7 Matching Annotations
  1. Mar 2019
    1. "Let me mention another bonus feature that wasn't easily fore seen. We have experimented with having several people work together from working stations that can provide inter-communication via their computer or computers. That is, each person is equipped as I am here, with free access to the common working structures.

      I have been reflecting a lot on the state of online education recently. The idea of "free access to common working structures" is alien to most modern Learning Management Systems. At best, they are an afterthought through poorly-designed discussion boards. How did we miss this?

    2. it is likely that any but a general description would be difficult to express in today's terminology.

      We tend to get lost in technology and not what it does for us. This is why people think they can't understand technology. They're missing the point. Their job is probably not to understand technology. It is to understand the problem. Yet, we are constantly distracted by the technology. What Engelbart is doing here is very smart. Joe makes us look at a series of problem sets, not the technology necessary to achieve them. With the massive technological shifts we've experienced over most of our lifetimes it's easy to fall in love with the technology first and then what it can do for us (and its limitations) only comes as an afterthought. As a consequence our relationships with technology often become an exercise in damage control as we try to mash technological solutions onto tasks for which they are ill-suited. This also has the negative side effect of forcing many into an adversarial relationship with their tools and the consequences of using those tools. We then develop a learned helplessness in the face of data analytics, automation, and, most recently, AI. We all could benefit from this kind of Engelbartian flip and I think this forms the core of his vision for augmenting human intellect.**

  2. Feb 2019
    1. system-engineering

      See my comment above.

    2. The writing machine and its flexible copying capability would occupy you for a long time

      Here, he seems to imply that self-augmentation is only the first step and that that augmentation allows you to more freely shape and share those thoughts with the larger network.

    3. process hierarchies.

      One of Engelbart's strengths was his ability to combine engineering, which is often an exercise in detail, with systems thinking. Most of our technological problems today are systemic, not technical. In 1962 they were both but he recognized that to get to system you first had to solve for detail. He got the first part done. We now need to use his tools to solve for the system.

    4. to give direct aid to an individual in comprehending complex situations, isolating the significant factors, and solving problems

      This is where most modern technology deviates from the Engelbartian norm. Instead of broadening our horizons today's platforms often seek to constrain them because it is through constraint that control and profit can be had. Many platforms from Facebook to Learning Management Systems are more interested in locking you into their ecosystems than drinking in the wider panoply of human creativity and knowledge. The more I think about this, the more see evidence of it everywhere in our world today. In education alone, the aforementioned LMSes are being complemented by even more restrictive (and exploitative) textbook publisher "online supplements." I'm hoping both of these are the endgames of obsolete modes of thought but they have sustained themselves long after we wrote them off. I remember Bryan Alexander bemoaning this facet of the LMS as far back as 2006. That was 13 years ago - a geologic era in technology terms - and yet they are still with us.

    5. problems that before seemed insoluble

      Engelbart was confronting challenges that were inherently technical in nature. We have solved, albeit badly, many of those technical problems. The real barrier is humans thinking of the world as still being analog and complex instead of digital and reconfigurable. Global warming cannot be solved in an analog fashion. It is too complex at this stage. Have we sufficiently "augmented human intellect" to stave off extinction? (I know, start with a big question and raise the stakes....)