Sunday, April 24, 2005

Vannevar's Trailblazer

Trexy's design is inspired by a visionary paper written way back in 1945, "As We May Think" by Vannevar Bush. Bush describes a machine called a Memex that augments your memory and searching powers by helping you to create and share 'trails of association' between things in the 'common record' (the Internet).

In 1945 this was a wild concept but since then lots has changed. Bush has influenced Ted Nelson (hypertext), Tim Berners-Lee (www) and many others to realise his vision of an interlinked 'common record'. However, there are still major parts of his functional specification missing. Trailblazing, for example, is a crucial, yet largely overlooked part of Vannevar's invention:
"There is a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record. The inheritance from the master becomes, not only his additions to the world's record, but for his disciples the entire scaffolding by which they are erected."
"As We May Think" 1945.
Trailblazing needs three things to work. First we need to navigate the 'common record.' Thanks to Ted Nelson's idea of hypertext, and Berners-Lee's implementation, the WWW provides an interlinked common record. Second, we need a way to remember useful trails of association through the common record. Third, the system should enable us to share our trails with others.

Trexy is designed to add the missing parts of Vannevar's specification. We carefully protect your privacy while enabling you to safely and anonymously share you trails with others. This is what we mean by trailblazing.

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