TECH TALK: Constructing the Memex: Putting It Together

Heres how it all starts to fit together.

Each of us creates a weblog and a personal directory (MyMemex). In fact, for each of our interest areas, we should create a separate page with its own blogroll and directory. This is used to help focus the results that we will get on our Mirror Blog. [The one thing I am not too sure people will do is whether they will build their outline of interests the personal directory. Perhaps, by looking at the posts they are doing and the blogroll, it should be possible to create a taxonomy based on the categories of the Open Directory Project (DMOZ) and then allow users to make their additions and alterations.]

On a regular basis, we go about updating our weblog. New inputs can come from our own thinking, emails that we get or write, documents that we receive or create, web pages and blog posts that we see and like, subscribed RSS feeds coming in to our mailbox, and perhaps inputs from digital cameras.

As each of us updates our MyMemex or the GroupMemex for the communities that we belong to, the interactions of the Memex with the rest of the ecosystem will result in the constant updation of the MirrorBlog, which will point us to people, ideas and information that could be of use to us. It also captures the state of the world (for example, the days headlines and weather) to give a context to the thinking that is happening.

One can think of the Mirror Blog as a blogdex for our neighborhood. The current Blogdex (and Daypop) sites show whats popular across the world of bloggers. More often than not, we are not as much interested as what is being discussed by the rest of the world. Our interest is likely to be greater to see what is being discussed by our friends, and their friends. It is this neighbourhood context that the Mirror Blog will focus on.

We can also go to someone elses Mirror Blog. For example, if you know that I write on information management, if you are keen to get the wider context on information management, you may decide to come and see the Mirror Blog for my information management category on my weblog. It is not something you may do everyday, but every once in a while to keep yourself abreast of the most recent happenings in the space.

It is more important than ever before now to keep a wide-angle lens. As the world gets more closely linked together both electronically and through immigration and trade, developments in one part of the world can have spiraling effects elsewhere. Witness for example the recent spread of the SARS virus from China across many countries of the world. The same could tomorrow apply to idea viruses emerging out of not the developed world, but one of the emerging markets.

In a world increasingly driven by knowledge, the Memex can help us get a lead-in to new ideas. In my case, I couldnt have imagined thinking or writing about the Memex a year or so ago. But over the year, being plugged in to the grid of bloggers has helped provide a fascinating set of ideas which otherwise I would not have been exposed to easily sitting in an area (Mumbai in India) far away from Silicon Valley. In a way, I have created by own prototype of a Memex in the form of my blog, driven by the selective and widespread reading, and interactions with people Ive never met. The challenge now is to make it available for a wider audience.

Tomorrow: Why Now

TECH TALK Constructing the Memex+T

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.