Bush and Borges: information beyond our ken.

World War II took scientific resources and redirected them toward the war effort. Bush points out that this redirection and influx of money gave us technological advances as well as specialization within scientific disciplines. Both the new technology and the specialization expanded the boundaries of our knowledge. We had new data, new ideas and new ways. Bush envisioned a way of storing, linking and retrieving knowledge, all with the understanding that the system had to be expandable.

I likened the memex to Wikipedia. It houses knowledge from myriad fields in quite a few languages while being navigable and interwoven. With the degree of specialization and the amount of new technology we have over 65 years later, Wikipedia is starting to look more like Borges’ library. We know that the information makes sense to someone and we know that those languages are intelligible to some people, but more and more of the pages are unintelligible to a growing percentage of it’s users. The intersection of the memex and Borges’ library shows us that information needs to be catalogued. It’s all well and good having all information known to man in one place, but if it’s not searchable, if the information you want isn’t retrievable, you may as well be in a hexagonal room surrounded by books that you can’t read.

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3 responses to “Bush and Borges: information beyond our ken.

  1. I love the way you make the connection between the two pieces, librariems; it’s as if one piece offers all the promise of this new wealth of information and formats, and the other cautions us against the new challenges it will bring.

    • Lots of scholarship from the LIS and Media Studies world out there on Wikipedia, if you care to search for it!

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