November 22, 2005

As We May Think

The hidden manifesto behind the scenes of all the major information movements of the past years (wikipedia, google's digital library, and apparently Squid Labs)

There is this tremendous essay by Vannaver Bush. Published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1945, it's difficult the understate the essay's importance. Bush essentially outlines many of the functions of today's PC with suprising accuracy. Bush bases his "Memex" around extra tiny microfilm. It is especially noted as being one of the first documents theorizing of a hypertext system. At one point he nearly perfectly describes a typical web forum. One about Turkish longbows... Bush's connections between politics and computing were revolutionary . Bush imagined information design as a factor for succesful democracy. For this alone, the man is an icon.

To me, the great thing about an essay like this is the way it poses the question... Can we simply look at the world like a scale and predict a logical progression? Or is it that because Bush imagined these things we found ways to engineer them. It makes for a great case point for such a fundamental question.


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