Reading: As We May Think
In this article published in 1945, author Vannevar Bush predicts many kinds of technology invented during the following decades like personal computers and the Internet, and he also raises a problem that is very relevant even in these days: He expresses the desire to change the direction of science, in order to encourage knowledge and understanding of information.
I think it is important to keep in mind that the article was written during ending of World War 2. By that time there were a lot of communication technologies being developed, like the telephone, the photograph and the newspaper, but the flow of information was very slow and restricted. On the other hand, there was also a big technological development oriented to death and destruction.
For Bush, it was important to develop machines that could aid communication, trying to find ways to unite and categorize human knowledge to make it more accessible to people. He used his concept of the Memex as an example of a machine that could organize information through association and selection, speeding up the process of organizing information to deliver it to the people.
The Internet is a great extensión to Bush’s ideas. Today we have more access to information and freedom of expression than ever before. But the problem is how to make sense of all this growing amount of data, and how to organize it and deliver it to those who need it. We must be aware of the power of information and communication and the importance of gathering, filtering and sharing it through communities.
“There may be millions of fine thoughts, and the account of the experience on which they are based, all encased within stone walls of acceptable architectural form; but if the scholar can get at only one a week by diligent search, his synthesis are not likely to keep up with the current scene.”