Vannevar Bush’s “As We May Think”

Struck by the following quote in Vannevar Bush’s 1945 Atlantic article:

“Thus far we seem to be worse off than before—for we can enormously extend the record; yet even in its present bulk we can hardly consult it. This is a much larger matter than merely the extraction of data for the purposes of scientific research; it involves the entire process by which man profits by his inheritance of acquired knowledge. The prime action of use is selection, and here we are halting indeed.”

This seems to still be the case in some ways, though we have access to so much more than we did. The problem now, among other things, is filtering it.  Bush writes of hardly having time to know and read about all the research out there (in 1945), even if access were easier.  This remains true despite the access.

Also in the NSF document, Bush states that “the principle of variety and decentralization of control is nowhere more important than in scientific work.”  It would be interesting to know more about the history of NSF in relation to eugenics research and funding (i.e., Rockefeller Foundation), etc.