Beth Anne Swartzwelder
everything english
Why do we speculate?
Categories: Uncategorized

In his article, “As We May Think,” Vannevar Bush discusses a future device that would eventually allow people access to an enormous amount of information without hassle. This device closely resembles those pieces of technology that we are so glued to today so can we credit him with the society that we live in presently? I don’t know if we can go that far, and Dr. Jerz I believe agrees with this statement as he points out the differences between today’s technology and the technology that Bush predicted.

He says that “Bush’s proposal was a tool for accessing those documents a researcher has already decided are worthy of purchasing and adding to his or her personal library, not for identifying texts which have not yet been connected to the user’s personal matrix of intellectual associations.” That being said, Bush was no doubt a visionary in his day and I doubt that people of his time realized the truth of his predictions.

So how does this all relate to today? For me personally, all of my classes at some point or another talk about the future of technology. After all, isn’t that why we are all in an institution such as Seton Hill? I know that I am here to prepare myself for the future and realize that we are all the generation that is going to make the next big impact on history. And technology is going to affect our impact in every way. Then it makes sense that in order to prepare ourselves for that future we need to discuss it and predict sometimes.

The conversation that Katy and I had on her blog really speaks to the issues that I want to bring up about Bush’s predictions. His essay really proves everything that we both said about change and the future. Bush speculated about this technology of the future that he thought would revolutionize both writing and reading. In our recent blogs about Striphas, we were also speculating in our own way about the same thing. We talked about the future of books and how newer and newer technology is going to impact book culture.

Bush wasn’t completely correct with his prediction, and most likely we won’t be either. And in our earlier conversation, we asked the question of why we predict at all if the outcome is always going to be unknown. Bush may not have known that his prediction would partly fail, but in the process of speculation he prepared himself for whatever outcome came. It was not his conclusion that mattered but the process instead.

I think in this class we have to consider this approach as well, and it’s also a good lesson to carry through life. It’s like how Bush says “But if you contribute to the world’s culture, if you have a good idea, compose a tune, invent a sparking plug, write a poem, it may live on, intact, long after your genes have dissolved in the common pool.” We have to recognize the ultimate insignificance of our predictions because of the unknown future, but also the ultimate significance of our contributions despite their correctness. After all, we are analyzing Bush’s essay even though he wasn’t so right, aren’t we?


via Memex and Memes.

3 Comments to “Why do we speculate?”

  1. […] the author or inventor is still necessary. So when BethAnne questions the purpose of prediction on her blog, I’d say the importances the the ideas. The crazy touches of an innovator, an inventor, or an […]

  2. Katelyn Snyder says:

    I referred to your blog post in mine and drew a conclusion. My simplified answer to why I think we have a need to predict the future of technology is that what we predict comes true. Those very ideas are memes. They won’t ever be completely accurate because memes evolve; it is their nature.

  3. […] ideas about the value of predicting what the future holds for book culture and my entry about Vannevar Bush’s memex allowed me to address those questions in a more complex way than was required. I was thinking along […]

Leave a Reply