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Re: [ba-ohs-talk] Marketing Software, Killer App and OHS

on 2002/02/26 10:13 PM, Rod Welch at rowelch@attglobal.net wrote:
> [...]
>> And OHS's largely collaborative focus only amplifies the need for
>> minimal-risk trial, because in order for anyone to genuinely try using it
>> they'll need to have collaborators using it with them, all of whom would
>> need to endorse the risks of money, time, and potential vendor lock-in
>> associated with trying out a proprietary product.
> This point seems to conflict with the record showing Doug Engelbart's goal is
> to
> augment intelligence.  On 010428 Gary Johnson pointed out that intelligence
> begins with individuals....
> http://www.welchco.com/sd/08/00101/02/01/04/08/091208.HTM#L110714
> ...which opens the prospect that individuals can be aided by a KM-type
> technology, without the suggested burden of requiring collaborating
> colleagues. 
> There is undoubtedly significant savings in time and expense from using this
> capability to build and maintain shared meaning through organizational memory
> that reduces bumbling, but this is quite different from the view that OHS/DKR
> entails a bunch of people interacting with a single software program and a
> central server somewhere.    (01)

I think it's worth pursuing this point further, since I agree it is not
nearly as well accepted as most of the others.    (02)

Looking back at "Augmenting Human Intellect", I actually confirmed both your
assertion about Doug's goal(s) and my assertion that the 10X barrier is only
broken through the synergy of augmented collaboration:    (03)

http://www.histech.rwth-aachen.de/www/quellen/engelbart/3examples.html#B.7    (04)

"Remember the term, synergesis, that has been associated in the literature
with general structuring theory? Well, here is something of an example.
Three people working together in this augmented mode seem to be more than
three times as effective in solving a complex problem as is one augmented
person working alone--and perhaps _ten_times_ [emphasis added] as effective
as three similar men working together without this computer-based
augmentation. It is a new and exhiliarating experience to be working in this
independent-parallel fashion with some good men. We feel that the effect of
these augmentation developments upon group methods and group capability is
actually going to be more pronounced than the effect upon individuals
methods and capabilities, and we are very eager to increase our research
effort in that direction."    (05)

Almost spooky, actually...    (06)

>> Furthermore, the improvement to productivity will be greatest between
>> collaborators with the fewest other tools or mechanisms for collaboration at
>> their disposal (such as geographically-dispersed, informally affiliated
>> groups with little budget for clerical and administrative assistance) and
>> who are less worried about missing deadlines than they are about maintaining
>> sustained co-participation despite such resource limitations. In other
>> words, the easiest users to recruit would be among the very most difficult
>> groups of people to win as paying customers.
> Experience seems to show that the biggest improvement to productivity,
> earnings
> and stock prices comes from adding intelligence to management of big
> organizations, because culture that magnifies fear of accountability also
> magnifies bumbling from taking conflicting actions by relying on guess and
> gossip in meetings, cell phones and email. This creates a huge target of
> opportunity for improvement.  Adding just a little intelligence has an
> exponential effect of enabling complementary action, as explained in POIMS....
> http://www.welchco.com/03/00050/01/09/01/02/00030.HTM#8536    (07)

Except that, as you have so tirelessly documented, you wind up stuck in a
Catch-22 in which the ignorance you're trying to address is an overwhelming
impediment to getting it addressed. Again, the challenge isn't just to
identify an opportunity for improvement; nothing happens until the
customer/user _recognizes_ that opportunity and the changes to their working
habits which will realize that improvement.    (08)

To me, the most remarkable thing about the Englebart excerpt above is the
enthusiastic, subjective perception of radical improvement of productivity
in the context of collaboration, despite the professed total lack of
a-priori effort to cultivate it. This is in such striking contrast to your
POIMS/SDS accounts that I'm at a loss to come up with an adequate
explanation for such a phenomenon. Nonetheless, I've experienced the same
subjective difference myself, so I don't doubt the veracity of Doug's
account. And whatever the explanation, I think the phenomenon is something
that can clearly be exploited to help convince people to adapt.
Kevin Keck
510-523-8317    (09)