Tag Archives: distributed cognition

It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his [sic] memory.

Check out this extraordinary prediction from 1945, imagining a device enlarging human memory. Cited in Pea 2004

Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library.
It needs a name…“memex” will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores
all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted
with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.
…Wholly newforms 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. The lawyer has
at his touch the associated opinions and decisions of his whole experience, and of the experience
of friends and authorities. The patent attorney has on call the millions of issued patents,
with familiar trails to every point of his client’s interest. The physician, puzzled by a patient’s
reactions, strikes the trail established in studying an earlier similar case, and runs rapidly
through analogous case histories, with side references to the classics for the pertinent anatomy
and histology. The chemist, struggling with the synthesis of an organic compound, has all the
chemical literature before him in his laboratory, with trails following the analogies of compounds,
and side trails to their physical and chemical behavior.

“As We May Think”(Bush, 1945) cited in Pea 2004, p.440