07. 21. 2005
As We May Think
Sixty years ago Vannevar Bush's famous article "As We May Think," appeared in the July issue of The Atlantic Monthly. Many websites have remembered this anniversary this past week (gizmag, Slashdot) and I thought I'd keep spreading the meme, because Vannevar Bush's original article is a must-read for everyone interested in today's technology.
Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and to coin one at random, "memex'' will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory. It consists of a desk, and while it can presumably be operated from a distance, it is primarily the piece of furniture at which he works. On the top are slanting translucent screens, on which material can be projected for convenient reading. There is a keyboard, and sets of buttons and levers. Otherwise it looks like an ordinary desk.
It affords an immediate step, however, to associative indexing, the basic idea of which is a provision whereby any item may be caused at will to select immediatelyand automatically another. This is the essential feature of the memex. The process of tying two items together is the important thing.