“As We May Think” Concept Experience

The key concept we want to explore in this experience is that of associative trails. Here’s the experience. It involves browsing the web, and then reflecting on the experience. It should take about an hour or so. Remember, this will be public eventually, so PG-13 is probably the safe maximum here, metaphorically speaking.

1. Launch a browser and head to a website you find interesting. For best results, don’t make the site a Netflix site with a movie–or even YouTube with a video that lasts more than two or three minutes. The idea is to do some browsing.

2. Make a note (electronically, or write it down) of this website and the time you started the experience. This will be very important for later on, so don’t skip this step, and don’t just try to remember the site and time. Make a note.

3. Now, for a half hour or forty-five minutes, just browse the web. Try not to think about the assignment. Simply click around and follow your interests. This may feel random to you, but don’t worry. (I bet you never thought you’d hear that in a college class, did you?)

4. After this half-hour or forty-five minutes, stop. Note the site you stopped on and the time you stopped.

5. Now go into your browser history and look at the list of places you’ve been, from the starting point of the exercise to the stopping point of the exercise. Copy-and-paste the list into a Word doc for safekeeping. You can also do a screenshot, if you’d prefer.

6. Now, in your next blog post, share that set of associative trails and reflect on what you see in them as a portrait of the way your mind works–and a portrait of the way the web works, too. Try to connect at least part of your experience to what Vannevar Bush wrote about in “As We May Think.” Be sure to point out any surprises in what you’ve learned, or anything you see that suggests more questions or makes you curious.

If you have questions, let me know. And good luck! I’m eager to see what you’ll be sharing and reflecting on.