"As we may think." Contained in: The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. CLXXVI, No. 1, July 1945 [pp. 101-8].

BUSH, Vannevar (1890-1974).

Published by Atlantic Monthly Co., 1945., 1945
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4to. 129 pp. Original maroon & gold printed wrappers; creasing. Very good. FIRST EDITION. In this article, "As we may think", Bush introduced the concept of what he called the memex during the 1930s, which is a microfilm-based "device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory." He wanted the memex to behave like the "intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain"; essentially, causing the proposed device to be similar to the functions of a human brain. The important feature of the memex is that it ties two pieces together. Any item can lead to another immediately. After thinking about the potential of augmented memory for several years, Bush set out his thoughts at length in the essay "As We May Think" in The Atlantic Monthly, which was published July of 1945. In the article, Bush predicted that "Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified." An associative trail as conceived by Bush would be a way to create a new linear sequence of microfilm frames across any arbitrary sequence of microfilm frames by creating a chained sequence of links in the way just described, along with personal comments and side trails. At the time Bush saw the current ways of indexing information as limiting and instead proposed a way to store information that was analogous to the mental association of the human brain: storing information with the capability of easy access at a later time using certain cues (in this case, a series of numbers as a code to retrieve data). The closest analogy with the modern Web browser would be to create a list of bookmarks to articles relevant to a topic, and then to have some mechanism for automatically scrolling through the articles (for example, use Google to search for a keyword, obtain a list of matches, and then use "open in new tab" in your browser and visit each tab sequentially). Modern hypertext systems with word and phrase-level linking offer more sophistication in connecting relevant information, but until the rise of wiki and other social software models, modern hypertext systems have rarely imitated Bush in providing individuals with the ability to create personal trails and share them with colleagues - or publish them widely. [Wikip.]. Vannevar Bush was an American engineer and science administrator known for his work on analog computing, his political role in the development of the atomic bomb as a primary organizer of the Manhattan Project, and the idea of the memex, an adjustable microfilm-viewer which is somewhat analogous to the structure of the World Wide Web. As Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, Bush coordinated the activities of some six thousand leading American scientists in the application of science to warfare. This half-year of The Atlantic Monthly covers the period of the end of World War II. In addition to many war-related articles (chief of which is Einstein on the atomic bomb), there are two chapters of Betty MacDonald's The egg and I, and Gannett's article, John Steinbeck: Novelist at work. Norman, Origins of cyberspace 519. Bookseller Inventory #

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Title: "As we may think." Contained in: The ...
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Co., 1945.
Publication Date: 1945

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