Key Quotes

It seems reasonable to envision, for a time 10 or 15 years hence, a "thinking center" that will incorporate the functions of present-day libraries together with anticipated advances in information storage and retrieval and the symbiotic functions suggested earlier in this paper. The picture readily enlarges itself into a network of such centers, connected to one another by wide-band communication lines and to individual users by leased-wire services.

There is, therefore, a need for an effective, formal, analytical semantics. With such a tool, one might hope to construct a network in which every element of the fund of knowledge is connected to every other element to which it is significantly related. Each link might be thought of as carrying a code identifying the nature of the relation. The nature might be analyzed into type and degree.

We believe that communicators have to do something nontrivial with the information they send and receive. And we believe that we are entering a technological age in which we will be able to interact with the richness of living information —- not merely in the passive way that we have become accustomed to using books and libraries, but as active participants in an ongoing process, bringing something to it through our interaction with it, and not simply receiving something from it by our connection to it.

Creative, interactive communication requires a plastic or moldable medium that can be modeled, a dynamic medium in which premises will flow into consequences, and above all a common medium that can be contributed to and experimented with by all.

Such a medium is at hand -- the programmed digital computer. Its presence can change the nature and value of communication even more profoundly than did the printing press and the picture tube.

Selected Works


Man-Computer Symbiosis


For Members and Affiliates of the Intergalactic Computer Network


Libraries of the Future


The Computer as a Communication Device


The Dream Machine

J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal

External Links