Notes: Vannevar Bush: As We May Think

Bush, V. (1945). As We May Think. The Atlantic Magazine. (12)

on overload:

There is a growing mountain of research. But there is increased evidence that we are being bogged down today as specialization extends. The investigator is staggered by the findings and conclusions of thousands of other workers—conclusions which he cannot find time to grasp, much less to remember, as they appear. Yet specialization becomes increasingly necessary for progress, and the effort to bridge between disciplines is correspondingly superficial.

on the shallows:

Mendel’s concept of the laws of genetics was lost to the world for a generation because his publication did not reach the few who were capable of grasping and extending it; and this sort of catastrophe is undoubtedly being repeated all about us, as truly significant attainments become lost in the mass of the inconsequential.

on the need for effective access and selection of information:

There may be millions of fine thoughts, and the account of the experience on which they are based, all encased within stone walls of acceptable architectural form; but if the scholar can get at only one a week by diligent search, his syntheses are not likely to keep up with the current scene.

The entire article is fascinating, as a look from 1945 toward a future of machines capable of typing for us, and of dry photography that would let a person take photos on a roll capable of holding 100 exposures.