As We May Think by Vannevar Bush (1945)
I found this article absolutely fascinating. When I first started reading it had slipped my mind that this was written in 1945 and all I could think for the first section was “Where has this guy been? We already have all this!” His discussion of the “memex” in sections 6 and 7 is especially interesting. When he discusses how common systems of indexing, usually following an alphabetical or numeral system, don’t mimic the way the mind works I immediately realized that he was laying the ground work for hyperlinks. I know from previous reading that Tim Burners Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, worked under this very same goal – to create a system of organizing knowledge in a way that mimics the human mind. Bush’s ideas about having potentially all the information in the world in one place, the “memex” and having that information be hyperlinked and customizable is incredibly visionary, even if his vision of the actual hardware was (thankfully) not realized.
This was also a prime example of why you should never read the comments section of anything. Two of those four comments definitely made me dumber.