[linux-elitists] memex on a stick?

Tony Godshall togo at of.net
Tue Sep 21 12:49:19 PDT 2010

>> ...You seem to have a clear idea of what a memex is that many of the rest
>> of us lack- could you point us to a definition that fits what you are
>> talking about a little better than the one on Wikipedia?...
>  "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."
> http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=jep;view=text;rgn=main;idno=3336451.0001.101

Thank you

The above is quoted from a 1995 reprint of an article in The Atlantic.
 The Atlantic's own site has the original 1945 article at:


Oddly, I was not familiar with it... ;-)

> It's a repository for documents and notes, under user
> control.  Instead of thinking, "oh, I read that on the
> Internet somewhere, let me go back out and get it,"
> you think, "I read that in connnection with a certain
> project, so I'll look at my project notes and get it
> and related documents."
> I'm not really comfortable with the Google Assisted
> Cognition model of research.

And probably not with evernote's either... tho they also appear to
have been inspired by the memex concept...

"Apr 7, 2008 ... A conversation with Phil Libin about EverNote's new
memex « Jon Udell “Here's an interesting and counter-intuitive aspect
of EverNote. ...
- Cached - Similar

"2008 April « Jon Udell
On this week's Interviews with Innovators, Phil Libin discusses
EverNote, a new software-plus-services offering that aims to become
your memex. ...
blog.jonudell.net/2008/04/ - Similar

"IT Conversations | Jon Udell's Interviews with Innovators | Phil Libin
Apr 2, 2008 ... Now he's back as CEO of EverNote, a company that aims
to build the memex, or personal outboard memory, that Vannevar Bush
famously imagined ...
itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail3600.html - Cached - Similar

>From that perspective, there are certainly a lot of others looking for
an alternative to evernote...


I'm not seeing anything that quite matches your desire (and
increasingly mine as well)

And just to be clear, what you want want, I gather, is something like
evernote but with the store being under your control rather than
theirs.  And would also like to take advantage of git's vaunted

> The key functionality is tagging and linking:
>  "When the user is building a trail, he names it,
>  inserts the name in his code book, and taps it
>  out on his keyboard. Before him are the two items
>  to be joined, projected onto adjacent viewing
>  positions. At the bottom of each there are a number
>  of blank code spaces, and a pointer is set to
>  indicate one of these on each item. The user taps
>  a single key, and the items are permanently joined."

Interesting.  So that does seem to be a step beyond what evernote
offers, though I can't say I've really done much with it.  I don't
think they have a code-book or side-by-side joining.

Most of the projects referenced as an alternative to evernote seem to
have a database back-end and a web UI, often PHP.  I've certainly seen
database projects with git or other (D)VCS as back-end proposed...

Here's a question- is (D)VCS integration really necessary?  Or would a
memex-type app that stores its files locally in some obvious format do
the job and then one could do the git commit and sync separately?
(And by "obvious format" I mean reasonably small and diff-able files
so as not to run into the problems posed by large files- presumably
that would rule out most SQL databases)

One interesting side-note / half a thought- Linus has occasionally
referred to git as a content-addressable filesystem...


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