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Thoughts On Vannevar Bush

Last week, the NYT ran a lengthy article by Kevin Kelly, "Scan This Book." By now, I'm sure everyone has read it…especially since all week it was on the The New York Times' most emailed  list.  Anyway, one of the commenters in the forum, the Ambivalent Librarian asked "Finally, why didn't Kelly mention "As We May Think"  by Vannevar Bush. If you've never read it, Google it. It's a wonderful article."  Well, I took his/her advice and read it.

Bush's essay, which was written in The Atlantic Monthly in July of 1945 provides some insights as to today's technological advancements, while encouraging the post war scientists to "make(ing) more accessible our bewildering store of knowledge." (The Editor)  Bush elaborates on the ingenious invention, The Voder (Vocoder) (Developed by Homer Dudley) and among other technological ideas, he writes on the advancement of books,  here's a brief slice from his essay, "A special button transfers him immediately to the first page of the index. Any given book of his library can thus be called up and consulted with far greater facility than if it were taken from a shelf. As he has several projection positions, he can leave one item in position while he calls up another. He can add marginal notes and comments, taking advantage of one possible type of dry photography, and it could even be arranged so that he can do this by a stylus scheme, such as is now employed in the telautograph seen in railroad waiting rooms, just as though he had the physical page before him."

After you read "As We May Think", it will definitely, get you thinking; even if you have to read it several times, like I did.

-Amy Bowllan

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