Knowledge Navigation


Knowledge Navigation Gallery, New Computer Museum v. 1.5

knowledge : the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by humankind
navigation : to steer a course through a medium — Merriam-Webster (11th ed.)

knowledge navigation : to steer a course through the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by humankind — Knowledge Navigation (

This exhibit features a collection that resulted from Mary Hopper’s work studying and teaching about the ways that computational technologies can augment human’s exploration of knowledge. Of course, predictably, the collection includes extensive source material related to the early hypertext community and also aspires to maintain a very extensive, functioning collection of the hardware and software necessary to run the sophisticated systems that existed before the Web was born.

The Virtual Edition of the New Computer Museum is essentially an exercise in literal, 3D spatial navigation of knowledge, and specifically knowledge about computer history. Creating 3D interfaces to make navigating bodies of knowledge more accessible and interesting has been a theme of Mary Hopper’s career over the last thirty years. This is just the latest in a series of sites that she has authored for this purpose.

The term “knowledge navigation” itself has a long history. Here is a brief introduction to the people and ideas behind the terminology.

Navigating Knowledge: Hypertext Pioneers

Alas, the end of the video concludes on a somewhat biased interpretation of the history of the concept of knowledge navigation and hypertext since the 1980s. This exhibit would take a somewhat different take on the questions of the etiology and possibilities, both realized and unrealized, as informed by some lesser known works and developments. In addition, since this area is one of Mary Hopper’s primary academic interests, her extensive collection of primary and secondary resources would be part of the New Computer Museum’s collections. An authorized and complete copy of the original video tapes from the 1995 MIT/Brown Vannevar Bush Symposium are just one example of what the treasures that the collection contains. One goal of the museum would be to maintain functioning copies of as many early, pre-web hypertext systems as would be reasonable possible. In fact, many of them are already up and running.



Memex animation – Vannevar Bush’s diagrams made real

Related sites
Bush & Memex YouTube Channel
Bush’s article As We May Think (Wikipedia)
Bush’s Memex (, Memex (Wikipedia)



Related sites
Hypertext in historical context: Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson revisited (Mary Hopper & Mark Bernstein, MIT Communications Forum/Media in Transition, October 1, 1998)
Educational courseware production in advanced computing environments (Mary Hopper, 1993)

Emanuel Goldberg, Electronic Document Retrieval, And Vannevar Bush’s Memex(Michael K. Buckland, School of Library and Information Studies, UC Berkeley)

As We May Think” A Celebration of Vannevar Bush’s 1945 Vision (MIT, 1995)
Memex and Beyond Web Site (Brown University)
The MIT/Brown Vannevar Bush Symposium (Engelbart Archives)

Hypertext: an introduction and survey (Conklin, 1987)
Vision and Reality of Hypertext and Graphical User Interfaces (Matthias Müller-Prove)
Software Environments (The Electronic Labyrinth, University of Virginia)
The Institute of Advanced Technologies in the Humanities (IATH, University of Virginia)

History of hypertext (Wikipedia)
Engelbart’s Augment (, NLS & Augment (Wikipedia)
Nelson’s Xanadu (, Project Xanadu (Wikipedia)

Knowledge Navigator

The Knowledge Navigator is a concept described by former Apple Computer CEO John Sculley in his 1987 book, Odyssey. It describes a device that can access a large networked database of hypertext information, and use software agents to assist searching for information. – Wikipedia

Related sites
Knowledge Navigator (Wikipedia)
Knowledge Systems 101: From Alexandria to Hitchhiker’s Guide (Mary HOpper, MIT IAP 2000, January, 2000)

Knowledge Places

knowledge place : the digital representation of a real or fictional physical place that is designed to access knowledge — the place’s furnishings symbolize the type of knowledge it will access — Mary Hopper, Cosma

Related sites
The Knowledge Kingdom May 15, 2010 (Hopper, MIT)
Knowledge Navigation (Mary Hopper,


Note: The virtual New Computer Museum is an exercise in 3D, spatial Knowledge Navigation.

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