The form of information organization most famously described by Vannevar Bush in his July 1945 essay “As We May Think,” as the storage method of his hypothetical device, the This description is often considered the first description of hypertext.
Bush described associative indexing as the way the mind naturally works, making it a more efficient method for information storage and retrieval.
Associative connections are also considered the basis of creativity, magical thinking and paranoia.
Information scientist and UFO researcher Jacques Vallee takes associative indexing a large step further:
If there is no time dimension as we usually assume there is, we may be traversing events by association. Modern computers retrieve information associatively. You ‘evoke’ the desired records by using keywords, words of power: you request the intersection of ‘microwave’ and ‘headache,’ and you find twenty articles you never suspected existed…. If we live in the associative universe of the software scientist rather than the sequential universe of the spacetime physicist, then miracles are no longer irrational events. The philosophy we could derive would be closer to Islamic ‘Occasionalism‘ than to the Cartesian or Newtonian universe. And a new theory of information would have to be built. Such a theory might have interesting things to say about communication with denizens of other physical realities.
- (Messengers of Deception, 215-216)