When I first read Vannevar Bush’s paper, As We May Think, the first thing I noticed was that it was written in 1945, 65 years ago. In his paper, he described technological and scientific advances at the time, making sure to pepper the pages with questions about the future. What is interesting about these inquiries is that, for the most part, many of them have been fulfilled to some degree. Bush’s depiction of the future of photography has come true and in a sense, there is potential for a memex in the making. I wonder if Bush, himself, foresaw all of this. It wouldn’t be surprising to find out that, indeed, Bush was writing this in preparation of the technological advances that would simplify and assist the human race.
Perhaps, even, it wasn’t technology that inspired Bush to write his paper, but Bush that inspired technology to grow in such a way that came to match Bush’s expectations and predictions. There is a sociological phenomenon called the ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ in which a prediction directly or indirectly causes itself to come true. Perhaps Bush and his memex is a self-fulfilling prophecy of the future. Being such an influential man as he is, it wouldn’t be surprising if this were the case.
One other thing I would like to bring up is the paradox of the purpose for files. As said in class by Professor Chun, files have not only become a way to organize our life, but also a way to forget it. Since files are omnipresent, and if there is such a library like Bush’s memex, then perhaps, in the near future, there may not be a need to remember. We may simply have to tap a few buttons and our week’s agenda, our month’s agenda, maybe even our life’s agenda would pop up. Of course, this is the stuff of science fiction, but sci-fi is oftentimes social commentary, so this thought cannot be ignored.