As We May Think | Study Guide

Vannevar Bush

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Course Hero. "As We May Think Study Guide." September 21, 2020. Accessed October 3, 2022.


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Vannevar Bush

Year Published





Nonfiction, Science

At a Glance

The descriptive essay "As We May Think" was first published in the Atlantic magazine in July 1945. In it American scientist Vannevar Bush (1890–1974) describes his vision for the future. He wrote the essay while World War II (1939–45) was drawing to a close. Bush wonders how science will shift its focus from destroying the enemy to bettering the world during peacetime.

Bush describes the ways that science has helped better the lives of humans. He notes how scientific advances have led to new or improved technologies. He also speculates on the future path of scientific improvements. The amount of scientific information is vast and will continue to expand. Bush expresses concerns about information overload. He writes that scientists need a way to organize this information in a useful way and in doing so anticipates the coming inventions of the World Wide Web and hypertext. Bush believes that science will find a way to fit volumes of encyclopedias onto a small storage device. He speculates that a device which he names the memex machine will help organize and access information. His hypothetical device functions much like modern-day personal computers.

Bush's article provides a core vision for information's importance to society. Bush foresees information science becoming a central discipline within science. He was one of the first thinkers to envision the issues posed by the information explosion and overload. Scientists today still write about how Bush's vision influenced their individual work.

Perspective and Narrator

"As We May Think" is a nonfiction essay written by the scientist, electrical engineer, and inventor Vannevar Bush (1890–1974) that predicts the future computer and information age.

About the Title

The title "As We May Think" references the future of information, technology, and human thought. Bush is a visionary who foresees many of the future inventions of the information age. His essay also references the shift in scientists' focus from winning wars to improving the well-being of society.


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