The Memex

I came across this article today, written in 1945, considering all the magnificent technological possibilities that the future might hold.

As we may think

“Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and, to coin one at random, “memex” will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

“It consists of a desk, and while it can presumably be operated from a distance, it is primarily the piece of furniture at which he works. On the top are slanting translucent screens, on which material can be projected for convenient reading. There is a keyboard, and sets of buttons and levers. Otherwise it looks like an ordinary desk.

“In one end is the stored material. The matter of bulk is well taken care of by improved microfilm. Only a small part of the interior of the memex is devoted to storage, the rest to mechanism. Yet if the user inserted 5000 pages of material a day it would take him hundreds of years to fill the repository, so he can be profligate and enter material freely.”

and so on. Fascinating!

Learning Technologies exhibition at Olympia

Last week I was lucky to be allowed to go to the Learning Technologies & Learning and Skills Exhibitions at Olympia in London. (Lucky because I persuaded work to pay for the flights…). I have never been to one of these things before and it was initially really overwhelming: so many stalls (with companies trying to sell their wares) and a continual hubbub of networking. Even the seminars were out in the open exhibition floor – just some chairs in rows, a large screen for the inevitable PowerPoint slide deck, some loudspeakers and a guest presenter.

On which subject, amongst the teeming hordes I happened across someone I recognised – James McLuckie delivering a seminar on The Essentials of Supporting an Online Learning Community. Overall I met 3 fellow MSc students – all by accident – not bad going for an online course with students all over the world!

Getting practical

I’m all excited… this week I’ve launched my first project at work directly influenced by this MSc – I’ve set up discussion boards to engage a learner group (people who are aspiring to be team leaders in our call centre) and to encourage them to keep on learning outside the classroom environment. So far they seem to be up for it, although time will tell of course. The current group will be about 40 people when it’s fully got going. The next challenge will be to extend it to another 140 existing leaders as they go through a leadership development course over the next 12 months.