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August 03, 1981

About : Explaining This Blog

Welcome to, What Would Vannevar Bush Blog?
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Vannevar Bush was the United States' Chief Scientist during WW2. He didn't do a lot of personal invention and discovery during the war, but he led and directed all our scientific efforts.

Remember that at that time, the nation was a research, innovation, and production juggernaut. The fight for survival was a contest of armies, but also a race of science and invention. Who made the best weapons, and could produce the most of them? Radios, radar, atom bombs, rockets, synthetics, navigation - that was the stuff of the war effort.

In 1945, Vannevar Bush was asked "where does this all go next?" For his answer, Bush wrote an article, "As We May Think" for The Atlantic Monthly about where we might go next, and he described an information machine called the Memex.

The article is here, and it's essential reading for anybody who wants to participate in our modern information society. We tend to think that computers were developed in 1980 and that the internet was invented in 1996, but neither is true. Vannevar Bush's notion of the Memex is partially realized in the Web, but we have a ways to go. Also, you can generally win any geek discussion with a person who hasn't read the article by saying, "Well, you know what Vannevar Bush said about that..."

Taking on the "Nothing is really new under the sun" perspective, I wonder "What Would Vannevar Bush Blog" today? I don't claim to have his mind, but I think it's appropriate to give a tip of the chapeau to the man that started it all -- and that isn't Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

A few details --
  • I'm trying to stop using the word "but", so you'll see that I strikeout that word whenever I use it to stigmatize my bad habit.
  • I was very impressed by the literary use of hypertext in Click by John Barth, also in Atlantic Monthly. This was a remarkable article in the way it suggested the use of hyperlinks as a plot device. It was more remarkable in that it presented underlined links in the text in a paper magazine, and I think it reads better in paper than online. So I try to include that level of embedded links in my writing, and I if it leads you astray I hope you find interesting places.
  • I was also impressed by John Updike's typesetting character Rabbit Angstrom, in his use of rejected text in the linotype machine to indicate what he was thinking. You'll see some of that here, even though the STRIKE style is deprecated.
  • I'm a Pittsburgh guy, I'm a geek, and I'm a sometimes bicycle rider, so my sub-headline could be "Bikes, Bytes, and Burgh". Bikes, Bytes, Burgh

  • Generally, links on this blog will open in a new window, and I try to be persistent in reminding you of that with TITLE/ALT tags.
  • When I revise or edit something previously published, I will insert (edited) at the end of the section, in an attempt at playing fair.


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