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No Time to Think

Vannevar Bush‘s 1945 article, “As We May Think,” has been much celebrated as a central inspiration for the development of hypertext and the World Wide Web. Less attention, however, has been paid to Bush’s motivation for imagining a new generation of information technologies; it was his hope that more powerful tools, by automating the routine aspects of information processing, would leave researchers and other professionals more time for creative thought. But now, more than sixty years later, it seems clear that the opposite has happened, that the use of the new technologies has contributed to an accelerated mode of working and living that leaves us less to think, not more. In this talk I will explore how this state of affairs has come about and what we can do about it.

Speaker: David M. Levy
David Levy earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science at Stanford University in 1979 and a Diploma in Calligraphy and Bookbinding from the Roehampton Institute (London) in 1983. For more than fifteen years he was a researcher at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), where his work, described in “Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age” (Arcade, 2001), centered on exploring the transition from paper and print to digital. During the year 2005-2006, he was the holder of the Papamarkou Chair in Education and Technology at the Library of Congress. A professor at the UW Information School since 2000-2001, he has been investigating how to restore contemplative balance to a world marked by information overload, fragmented attention, extreme busyness, and the acceleration of everyday life.