Andrew Louis is building a modern Memex. He’s also writing wonderful short-form essays about the history, technology, and politics of personal data.

In the past, when I’ve written about indie web projects, I’ve tried to make the point that they won’t succeed unless they offer fundamentally new and compelling features. Louis makes this same point with much more eloquence:

“Controlling your personal data is an ideology, not a feature.”

As I build my Memex and work on launching it as an app for others, I have to remind myself that products need to solve problems — simply fulfilling an aesthetic about data ownership isn’t enough.

With this in mind, I think Memexes are fertile terrain well worth exploring. Back in the late 90s the web flirted with Memex-y ideas in the form of (goofily named) Blikis, but they never took off. At the time, I found the tools hard to use and poorly integrated with the wider world. Yet, the few hard-core adopters who stuck with their Blikis have built some of the weirdest, most contextually rich personal content I’ve ever run across on the web. The value of Blikis to dedicated authors, at least, seems undeniable.

So let a thousand Memexes, Blikis, Memkis, and Blogexes bloom. I’ll be watching with interest as Louis attempts to craft both a compelling product and a razor sharp value proposition for Chronobase.