Bush 1945

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Bush, "As We May Think" (1945)

Part 1

War is over; scientists need new task

What has been the contribution of the new instruments?

"Increased his control of his material environment"

"Growing mountain of research" -- researcher is bogged down by information; can't keep up with it all -- "publication has been extended far beyond our present ability to make real use of the record"

Leibniz once invented a calculating machine but "the economics of the situation were against it: the labor involved in constructing it, before the days of mass

production, exceeded the labor to be saved by its use, since all it could accomplish could be duplicated by sufficient use of pencil and paper"

Babbage couldn't produce his arithmetical machine -- "construction and maintenance costs were then too heavy"

Had an ancient Egyptian Pharoah tried to build a car it would have taxed all the resources of the kingdom

Part 2

To be useful to science, records need to be "continuously extended, it must be stored, and above all it must be consulted"

Progress in photography -- camera on forehead, shutter tripped by wire down sleeve; take pictures of every moment in a lab; dry photography; microphotography

Encyclopedia Britannica "could be reduced to the volume of a matchbox"

"The Encyclopoedia Britannica could be reduced to the volume of a matchbox. A library of a million volumes could be compressed into one end of a desk. If the human race has produced since the invention of movable type a total record, in the form of magazines, newspapers, books, tracts, advertising blurbs, correspondence, having a volume corresponding to a billion books, the whole affair, assembled and compressed, could be lugged off in a moving van."

Part 3

Voter, Vocoder, stenotype -- recording voices -- note gender politics

"For mature thought there is no mechanical substitute. But creative thought and essentially repetitive thought are very different things. For the latter there are, and may be, powerful mechanical aids."

Part 4

"It is a far cry from the abacus to the modern keyboard accounting machine. It will be an equal step to the arithmetical machine of the future."

Part 5

Not just scientist would find machines useful -- logical processes could be mechanized

We can extend the record "in its present bulk we can hardly consult it" -- use selection to create knowledge, but is a "stone adze in the hands of a cabinetmaker"