Wednesday, February 10, 2010

As We May Think Response

“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.” I was amazed at how similar this sounds to Wikipedia, especially the part in which a person “inserts a page of longhand analysis of his own.” It is this network of information that the owner of memex has access to that is extremely similar to the internet and its capabilities. It appears Bush believes that the sharing of information through the memex is a community of users that build each others’ experiences when inputting personal analysis and information. This really does not feel too different from what we have now. Obviously Bush would not have perfectly predicted the aesthetics of current technology, but the general concept still exists. I like how he refers to these connections of information as “trails” in which data and sources can be “linked into the more general trail.”

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