5.0579 Book: From Memex to Hypertext:.. (1/174)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 13 Jan 1992 22:14:54 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0579. Monday, 13 Jan 1992.

Date: Fri, 3 Jan 92 12:43:27 EST
From: pdk@iris.brown.edu (Paul D. Kahn)
Subject: Book Announcement

I wanted to notify HUMANIST readers of the publication of a new
book that should be of interest to many of you. The title is From
Memex to Hypertext: Vannevar Bush and the Mind's Machine, edited
by James M. Nyce and myself and published by Academic Press.
The book should be of interest to people involved in hypertext
and hypermedia research, history of science, and information
science. I attach an excerpt from the Preface and the table of
contents. The cost is $39.95.

Paul Kahn

>From Memex to Hypertext:
Vannevar Bush and the Mind's Machine
Academic Press, 1991


This book focuses on one early and important figure in the
history of computing--Vannevar Bush. Bush's contributions to
engineering, higher education and science are well known.
Bush was also one of the first Americans to design and use
computing machines to solve mathematical and engineering
problems. This book looks at these machines and particularly
at Memex, a machine that was never built. While Memex
was a visionary design, the documents and papers brought
together here show how much Memex reflected the
intellectual currents and the technology of the time. At the
same time in writing about Memex, Bush argued that
computing machines and machine intelligence would come to
have an important place in man's intellectual life.
Much of the story about Memex concerns analogy
computers. While Bush and his contemporaries thought
analog machines had great promise, today this technology
has been for the most part ignored or forgotten. We hope that
through this book readers will gain a better understanding
the place analog machines have in the history of modern
computing. In particular, we hope they will learn, as we
have, something of the transitions and disjunctions that have
characterized this history.

The seed for this book was planted at the 1987 Hypertext
conference at Chapel Hill. The influence of Bush's essay "As
We May Think" on the emerging field of hypertext was
widely acknowledged. The year before Bush had been
discovered by the personal computing world at the first
Microsoft CD ROM conference. However, we were struck by a
discontinuity. People interested in hypertext, electronic
libraries, and information retrieval, the very audience
influenced by Memex, knew little or nothing about Bush as an
engineer and pioneer of computing machines. People who
knew Bush as an engineer and statesman had written little
about Memex. We set out to determine what was known about
Bush's Memex, to better understand the context from which it
emerged, the ideas it represented, and to evaluate the impact
it has had on the computer and information sciences.
The essays in part one take us back to when the greatest
technological innovations in machine calculation were
occurring in the field of analog computing. In the first part of
the book, The Creation of Memex, Larry Owens provides a
history of the several of Bush's analog computers--machines
that set the stage for Memex. Our own essay describes Bush's
speculative writings up through the publication of "As We
May Think" in 1945 and tells the story of how this essay
made its way into print. The balance of part one is three
essays by Bush, ending with a text of "As We May Think"
that shows the variations between the versions published in
the Atlantic and LIFE magazine.

Bush's interest in Memex did not end with the publication
of "As We May Think." The essays in part two show how
Memex faired as digital machines and theory became the
dominant technology. In part two, The Extension of Memex,
our piece describes the essays Bush wrote in which he
extended the Memex design and addressed questions of
machine intelligence. Colin Burke sketches out the history of
the Rapid Selector, a little-known machine whose technology
helped inform the Memex design. "Memex II," in which Bush
revisits the ideas and issues of the first Memex design, is
published here for the first time. The remaining three essays,
Bush's last published work about Memex, are taken from his
collection of essays, Science Is Not Enough, and his
autobiography, Pieces of the Action.

Part three looks at the influence Bush's ideas have had
on modern digital computing, particularly in the area of
hypertext. We begin the third part of the book, The Legacy
of Memex, by reprinting pieces by two pioneers in the field,
Doug Engelbart and Ted Nelson. In their papers, Engelbart
and Nelson discuss the continuity they recognized between
their current work and Bush's ideas. Over a decade ago,
Linda Smith examined through citation analysis the
influence Bush's "As We May Think" has had--here she
updates her research and findings. For many readers, Bush's
essay "As We May Think" and his description of Memex
there prefigures current research in several areas of computer
and information science. The rest of part three traces out the
relationship that exists between Memex and today's research
in workstations, hypertext, and information retrieval. Norm
Meyrowitz, the chief architect of Intermedia, uses Bush's
ideas as a benchmark to assess today's technology and
development efforts. Tim Oren of Apple surveys the current
state of the art in information retrieval research and looks at
how today's ideas relate to what Bush proposed. Randy
Trigg, who helped develop NoteCards at Xerox, compares the
idea of trails in Memex with guided tours and directed paths
in current hypertext systems. Greg Crane, of Harvard's
Perseus Project, looks at the research library, its history and
importance, and relates this to today's projects in hypertext
and information retrieval.

Part 1: The Creation of Memex

Vannevar Bush and the Differential Analyzer:
The Text and Context of an Early Computer
Larry Owens

A Machine for the Mind: Vannevar Bush's Memex
James M. Nyce and Paul Kahn

The Inscrutable 'Thirties
Vannevar Bush

Memorandum Regarding Memex
Vannevar Bush

As We May Think
Vannevar Bush

Part 2: The Extension of Memex

The Idea of a Machine: The Later Memex Essays
Paul Kahn and James M. Nyce

The Rapid Selector: The Machine Without A Purpose
Colin Burke

Memex II
Vannevar Bush

Science Pauses
Vannevar Bush

Memex Revisited
Vannevar Bush

from "Of Inventions and Inventors"
Vannevar Bush

Part 3: The Legacy of Memex

Letter to Vannevar Bush and Program On Human Effectiveness
Douglas C. Engelbart

As We Will Think
Theodor H. Nelson

Memex as an Image of Potentiality Revisited
Linda C. Smith

Hypertext--Does It Reduce Cholesterol, Too?
Norman K. Meyrowitz

Memex: Getting Back on the Trail
Tim Oren

Aristotle's Library: Memex as Vision and Hypertext as Reality
Gregory Crane

>From Trailblazing to Guided Tours:
The Legacy of Vannevar Bush's Vision of Hypertext Use
Randall H. Trigg