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Abstract[edit | edit source]
Vannevar Bush's famous paper "As We May Think" (1945) described an imaginary information retrieval machine, the Memex. The Memex is usually viewed, unhistorically, in relation to subsequent developments using digital computers. This paper attempts to reconstruct the little-known background of information retrieval in and before 1939 when "As We May Think" was originally written. The Memex was based on Bush's work during 1938-1940 developing an improved photoelectric microfilm selector, an electronic retrieval technology pioneered by Emanuel Goldberg of Zeiss Ikon, Dresden, in the 1920s. Visionary statements by Paul Otlet (1934) and Walter Schuermeyer (1935) and the development of electronic document retrieval technology before Bush are examined.
Excerpts[edit | edit source]
- Visionary statements by Paul Otlet (1934) and Walter Schuermeyer (1935) and the development of electronic document retrieval technology before Bush are examined.
- Neumann complained that Vannevar Bush's account of the Rapid Selector in Life did not mention Goldberg "the true inventor, who had actually built and demonstrated such a machine years before." (Neumann, 1957, v).
- Fairthorne (1958) ... was critical of Bush's ideas, commented that "few of his suggestions were original," and also mentioned Goldberg's prior work.
- As Fairthorne observed, Bush's paper was timely and "opened people's eyes and purses."
- Can we draw any conclusions concerning the sociology or scholarship of information science from the striking contrast between the constant acclaim of Bush and the continuing comparative oblivion of Goldberg?
Wikimedia[edit | edit source]
- Otlet's writings have sometimes been called prescient of the current World Wide Web. His vision of a great network of knowledge was centered on documents and included the notions of hyperlinks, search engines, remote access, and social networks -- although these notions were described by different names.
- As We May Think predicted (to some extent) many kinds of technology invented after its publication, including hypertext, personal computers, the Internet, the World Wide Web, speech recognition, and online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia: "Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready-made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified." @ w: As We May Think
- In 1936, before the Royal Institution, Wells called for the compilation of a constantly growing and changing World Encyclopedia, to be reviewed by outstanding authorities and made accessible to every human being. In 1938, he published a collection of essays on the future organisation of knowledge and education, World Brain, including the essay, "The Idea of a Permanent World Encyclopaedia."
- q: World Brain#Danny P. Wallace (2007)
- "World Brain = World Wide Web" (essay title)
- q: World Brain#W. Boyd Rayward (2008) cf. 1975/Rayward
- "The march of the modern and the reconstitution of the world's knowledge apparatus: H.G. Wells, encyclopedism, and the world brain" (essay title)
Chronology[edit | edit source]
- Buckland, Michael (1992). "Emanuel Goldberg, Electronic Document Retrieval, and Vannevar Bush's Memex." Journal of the American Society for Information Science, vol. 43, no. 4 (May 1992), pp. 284-294. [^]
- Literature/1981/Smith [^]
- Literature/1980/Tomasch [^]
- Rayward, W. Boyd (1975). The Universe of Information: The Work of Paul Otlet for Documentation and International Organisation. (FID 520). Moscow: VINITI (for FID). [^]
- Literature/1968/Stevens [^]
- Literature/1964/Alexander [^]
- Literature/1962/Pike [^]
- Literature/1961/Bagg [^]
- Literature/1958/Fairthorne [^]
- Literature/1958/Luhn [^]
- Literature/1958/Ohlman [^]
- McCarthy, John; Marvin Minsky; Nathan Rochester & Claude Shannon (1955). A Proposal for the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence. [^]
- Literature/1949/Berkeley [^]
- Shaw, Ralph R. (1949). "Machines and the Bibliographical Problems of the Twentieth Century." (pp. 37-71) In: L. N. Ridenour, et al. Bibliography in an Age of Science. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. [^]
- Shannon, Claude E. & Warren Weaver (1949). The Mathematical Theory of Communication. University of Illinois Press. [^]
- Wiener, Norbert (1948). Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. 2nd ed., The MIT Press, 1965. [^]
- Bush, Vannevar (1945). "As We May Think." The Atlantic Monthly (July 1945): 101-108. [^]
- Literature/1942/Morse [^]
- Literature/1939/Bush [^]
- Literature/1939/Borges [^]
- Bernal, J. D. (1939). The Social Function of Science. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd. [^]
- Literature/1938/Bryce [^]
- Literature/1938/Tate [^]
- Literature/1938/Townsend [^]
- Wells, H. G. (1938). World Brain. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co. [^]
- Literature/1937/Schuermeyer [^]
- Wells, H. G. (1936). World Encyclopaedia. Lecture delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, November 20th, 1936. [^]
- Literature/1935/Davis [^]
- Literature/1934/Otlet [^]
- Literature/1933/Keegstra [^]
- Literature/1933/Schuermeyer [^]
- Literature/1932/Sebille [^]
- Goldberg, Emanuel (1932). "Methods of Photographic Registration." British Journal of Photography, 79: 533-534. [^]
- Goldberg, Emanuel (1931). Statistical Machine. U.S. patent 1,838,389. Dec. 29, 1931. [^]
Reviews[edit | edit source]
Comments[edit | edit source]
- Tall librarians may be fully inspired only by Otlet (1934) Traité de Documentation without reading it, while digitall librarians may be so inspired only by Bush (1945) without respecting it. Nevertheless, both parties indeed, including Otlet and Bush themselves, may have been so inspired only by Wells (1938) only without acknowledging it. Such may be the behavior of academic pseudoscientific paradigms in Kuhn's (1962) sense. -- KYPark [T] 09:35, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
- The author is making such a point that Bush is posterior to Goldberg technologically and to Otlet ideologically, suggesting his likely academic misconduct by making reference to neither. Then the author should better have added Wells (1938) as another likely, if not more likely, powerful source of inspiration. His doing no good to Wells may be doing no good to his authority, which Wells took so seriously for successful World Encyclopedia, and which Wikipedia may suffer. Perhaps no authority without avoiding invested interests, say, tall or digitall librarianship. -- KYPark [T] 09:35, 7 July 2011 (UTC)