“As We May Think”
By Vannevar Bush
Hamzeh
Met’eb
Ashraf

Vannever Bush was considered to be the primary organizer of Manhattan Project that produced the hydrogen bombs that bombarded Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In this article, Bush expressed his vision of how
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could lead toward man’s development away from destruction. It was an inspiration for the postwar
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that led to the development of new media. “As We May Think” was published twice in 1945. On one level, the technologies it describes now seem to be antiquated. But at that time it could be considered revolutionary and cutting-edge. It describes voice interaction, information devices, and wireless data connections that are still part of our life today.
The article is a kind of a call for scientists to fight back for a
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that makes them master the knowledge inherited throughout ages to advance man’s life rather than being busy designing destructive gadgets. Bush claims that
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inventions have strengthened man’s body rather than man’s mind. Science improved man’s clothes, his food, and increased his life span. He calls for a
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between man and knowledge; he is concerned with the question of “what will scientists do next?”
Therefore, he goes over different detailed
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and descriptions of some
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projects and developments. These descriptions, however, are only the preparation for Bush’s most famous proposal, the “memex.” The “memex” is a “future device for individual use. It is a sort of mechanized private file and library” in the shape of a desk. The memex, as described, uses methods such as microfilm storage, dry photography, and analog computing to give postwar scholars access to a huge, indexed store of knowledge. In a sense, it is like the human mind that allows both the storage of information and the retrieval of it. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to man’s memory. In fact, the concept of the memex influenced the development of early hypertext systems which eventually led to the creation of the World Wide Web.
One of the questions that Bush raised is : with all of these technological developments, will the author of the future cease to write by hand or typewriter and talk directly to the record? He answered by saying that the author could do so indirectly, by talking to a stenographer or a wax cylinder that changes his speech into words.
Bush concluded his article by expressing the hope that the
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of science, which had recently been used to “throw masses of people against one another with cruel weapons,” could also help the human race “encompass the great record and to grow in the wisdom of race experience.” Bush had already helped to speed the world toward both outcomes. Toward the first, by playing an instrumental role in initiating a massive worldwide arms race. Toward the second, by fostering and inspiring the
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community that would contribute so notably to new media inventions.
Literature in a time-line reflecting the technological advancement:
  • Oral Literature.
  • Written Literature.
  • Printed Literature.
  • E-Books.
  • Digital Literature
  • What Next?

  • Print Vs Hypertext.

  • Dr. Bush's vision of
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    and Digital Literature.
  • The "memex" machine.
  • Print Vs Hypertext.
  • Robert Kendall's "Hypertext: Foe to Print?"


Discussion Questions:
1- How big is the gap between the reader of our generation and digital literature? Is this gap a reflection of a gap between the readers and the technological advancements?
2- In the realm of technological advancements and inventions, do you think that digital literature fashions the gentleman of our generation as traditional literature did before?
3- Do you think that traditional literature will fashion the gentleman of the future generations as it did before?
4- As many works have made the journey from print to hypertext or from hypertext to print, to what extent can the composer of the newer version be
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in expressing the spirit of the original work? Can this move enhance/spoil the literary value of the work?