[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] Indexes: Main | Date | Thread | Author

[ba-ohs-talk] We the Networked People....

I came across this recent post related to Doug’s World Library Summit talk and thought it might be interesting for some on this list. For those of you who weren’t on the list in April last year, Henry van Eyken has posted the entire talk at http://www.fleabyte.org/eic-11.html ) , Thank you for continuing to make it available to everyone, Henry!



We the Networked People
By Jim Downing April 10th 2003

Douglas Engelbart, the man that invented the computer mouse, wrote a paper in 1962 entitled “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework” Taking Vannevar Bush’s idea of the mind working by association where:

“We refer to a way of life in an integrated domain where hunches, cut-and-try, intangibles, and the human "feel for a situation" usefully co-exist with powerful concepts, streamlined terminology and notation, sophisticated methods, and high-powered electronic aids.”

He calls for man's intellect to be augmented by computers.

“Man's population and gross product are increasing at a considerable rate, but the complexity of his problems grows still faster, and the urgency with which solutions must be found becomes steadily greater in response to the increased rate of activity and the increasingly global nature of that activity. Augmenting man's intellect, in the sense defined above, would warrant full pursuit by an enlightened society if there could be shown a reasonable approach and some plausible benefits. “

In April last year delivering the keynote address to the World Library Summit held in Singapore Engelbart continued his vision for computers to augment what people do, which he has had for over 50 years. At the core of this vision lies the idea that people can make use of computers to work collaboratively together to solve complex problems, something which is going on everyday with people using the internet.
“So, it is not the computer, working alone, that produces a solution. It is the combination of people, augmented by computers. The key word here is "augment." The reason I was interested in interactive computing, even before we knew what that might mean, arose from this conviction that we would be able to solve really difficult problems only through using computers to extend the capability of people to collect information, create knowledge, manipulate and share it, and then to put that knowledge to work. Just as the tractor extends the human's ability to work the earth, and planes extend our ability to move, so does the computer extend our ability to process and use knowledge. And that knowledge production is a group activity, not an individual one. Computers most radically and usefully extend our capabilities when they extend our ability to collaborate to solve problems beyond the compass of any single human mind..”
Englebart 2002)
With the arrival of the Internet it would seem that much of Engelbart's vision has been realized. Yet at it’s core the ideas of his work on "augmentation" remain unrealized. The personal computer has allowed us to work better, but we still work, for the most part, alone. Today's computers and the internet and the World Wide Web are advances, but the challenges still remain. My area of study would be to explore how the internet can be used to increase co-operation amongst people. Cooperation amplification if you like.

….. (MLF: it goes on to reflect on other ideas that extend this line of thought.)



Mei Lin Fung