Hypertext and Our Collective Destiny

Abstract (in English): 

Bush considered the plight of a researcher deluged with inaccessible information. He proposed the MEMEX, a machine to rapidly access, and allow random links between, pieces of information. Networks and computers have since allowed us to exceed even that far-sighted vision in terms of speed and convenience. However, we have not seen dramatic advances in our ability to solve political problems, to manage large organizations, or to magnify our group intuition.

We must do more than empower the individual. We must allow people and machines interacting together to behave in new ways as a mass. Now that we can make trails though our information, we must create a substrate in which these trails will grow into an increasingly meaningful whole, rather than a tangled mass. We and our documents are capable of operating together as a large machine but not as a large mind. Groups of all sizes must acquire gifts of intuition, correlation and invention which we associate normally with people rather than machines, before we can rise to Bush's challenge to mankind to "grow in the wisdom of race experience", rather than "perish in conflict".

(Source: Author's abstract)

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Scott Rettberg