Man-Computer Symbiosis – Hard Drive and Hard Book. Romance or Tragedy?

Computer memories were still very rudimentary at the time this article was published. This caused the the author to be pessimistic about their future capabilities.

The first thing to face is that we shall not store all the technical and scientific papers in computer memory. We may store the parts that can be summarized most succinctly-the quantitative parts and the reference citations-but not the whole.

If 6 decades ago it was unimaginable to store entire books into computer memory, today it is more than feasible. People can now store more books than they would ever need in their entire life in their computer’s hard drive (internal or external). Another alternative is cloud computing, which represents an even more evolved type of computer storage, where those books can just be stored online. We live in age of unlimited computer storage capabilities.

However, does this mean that hard books and like means of data storage in general will be substituted with digital ones? Licklider does not seem to believe so.

Books are among the most beautifully engineered, and human-engineered, components in existence, and they will continue to be functionally important within the context of man-computer symbiosis. (Hopefully, the computer will expedite the finding, delivering, and returning of books.)

Books are indeed beautifully engineered especially with their design as a whole and the organization of their content. However, I wonder what his opinion would be, had it seen the computers of today, and by ‘computer’ I means any type of electronic device that has a memory and data processing capabilities. Not only have computers expedited the finding, delivering, and returning of books, they are even able to provide an alternative to hard books, e-books. So far, nobody can say that computer memories have replaced hard books and ‘ink and paper’ ways of data storage. So then, will digital media and ‘ink and paper’ coexist? Well, at least they do today, but will this continue? Even more, will they be able to exist one for the other, i.e. in symbiosis? In hindsight, Licklider was mostly wrong in his prediction about his prediction concerning the capabilities of computer memories. This is very understandable though, the evolution of technology in the last few decades has been all but predictable.


Nugget 1 – Ink and Paper vs. Digital Media

The following passage was extracted from the reading “As We May Think”:

A record if it is to be useful to science, must be continuously extended, it must be stored, and above all it must be consulted.

The passage states that records (scientific records) must be created, treated, and most importantly they must be consulted. This brought me to the fruit of a research recorded in the CBS News’ website on reading.

A report released Thursday by the National Endowment for the Arts says the number of non-reading adults increased by more than 17 million between 1992 and 2002. (

In today’s reading, the author puts an emphasis on the fact that scientific records must be consulted. If you think about it, the only way that those scientific findings, inventions or innovations can be applied and thus useful to the society, is if at a minimum, they can be consulted. Hence, it is crucial to determine efficient ways to make those records as easy and comfortable and available enough to be consulted. From the look of things, it looks like the good old paper and ink are losing ground to digital media. Whether or not ink and paper will be obsolete is hard to tell, especially provided that they have existed since the beginning of civilization, however one thing is for sure: digital media is growing at a record-breaking speed as a more preferable place to consult information.


I think Folders and Files


Folders and files. That’s what it looks like when I am thinking. Folders represent categories. I tend to fit things/concepts into categories. The things or concepts are the folders’ files. Each file has its own properties such as shape and color, as well as its own sub-files which in turn have their own properties and sub-files, etc. As an illustration, when I think of the word “life”, the folder (or super-file as opposed to sub-file) that it belongs in is “the universe”. Now life has a color property of “green” and a shape property of “circle”. Why? Well, I see life as a cycle and green is the color of spring – when trees start to flourish. One of life’s sub-files would be “happiness”. Happiness looks like a discontinued(dotted) orange line. Discontinued line because, well, good things don’t last eternally. They come, they go, they come back, and so on, until they go forever. Speaking of going forever, that’s where the color “orange” comes in play. Orange is associated with the season of fall, the most beautiful season in my opinion.  However, fall precedes winter – “the season of death” – just like happiness precedes unhappiness.