Learning and Recommending: The Memex needs to learn from all that we do the types of searches, the links we click on. This learning can make it more efficient in its recommendations. Today, we are seeing Bayesian analysis being used to detect and filter spams from our inbox. We also see recommendations of books at Amazon based on our prior history. This needs to apply much more to the information that we access.
Making Connections: Linking us to people, ideas and information is one of the most important aspects of the Memex. As the sources of information and its quantum increases, we will increasingly rely on experts specialists whom we trust to make the right judgments. The Memex will help in identifying these experts and connecting us to their ideas. Think of these as shortcuts that we are building in the information network.
Alerting: This makes the difference between Push and Pull. Today, we are used to pulling in information from all kinds of sources. What would be good is to have a system pushing relevant information our way, and alerting us to items of relevance for us. The last-mile to the user has been bridged with always-on wireless devices like cellphones.
Personalising: The Memex needs to take into account our context, and thus provide a custom view of the information space. In its efforts to maintain consistency, Google has forsaken the individualised view. By being able to remember the trails one took and the information gathered, it should be able to create distinctive views of the information space.
Visualising: The Memex needs to use the new developments in presentation, especially in visualization to present richer views of the information space. It needs to, like video games, provide an integrated query-and-response space.
In a sense, the Memex is more about assimilation than aggregation, more value-added integration than scanning silos, more amplification than just presentation. It needs to work silently in the background, rather than making us change dramatically the way we do our normal activities. (Of course, some change in the way we interact with our information sources will be inevitable.) It should attempt to augment, not try and replace, our memory. It should be able to widen the information net that we are able to access, and yet, specialise it to just what we need.
It may appear that what is being attempted is the Holy Grail of Information (and Knowledge) Management. It may seem like a Mission Impossible. Far from it! As we shall see, the tools and technologies to build the Memex are now at hand. The interesting thing is that, as individuals, if we do our information-related activities just a little differently, we can be active participants in an emergent system which will help build out our very own Memex.
Tomorrow: Building Blocks: Blogs
TECH TALK Constructing the Memex+T