Vannevar Bush called attention to this problem in 1945, in his article “As We May Think”. Having, as the US Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, supervised some 6000 leading scientists in the World War 2 effort to stay ahead of the enemy, Bush wrote this article to alert the scientists that, with war being over, there was still one strategically central open problem that they needed to focus on and tackle:
“Professionally our methods of transmitting and reviewing the results of research are generations old and by now are totally inadequate for their purpose. […] The difficulty seems to be, not so much that we publish unduly in view of the extent and variety of present-day interests, but rather that publication has been extended far beyond our present ability to make real use of the record. The summation of human experience is being expanded at a prodigious rate, and the means we use for threading through the consequent maze to the momentarily important item is the same as was used in the days of square-rigged ships.”
Bush urged the scientists to develop suitable technology that would enable us to collaboratively interconnect documents and ideas into patterns of meaning – as a single mind would when thinking. And he pointed to microfilm as a candidate technology.