What is a memex

“Memex” is a portmanteau of “memory” and “index,” coined by Vannevar Bush in his essay As We May Think. It was an idea far ahead of its time for a system “that would permit a researcher to follow and annotate topics of interest, analogous to later hypertext technologies.” It sounds like a personal database, but it was supposed to be more than that – an extension of an individual’s memory and curiosity that was designed not just to store information, but to help them recall and link things they stored in a meaningful way.

It’s an early vision of how information technology could expand the human memory and serve its curiosity and inquiry.

Instead of getting that, we live in a world of Zunes (the GoBots of iPods), Vine (the Hydrox of TikToks), Threads (the Zunes of Twitters), and X (The Chris Gaines of actual Twitter).

So, at various points, people, myself included, keep trying to build memexes or things like memexes or just some way to feel like there’s a space for your brain on the internet.

The core idea here is to make a sort of mental storehouse, made as digitally sustainable as possible – built on open source standards and software, simple enough that I can just get it out the door and use it, but with of and resistant to being remotely shut off by a billionaire.

meta memex