Sunday, October 4, 2009

As we may think

I am taking a PhD level course at my institution this year, called "Fragments". I've just started on the first reading list, and am happy to see that it has some historical texts included. The first one I've read is Vannevar Bush's "As We May Think" (Atlantic Monthly 1945).

"As We May Think" is a fascinating article, trying to figure out how technology may in future (as seen from the point of view of 1945) may help in the organisation of knowledge. The direction described is often very recognizable, even though Mr. Bush was obviously limited by the technologies he had knowledge of.

Particularly interesting, I think, was the "Memex" machine. This was an idea of an office desk in which was organized not only encyclopaedias and newspapers, but also personal notes, and they were connected in ways which made it possible to find them easily. However, from the point of view of the present "Web 2.0" phase of development, it is interesting to see that the information could be inserted by buying centrally produced information, by inserting your own information or by getting information from someone you knew. The idea of the single person contributing to the mass of knowledge available was not there (except, of course, by contributing to the encyclopaedias or newspapers).

The way in which we can all "instantly" contribute to the information structures was probably almost unthinkable at that time.


  1. Hi Bjorn,

    I like your new blog. Like you said, there is a lot more variety to your posts here than in your math blog. As you may recall, I have linked to your math site from my own math blog (, and I am curious now if you will be continuing to maintain your math site, or will now be focusing your efforts on this new blog and would like for me to direct traffic here? Cheers, and keep up the good work! :)


  2. Hi!

    Sorry for not answering for a month...

    I will not continue maintaining my maths blog - the plan is to just update this one. So any traffic here would be great!