From Memex to Hypertext

tags: web, tech-history

This is really a collection of writings, published elsewhere, about Vannevar Bush’s seminal 1945 essay “How We May Think,” and the idea of the Memex which he proposed. I suspect everyone who reads this book will enjoy it, because you have to be pretty interested in Bush to even want to read this. It isn’t a book you pick up casually.

I enjoyed the deep dive into the ideas of the Memex and “memory trails.” The dissection of this concept is really a dissection of human thought itself, and of the ways in which traditional methods of record keeping have failed us. Somewhere in the middle of the book, a writing says that we “think in hypertext.” And then you consider that, serial mediums like the book seem pretty opposed to how we process information as humans.

As the title would indicate, the book pays emphasis – especially in the end – to the idea that hypertext is the real-word manifestation of what Bush was proposing in the first place. There are several essays discussion the apparently influential Hypertext ‘87 conference, and I enjoyed some analysis of the state of technology in the early 90s as writers tried to determine if we had enough hardware advancement to realize Bush’s vision.

The bottom line is that if you enjoyed “As We May Think” but want to take it a bit further, this book is likely exactly what you’re looking for.

Book Info