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The BackdropWWII – Partially, A Scientist’s War
“As We May Think” July 1945 Seminal article in the history of computing Introduces the memex
Information Overload“There is a growing mountain of research.But there is increased evidence that we arebeing bogged down today as specializationextends. The investigator is staggered bythe findings and conclusions of thousandsof other workers— conclusions which hecannot find time to grasp, much less toremember, as they appear...” (1945)“The difficulty seems to be…thatpublication has been extended far beyondour present ability to make real use of therecord.” (1945)“We are being buried in our own product.Tons of printed material are dumped outevery week. Many [ideas] become lost;many others are repeated over and over.”(1967)
The Memex“Consider a future device for individualuse, which is a sort of mechanized privatefile and library…A memex is a device in which an individualstores all his books, records, andcommunications, and which is mechanizedso that it may be consulted with exceedingspeed and flexibility. It is an enlargedintimate supplement to his memory.” Source: As We May Think, Vannevar Bush, 1945
How Much Information?“…if the user inserted 5000 pages of material a day itwould take him hundreds of years to fill therepository, so that he can be profligate and entermaterial freely” Source: Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think”, 1945
The Memex – Dissected Touch sensitive screens for displaying information and adding annotationsScanner and touch sensitive screen Current „trail number‟ display Stylus „keypad‟ for enteringNavigation switch trail codes Memory storage microfilm, magnetic tape
What Happened to the Memex? Bush „upgrades‟ the memex in 1959 and 1967 Magnetic tape replaces microfilm Proposed that crystals will replace magnetic tape Still analog Was never built
Analyzing The Memex Why wasn‟t it ever built? What was its impact on future developments? Why is it important?
Why Wasn’t The Memex Ever Built? According to Bush: It would have been „enormously expensive‟ to build It was an idea before its time Creating associations between was not well understood Public didn‟t understand the value of the project Others: Device was too ambiguous; no good definition No practical way to create associations Associations aren‟t the best way to link information Technologies were not ripe for use; e.g. info retrieval Sources: Bush, V., Memex Revisited, 1959, and Memex II, 1967.
Or Was It? Microsoft MyLifeBits Import files GPS import & MyLifeBits Map display Shell VIBE Text logging SenseCam annotation tool Voice annotation Screen saver tool MyLifeBits Internet store BrowserRadio toolcapture Legacy& EPG applications database IM capture files MAPI interfacePocketPCtransfertool Outlook TV capture interface tool Legacy Telephone email client PocketRadio capture tool player TV EPG download tool
Did the Memex Impact FutureDevelopments? # of articles/books that mention ‘memex’ meaningfully 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 Source: Smith, Linda C. “Memex as an Image of Potentiality in Information Retrieval Research and Development, SIGIR 80: Proceedings of the 3rd annual ACM conference on Research and development in
Did the Memex Impact FutureDevelopments? Hypertext / world-wide web Personal information systems Modern computer interface Speech recognition technologies Computer memory storage Machine-readable records Information science
Memex and Hypertext/WebInnovation Memex Hypertext / WebRelationship between association associationconnectionsIdeas connected by… Web of trails Hyperlinks, tagsIdeas are… personal Shared/publicRelationships are... Created and consumed Mostly consumedRelationships are… Bi-directional Uni-directionalRetrieval mechanism Identify trail and then Click search trail sequentiallyModel for memory Human brain Human brainassociation
Is this the Memex? = ? Veith, Richard H. , “Memex at 60: Internet or iPod?”, JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR INFORMATION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, 57(9):1233–1242, 2006
Why Was The Memex Important? Provided a method for dealing with information overload Presents a novel approach to organizing personal information Remembered as the technological vision of hypertext Suggests fascinating possibilities for human- machine symbiosis. Derivative inventions represent an opportunity to study the co-evolution of human practices and technological tools