Response: As We May Think – Vannevar Bush

Mind-warpingly amazing.

Touching on many currently available technologies such as the camera, voice recorder/playback, video,calculator, etc., the most impressive description is that of the “Memex” and how accurately he describes the process of a search engine. The fact that in 1945 Bush described certain technologies that only within the last few years have become universally used – windows and tabbed browsing, histories, bookmarking, tagging, suggestions, wikis, and blogging – is unbelievable.

His initial argument is also interesting, in that he argues for the scientific exploration and production of these new recording technologies as necessary. With the abundance of press and record loomed the possibility that the proper information might “become lost in the mass of the inconsequential.” It’s of course necessary to point out that, historically, war has always been a catalyst for new scientific innovation, and this was written at the end of World War II.

One last bit of information that I almost overlooked was his mention of universal language. The creation of a universal language could mean leaps and bounds forward for the sharing and aggregating of good and necessary information. Translators can only begin to do part of the work, as his argument was for a universal language in recording information. HTML and XML do this to a certain extent – but formatting can only go so far.


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