Is Memex a digital media?

Not completely yes.

  • First: most obviously, the Memex (had it ever been built) would have
    operated on photo-mechanical, rather than digital technology. (As you watch the
    animation, you can hear the machanical operation sound, that sound would be a
    proof to believe that it is not digital media)
  • Second, the operation of the memex is tied to the physical presence of texts
    – a stack of densely-printed microfilms, which can be sorted and displayed
    quickly, but which must first be printed and distributed to a paying researcher.
  • Bush was fixated on the human mind. All of his initial machines and visions
    were analog devices. Furthermore, he frequently used the analogy of electricity
    to the human brain. In doing so, he believed that he could improve on the
    imperfect biological processes that existed.

Chen LiuKe and Xia Li

Is Memex a digital media? (York University CS Department)

The Memex is Vannevar Bush’s hypothetical microfilm-based document storage and retrieval system, proposed in the 1940s but never built.

The above excerpt is the conclusion to a computer science paper posted to Peter Roosen-Runge’s curricular website. The first two points in this list are plagiarized from an article I wrote earlier this year. See for yourself:

Seeing the memex as the direct precursor to the WWW is attractive, but problematic for several reasons. First, and most obviously, the memex (had it ever been built) would have operated on photo-mechanical, rather than digital, technology. Second, the operation of the memex is tied to the physical presence of texts – a stack of densely-printed microfilms, which can be sorted and displayed quickly, but which must first be printed and distributed to a paying researcher. Third, the memex is only additive – the scholar can duplicate pages, but cannot synthesize (by copying and pasting chunks) or inserting or rearranging words in a stream. “On the Trail of the Memex,” Dichtung Digital

I e-mailed Roosen-Runge two weeks ago, and got no response. I e-mailed Roosen-Runge and his department chair a week later, and still got no response.

The paper in question does include my article in its “Reference” section, but there aren’t quotation marks around the passage lifted from my work. I’m appalled at the lack of response I have received from the instructor.

While I’m at it, I don’t really think that Chen LiuKe and Xia Li know what they are talking about — the Memex is an analog storage system, which involves taking pictures on microfilm. It’s a chemical and mechanical process — it’s analog, not digital. The only answer the three bulleted points supports would be “Not in any way, no.” I see nothing that convinces me the Memex should be considered “a digital media” [sic].