In 1945, Vannevar Bush wrote:

A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

A project with similar objectives but differing technical approach, Buckminster Fuller’s Chronofile, was described by Bucky thusly:

Because I knew at the 1927 outset of the commitment that no one else thought my commitment to be practical or profitable, I also knew that no one would keep any record … I saw clearly that I must keep my own comprehensive records - records being a prime requisite of scientific exploration. This I have done. It has been expensive and difficult both to accomplish and maintain.

As a third literary inspiration, Vernor Vinge gives us a vision called GreenInc from Marooned in Realtime (1986). Throughout the novel, the characters make use of a powerful database known as GreenInc. gthnk itself is loosely named after GreenInc.

Gthnk stores all your thoughts and papers. It is like a Memex, Chronofile, or GreenInc. It is always with you: on your laptop (most private), on your phone (write-only), or anywhere that you can edit a text file. Gthnk will be there to record your thoughts.

Write to Gthnk, then later: search. Consider what gthnk offers:

  • storage on your local machine; not the cloud
  • simple text format will be readable by future generations
  • serialize to hardcopy without loss of structure
  • OCR gthnk-formatted hardcopy with maintenance of structure
  • search your record for key words, syntax, links, and more