Evolution of Technology (TEC 154 2014S) : Outlines

Outline 29: Hypertext and the Web

Held: Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Back to Outline 28 - Biotechnology (Discussion). On to Outline 30 - Intellectual Property (2).


We consider Vannevar Bush's "As We May Think". We also consider its relevance to modern technologies.

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Extra Credit

The Paper


This paper is important in the history of computer technology for a few main reasons.

A few background questions, some of which you asked, not all of which you will be able to answer.

What reasons might I have had for having you read this article?

What do you see as Bush's primary thesis?

Textual Questions

What did the author mean at the end of the article when he said "terminate the process"?

What is the author saying at the bottom of page 7 regarding Abacus and calculators?

Why does Bush think that modern technologies like cars could not have succeeded during ancient times? (p. 3)


What, to you, were the highlights of the article? (Yes, I"m okay if you say "none".)

Other Interesting Questions

On page 5 Bush discusses the importance of compressing material in relation to costs and ability to distribute information on a large scale very cheaply. Does compression of material lead to greater risk of loss of information or perhaps distribution of inaccurate information? Are there other risks associated with technologies that compress vast amounts of information into single entities?

To what extent do you agree with the statement that "For years inventions have extended man's physical powers rather than the powers of his mind?" Can you think of inventions which have indeed extended man's mind?

On the first page Bush describes the lasting benefits of science and research, saying they have increased control of the material environment, improved food, improved clothing, improved shelter, increase lifespan, and a number of other things. But are these still the goals of science and research today? How much more must we improve these mentioned living conditions? Surely, parts of the world still need these benefits, but what about developed/wealthy nations? Should the goals of science and research now undertake different goals for a society that already has such a good standard of living in these terms?

Bush talks a lot about recording information, and how it will become more streamlined, yet that it will remain physical. On page 3, he mentions photography, and how photographers will walk with "walnuts" next to their heads and finger-activated shutters. Why does Bush think that the light, shutter, and glass will remain, but other parts of the camera will be eliminated? Can a camera become fully integrated into our bodies?

What might Bush suggest are the advantages and disadvantages of technologies that increase man’s control of his material environment vs. technologies that increase man’s control of intellectual property?

Copyright (c) 2014 Samuel A. Rebelsky.

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