; foresees hyperlinking of a sort.

 

"Thus science may implement the ways in which man produces, stores, and consults the record of the race. It might be striking to outline the instrumentalities of the future more spectacularly, rather than to stick closely to methods and elements now known and undergoing rapid development, as has been done here. Technical difficulties of all sorts have been ignored, certainly, but also ignored are means as yet unknown which may come any day to accelerate technical progress as violently as did the advent of the thermionic tube. In order that the picture may not be too commonplace, by reason of sticking to present-day patterns, it may be well to mention one such possibility, not to prophesy but merely to suggest, for prophecy based on extension of the known has substance, while prophecy founded on the unknown is only a doubly involved guess.

All our steps in creating or absorbing material of the record proceed through one of the senses—the tactile when we touch keys, the oral when we speak or listen, the visual when we read. Is it not possible that some day the path may be established more directly?"