Vannsvar Bush's Memex Vision

All this is conventional, except for the projection forward of present-day mechanisms and gadgetry. 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 immediately and automatically another. This is the essential feature of the memex. The process of tying two items together is the important thing.

When the user is building a trail, he names it, inserts the name in his code book, and taps it out on his keyboard. Before him are the two items to be joined, projected onto adjacent viewing positions. At the bottom of each there are a number of blank code spaces, and a pointer is set to indicate one of these on each item. The user taps a single key, and the items are permanently joined. In each code space appears the code word. Out of view, but also in the code space, is inserted a set of dots for photocell viewing; and on each item these dots by their positions designate the index number of the other item.

Thereafter, at any time, when one of these items is in view, the other can be instantly recalled merely by tapping a button below the corresponding code space. Moreover, when numerous items have been thus joined together to form a trail, they can be reviewed in turn, rapidly or slowly, by deflecting a lever like that used for turning the pages of a book. It is exactly as though the physical items had been gathered together from widely separated sources and bound together to form a new book. It is more than this, for any item can be joined into numerous trails.

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.

And his trails do not fade. Several years later, his talk with a friend turns to the queer ways in which a people resist innovations, even of vital interest. He has an example, in the fact that the outraged Europeans still failed to adopt the Turkish bow. In fact he has a trail on it. A touch brings up the code book. Tapping a few keys projects the head of the trail. A lever runs through it at will, stopping at interesting items, going off on side excursions. It is an interesting trail, pertinent to the discussion. So he sets a reproducer in action, photographs the whole trail out, and passes it to his friend for insertion in his own memex, there to be linked into the more general trail.


What makes the memex different from other tools is its ability to link memes together and forge "paths" through knowledge.

/art and entertainment/books and literature (0.553019)
/sports/skiing/nordic skiing (0.438747)
/science/social science/history (0.373246)

code space (0.939478 (neutral:0.000000)), trail (0.832735 (positive:0.291181)), English long bow (0.809635 (negative:-0.630119)), Turkish bow (0.808627 (negative:-0.568890)), short Turkish bow (0.804172 (negative:-0.630119)), blank code spaces (0.793092 (negative:-0.302183)), adjacent viewing positions (0.788113 (negative:-0.413941)), possibly pertinent books (0.785359 (neutral:0.000000)), corresponding code space (0.782430 (neutral:0.000000)), items (0.777022 (positive:0.530272)), code book (0.758487 (positive:0.628205)), memex (0.755715 (positive:0.613608)), item (0.748892 (positive:0.395569)), pertinent item (0.678614 (positive:0.458840)), particular item (0.649136 (neutral:0.000000)), associative indexing (0.638491 (neutral:0.000000)), present-day mechanisms (0.638451 (neutral:0.000000)), important thing. (0.634228 (positive:0.456403)), essential feature (0.633671 (positive:0.834013)), immediate step (0.632545 (positive:0.425314)), basic idea (0.628949 (neutral:0.000000)), code word (0.619675 (neutral:0.000000)), single key (0.617143 (neutral:0.000000)), main trail (0.616307 (neutral:0.000000)), longhand analysis (0.616059 (neutral:0.000000)), interesting trail (0.614965 (positive:0.614085)), sketchy article (0.613987 (negative:-0.480919)), numerous items (0.612531 (neutral:0.000000)), physical items (0.610467 (positive:0.560054)), numerous trails. (0.605852 (neutral:0.000000))

Bow (0.938227): dbpedia | opencyc | yago
Archery (0.902334): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Longbow (0.889925): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 As We May Think
Periodicals>Magazine Article:  Bush, Vannevar (July 1945), As We May Think, Atlantic Monthly, 176(1):101-108, Retrieved on -0001-11-30
Folksonomies: new media memex information technology


15 MAY 2011

 MemexPlex as New Media

This is a survey of New Media memes throughout history, with comments on each in how it relates to MemexPlex.