Saturday, January 26, 2008

As You May Think

I recently read Vannevar Bush's speculative classic article "As You May Think" published in 1945 when the bitter WWII finally ended. Bush always had this vision "to grow in the wisdom of race experience, rather than perishing in conflict". The article beautifully put his vision into words.

Having considered the plight of a researcher deluged with inaccessible information, he proposed the memex, a machine to rapidly access, and allow random links between, pieces of information. The idea was to link books and films and automatically follow cross-references from one work to another. Doesn't it sound familiar with what Tim Berners-Lee invented in 1989? Although the way how Bush viewed hyper-links quite different from what we have today, I am sure it must have surely inspired the concept of WWW and hyper-links. He went on to talk about sharing information with colleagues and wide publication of information; the whole point of web 2.0. (His ideas on how to achieve his thoughts may not be perfect considering the technological advances we had since he put forward these ideas. However, we must admit that his thinking was something similar to many famous speculations in science and technology from computation to communication).

Here's the link to the complete article published in Atlantic Monthly.

No comments: