15 Matching Annotations
  1. Oct 2020
    1. He highlights the Memex’s killer feature of associative linking and how trails of links have never been implemented in the way the Memex envisioned: It is associative indexing though, that is the essential feature of the memex, “the process of tying two items together is the important thing.” Bush describes a hypertext like mechanism at this point, but most interesting from my perspective is his emphasis on a trail as a fundamental unit — something we largely seem to have lost today. […] Documents and links we have aplenty. But where are our trails?
    1. Your machine is a library not a publication device. You have copies of documents is there that you control directly, that you can annotate, change, add links to, summarize, and this is because the memex is a tool to think with, not a tool to publish with.

      I can't help but think about Raymond Lull's combinatorial rings which he used as a thinking tool. Or Giordano Bruno's revision of Lull's tools as described in De Umbris Idearum. Given their knowledge of the art of memory stemming from rhetoric in combination with his combinatorial tool, he was essentially sitting on top of an early form of a memex.

      I also can't help but think about Kicks Condor's Fraidyc.at reader tool that pulls in wiki content from TiddlyWikis and which have the potential to also make wikis publishing tools as well.

  2. Sep 2020
    1. The trend had turned in the direction of digital machines, a whole new generation had taken hold. If I mixed with it, I could not possibly catch up with new techniques, and I did not intend to look foolish.  [Bush 1970, 208]

      One needs courage to endure looking foolish.

    2. While the pioneers of digital computing understood that machines would soon accelerate human capabilities by doing massive calculations, Bush continued to be occupied with extending, through replication, human mental experience.  [Nyce 1991, 124]

      Ironic that adaptation was part of the memex and yet it did not adapt to the emerging field of digital computing.

    3. In all versions of the Memex essay, the machine was to serve as a personal memory support. It was not a public database in the sense of the modern Internet: it was first and foremost a private device. It provided for each person to add their own marginal notes and comments, recording reactions to and trails from others' texts, and adding selected information and the trails of others by “dropping” them into their archive via an electro-optical scanning device. In the later adaptive Memex, these trails fade out if not used, and “if much in use, the trails become emphasized”  [Bush 1970, 191] as the web adjusts its shape mechanically to the thoughts of the individual who uses it.

      A personal memex must first and foremost be personal. No cloud based system can claim to be a memex because it loses the personal / private aspect.

    4. So Memex was first and foremost an extension of human memory and the associative movements that the mind makes through information: a mechanical analogue to an already mechanical model of memory. Bush transferred this idea into information management; Memex was distinct from traditional forms of indexing not so much in its mechanism or content, but in the way it organised information based on association. The design did not spring from the ether, however; the first Memex design incorporates the technical architecture of the Rapid Selector and the methodology of the Analyzer — the machines Bush was assembling at the time.

      How much further would Bush have gone if he had known about graph theory? He is describing a graph database with nodes and edges and a graphical model itself is the key to the memex.

    5. Solutions were suggested (among them slowing down the machine, and checking abstracts before they were used) [Burke 1991, 154], but none of these were particularly effective, and a working machine wasn’t ready until the fall of 1943. At one stage, because of an emergency problem with Japanese codes, it was rushed to Washington — but because it was so unreliable, it went straight back into storage. So many parts were pulled out that the machine was never again operable [Burke 1991, 158]. In 1998, the Selector made Bruce Sterling’s Dead Media List, consigned forever to a lineage of failed technologies. Microfilm did not behave the way Bush and his team wanted it to. It had its own material limits, and these didn’t support speed of access.

      People often get stuck on specific implementation details that are specific to their time, place, and context. Why didn't Bush consider other storage mechanisms?

    6. In engineering science, there is an emphasis on working prototypes or “deliverables”. As Professor of Computer Science Andries van Dam put it in an interview with the author, when engineers talk about work, they mean “work in the sense of machines, software, algorithms, things that are concrete ”  [Van Dam 1999]. This emphasis on concrete work was the same in Bush’s time. Bush had delivered something which had been previously only been dreamed about; this meant that others could come to the laboratory and learn by observing the machine, by watching it integrate, by imagining other applications. A working prototype is different to a dream or white paper — it actually creates its own milieu, it teaches those who use it about the possibilities it contains and its material technical limits. Bush himself recognised this, and believed that those who used the machine acquired what he called a “mechanical calculus”, an internalised knowledge of the machine. When the army wanted to build their own machine at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, he sent them a mechanic who had helped construct the Analyzer. The army wanted to pay the man machinist’s wages; Bush insisted he be hired as a consultant [Owens 1991, 24]. I never consciously taught this man any part of the subject of differential equations; but in building that machine, managing it, he learned what differential equations were himself … [it] was interesting to discuss the subject with him because he had learned the calculus in mechanical terms — a strange approach, and yet he understood it. That is, he did not understand it in any formal sense, he understood the fundamentals; he had it under his skin.  (Bush 1970, 262 cited in Owens 1991, 24)

      Learning is an act of creation. To understand something we must create mental and physical constructions. This is a creative process.

  3. Mar 2019
    1. Engelbart insisted that effective intellectual augmentation was always realized within a system, and that any intervention intended to accelerate intellectual augmentation must be understood as an intervention in a system. And while at many points the 1962 report emphasizes the individual knowledge worker, there is also the idea of sharing the context of one’s work (an idea Vannevar Bush had also described in “As We May Think”), the foundation of Engelbart’s lifelong view that a crucial way to accelerate intellectual augmentation was to think together more comprehensively and effectively. One might even rewrite Engelbart’s words above to say, “We do not speak of isolated clever individuals with knowledge of particular domains. We refer to a way of life in an integrated society where poets, musicians, dreamers, and visionaries usefully co-exist with engineers, scientists, executives, and governmental leaders.” Make your own list.
  4. Feb 2019
  5. Dec 2018
    1. Any given book_ of his library /_and presumably other textual material, such as notes/ can thus be called up and consulted with far greater facility than if it were taken from a shelf

      This passage in Vannevar Bush's "As We May Think" may be the first mention of what we now think of as digital annotation. The passage in the original article is slighly different... you can see it here.

  6. Sep 2018
    1. I’m going to assume most people in the room here have read Vannevar Bush’s 1945 essay As We May Think. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to.

      I seem to run across references to this every couple of months. Interestingly it is never in relation to information theory or Claude Shannon references which I somehow what I most closely relate it to.

  7. Apr 2018
    1. Most scholars of hypertext of the time pointed to Vannevar Bush's 1945 article "As We May Think" as an important precursor to the Web and as providing important guidance for necessary development. Bush's model of hypertext was much richer than that of the early Web. Among other things, he envisioned people who would put together articles (or "trails") by finding a sequence of useful pages in different sources, annotating those pages, inserting a few pages of their own, and linking it all together. While the Web had "live links", those links were limited to the original authors of the text, so The Web provided essentially none of the features necessary for Bush's more collaborative model.

      Great summary.

  8. Jun 2016
    1. produce schema-aware writing tools that everyone can use to add new documents to a nascent semantic web

      That dream does live on. Since Vannevar’s 1945 article on the Memex, we’ve been dreaming of such tools. Our current tools are quite far from that dream.

  9. Oct 2013