Vannevar’s article was enjoyable for me for two reasons. 1. I loved in high school when my Physics teacher would go off on tangents and start telling us stories about Newton and Einstein and the history of science – it was always so fascinating to me and pretty reliably more interesting than studying friction or kinetics or radio waves. So I enjoyed his brief discussion of the glory days of science when the giants came together to work. 2. We got to see speculative thinking in action as he pondered about the future of the camera.
Vannevar’s thoughts on the camera reminded me of reading Orwell’s 1984 for the first time and seeing how Orwell’s creations had slipped into the modern world. Newspeak felt like abbreviations for text messaging and unfortunately, while not as horrifying as Orwell’s, Big Brother had penetrated society. I guess my point here was more that we can see the effects of design fiction. That letting our imaginations run wild can provide inspiration for future designers with better technology – as much as a terrible idea can prompt a good one. It also brings into the question of was this person great at predicting a future event/product or did the event/product only see the light of day because the prediction inspired it.
It also inspired some divergent thoughts for me of whether we’d reach a day when a lifetime wasn’t enough time to allow for progress because of all the information one would have to learn/grasp first. Unlikely… but i’ll admit I pondered it.
Bush, Vannevar. “As We May Think.” The Atlantic July 1945. The Atlantic. Web. 19 July 2013.