As We May Think

posted Feb 6, 2012, 4:53 PM by Nick Bader
I love this essay.  In fact, this essay is why I joined the seminar: David's invitation email had a train of links leading to a copy of this article, and before I knew it I was knee-deep in this article.

It is also nice to know that the mysterious eye-doctor-looking fellow on the cover of the New Media Reader is in fact a scientist of the future.

To me, the most obvious arresting characteristic of this article is the juxtaposition of two things: (1) Bush's insightful, perhaps prophetic, predictions about the manner and degree to which our lives would become enmeshed in technology, and (2) the almost universally inaccurate predictions about the means by which this technology would be implemented.  The fact that this essay has lost none of its value since 1945 reminds me that it is the goals of technology that are important, even if we get bogged down in the "how."

I am wary of cases where a technical advancement can be a solution without a problem.  Technology has a cost (including a learning curve) and a benefit.  Where the benefit is poorly understood, the books may not balance in favor of the new advance.  Sometimes we adopt it anyway, and let the benefits catch up later.  Bush reminds me that there should be a clear goal to all of our murky technological half-steps: at the end, we should be human, only better.

I am not sure how my time as a child playing Space Invaders meets this criterion.