RE: Significance of "As We May Think"

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Tue May 21 2002 - 12:44:10 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Significance of "As We May Think"
    Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 12:44:10 +0100
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    Nicely timed, I've been reading some stuff on the origins of the internet
    (for an undergraduate unit in new media I'll be teaching in the new year).
    Oh, and yeah, I find this stuff fascinating too!

    Part of the problem lies in the large number of people, over a long period
    of time being involved in the conceptual and operational stages of
    developing the internet.

    From what I've read so far, Bush's stuff is incredibly important from the
    conceptual point of view. (BTW I'd particularly recommend John Naughton's
    'A Brief History of the Future' (1999, Phoenix) which is very readable).
    Part of the reason Bush is important is that unlike, say Arthur C Clarke
    (who was the first to write down the idea of the satellite but as a sci-fi
    writer couldn't do much about the idea), Bush was a major player- science
    advisor to Roosevelt, and at the same time in overall charge of_all_ US
    science research during the war. So when he had an idea, people tended to
    pay attention.

    Other candidates for the most important person in the development of the
    internet would include Paul Baran, who did a lot of the core problem-solving
    in the development of the Arpanet, and more recently Tim Berners-Lee,
    developer of the WWW, but Vannevar Bush is definitely important, and extract
    seems to get it about right.


    > ----------
    > From: Wade T.Smith
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Monday, May 20, 2002 12:53 PM
    > To: Memetics Listserv
    > Subject: Fwd: Significance of "As We May Think"
    > I forward this request to this forum on behalf of Paul-
    > - Wade
    > ****
    > Begin forwarded message:
    > From: Paul W Harrison / interEnglish <>
    > Date: Mon May 20, 2002 07:39:44 US/Eastern
    > To:
    > Subject: Significance of "As We May Think"
    > '....In 1945, the same year that Vannevar Bush outlined his ideas for
    > what
    > became the National Science Foundation in Science-the Endless Frontier,
    > he
    > also wrote an article in the Atlantic Monthly that described his vision
    > for
    > capturing and accessing information ["As We May Think"]. In the Atlantic
    > article, Bush proposed the development of a kind of work station, which
    > he
    > called a "memex," that would store and provide access to the equivalent
    > of a
    > million volumes of books. The memex would also employ a way of linking
    > documents "whereby any item may be caused at will to select immediately
    > and
    > automatically another"-allowing the user to build a trail between
    > multiple
    > documents. Although Bush proposed using photographic methods for storage
    > and
    > mechanical means for retrieval, and the exact technological capability he
    > dreamed of has not yet come to pass, the proposed function of his memex
    > is
    > remarkably similar to hypertext today...."
    > Is anyone on the list familiar with Vannevar Bush, this article and its
    > significance in introducing the kernel of the "hypertext" system so
    > overwhelmingly in use today? Is his contribution indisputably of value?
    > The
    > reason why I ask is due to skeptical reservations brought up in an
    > article I
    > am currently proofreading for a university client.
    > This sort of pioneering stuff in regard to the development of computers
    > and
    > what later became the Internet is really fascinating (at least to me!).
    > Sender:
    > Paul W Harrison, TESL
    > interEnglish (Finland)
    > <>
    > ===============================================================
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