Andrew Louis

    Building a Memex

    In 1945, the Memex was proposed as the ultimate personal library for a user’s books, correspondence, and records. In addition to just storing this data, users could navigate, organize, link, and share it with others.

    Unfortunately, zero were ever built but the Memex had a direct influence on the first interactive computers and the development of hypertext and the internet. In an age when computers were room-sized analog devices for simulating missile trajectories or calculating payroll, this idea presented an alternative vision of of what computers should be able to do.

    Though computers are more powerful and ubiquitous than ever, our digital histories are often inaccessible, fragmented, or locked behind corporate platforms. As a long-time journaller, note-taker, and digital packrat, the idea of the Memex resonated with me. Inspired by this seventy-year-old vision, I'm now attempting to build an app for making my personal history accessible for search and introspection.

    Here's a conference talk that goes over more details:

    What I've built so far:

    • Real-time importers for all the digital history I generate (email, browser history, photos, podcast listening, ebook reading, etc). Each of these activity streams gets processed into a graph-like schema, accessible through a unified API.
    • An interface for searching, filtering, and analyzing all this personal data.
    • A flexible authoring tool for composing, organizing, and annotating information.

    I'm working towards publishing more details but if you’re interested in learning more now, I'd love to chat by email or you can sign up for the development newsletter:

    Newsletter Archive

    (I haven't stopped working on the Memex! I just haven't done a newsletter in a while. But below are the archives:)

    Crystals, ESP, and Mind Control
    Jun 4, 2018
    Using my Memex to chat with my past
    Mar 27, 2018
    The Hunt for the Missing Memex Reference
    Feb 25, 2018
    Bad remembrance machines
    Jan 28, 2018
    Three origin stories about the internet
    Jan 21, 2018
    The implicit lie of the blank page
    Dec 17, 2017
    Imagining the Memex
    Dec 3, 2017
    A European interlude
    Nov 26, 2017
    Five centuries of logging
    Oct 22, 2017
    A 45-ton personal archive
    Oct 14, 2017
    Leaves on the family tree
    Oct 8, 2017
    The Memex heads to StrangeLoop
    Sep 23, 2017
    Fractals of memories
    Sep 17, 2017
    Sep 10, 2017
    A week of beta testing
    Sep 3, 2017
    Getting the Memex ready for beta
    Aug 20, 2017
    Pass by reference; pass by copy
    Aug 13, 2017
    Fifteen years of conversations
    Aug 6, 2017
    Being on nodding terms with the past
    Jul 30, 2017
    The dangers of Memex'ing
    Jul 23, 2017
    Maps! Maps! Maps!
    Jul 16, 2017
    The Memex vs Quantified Self
    Jul 9, 2017
    The Memex becomes weather-ready
    Jul 2, 2017
    A Memex for dreams
    Jun 25, 2017
    Improving the onboarding experience
    Jun 18, 2017
    The Memex learns to read
    May 28, 2017
    Putting the Memex into a container
    May 21, 2017
    The Memex does New York
    May 14, 2017
    Prince, force diagrams, and New York
    Apr 30, 2017
    Climbing up and down stairs
    Apr 23, 2017