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The secret history of hypertext: The conventional history of computing leaves out some key thinkers

Great to see this article appear in the publication where it all started, according to US history. Finally, some historical truth being added.

“Historians of technology often cite Bush’s essay as the conceptual forerunner of the Web. And hypertext pioneers like Douglas Engelbart, Ted Nelson, and Tim Berners-Lee have all acknowledged their debt to Bush’s vision. But for all his lasting influence, Bush was not the first person to imagine something like the Web. (…) For all his remarkable prescience, Bush never predicted anything like the Internet. That credit rightly goes to Otlet.”

(Alex Wright a.k.a. @alexgrantwright ~ The Atlantic)

Organizing the world: How hypermedia looked in 1934

So pleased with this information graphics from Paula and her team.

“Sharing the dream of Paul Otlet about Mundaneum – a kind of
hypermedia system that allowed the management and sharing of all human knowledge in the 30’s. (…) Systems, principles and machines created by Otlet and La Fontaine to organize the huge documents and index cards in the RBU. The creation of a highly flexible language management system for databases: The Universal Decimal Classification (UCD), the first modern faceted classification system, in opposition of Melvil Dewey’s Decimal Classification.”

(Paula Azevedo Macedo a.k.a. @paulamacedo, Seth Pérez, and Larissa Braga)

The woman behind Apple’s first icons

Honoring our historical roots is what makes us more mature as a relevant domain in world history. Even though is still three decades old, sort of.

“Thirty years ago, as tech titans battled for real estate in the personal computer market, an inconspicuous young artist gave the Macintosh a smile. Susan Kare was the type of kid who always loved art. As a child, she lost herself in drawings, paintings, and crafts; as a young woman, she dove into art history and had grandeur dreams of being a world-renowned fine artist.”

(Zachary Crockett a.k.a. @zzcrockett ~ Priceonomics)

Fritz Kahn: The little-known godfather of infographics

Every current field has its longtime history. You should only look for connections, inspiration and influences.

“Around the time when Austrian sociologist, philosopher, and curator Otto Neurath was building his ISOTYPE visual language, which laid the foundation for pictogram-based infographics, another infographic pioneer was doing something even more ambitious: The German polymath Fritz Kahn – amateur astronomer, medical scientist by training, gynecologist by early occupation, artist by inclination, writer, educator and humanist by calling – was developing innovative visual metaphors for understanding science and the human body, seeking to strip scientific ideas of their alienating complexity and engage a popular audience with those essential tenets of how life works.”

(Maria Popova ~ Brainpickings)

Intuitive equals familiar

How qualities of UIs become used in UX.

“One of the most common terms of praise for an interface is to say that it is “intuitive” (the word should have been “intuitable” but we will bow to convention). Yet the Human Computer Interaction (HCI) literature rarely mentions the word, and for good reason. This note attempts to clarify the meaning of “intuitive” for non-HCI specialists.”

(Jef Raskin 1994)

Douglas Engelbart’s unfinished revolution

History will show the meaning of some people, not today.

Computing pioneer Doug Engelbart’s inventions transformed computing, but he intended them to transform humans. ~ “(…) Engelbart never sought to own what he contributed to the world’s ability to know. But he was frustrated to the end by the way so many people had adopted, developed, and profited from the digital media he had helped create, while failing to pursue the important tasks he had created them to do.”

(Howard Rheingold a.k.a. @hrheingold ~ MIT Technology Review)

The message gets the medium it deserves

I have always been fascinated about how the unique characteristics of a medium define its design space.

“I see this as a core principle of higher order UX; to use the medium in such a way that the medium facilitates the delivery of the message instead of polluting it. It’s that pollution that brings about unanticipated consequences in what the user experiences. This is just as much a holistic experience problem as well as a nitty-gritty design and interaction problem.”

(Erik Flowers a.k.a. @Erik_UX)

The hut where the internet began

Same magazine as ‘As We May Think’. No coincidence.

“In a hut like this — and maybe even one of these huts specifically — Engelbart opened up that issue of LIFE and read Bush’s Atlantic article. The ideas in the story plowed new intellectual terrain for Engelbart, and the seeds that he planted and nurtured there over the next twenty years grew, with the help of millions of others, into the Internet you see today.”

(The Atlantic)

The WorldWideWeb is a wide-area hypermedia information retrieval initiative

A proposal which changed the world forever.

“The WWW project merges the techniques of information retrieval and hypertext to make an easy but powerful global information system. The project is based on the philosophy that much academic information should be freely available to anyone. It aims to allow information sharing within internationally dispersed teams, and the dissemination of information by support groups. Originally aimed at the High Energy Physics community, it has spread to other areas and attracted much interest in user support, resource discovery and collaborative work areas.”

(CERN)

40 years of icons: The evolution of the modern computer interface

Knowing where you come from is a great foundation.

“The greatest thing is that this has sort of become a sandbox for the mind. It’s a medium, not just a calculating machine. We now have this thing in front of us, it allows us to paint, to write, to listen to music. It mesmerizes us and steals our lives. I think it is the invention of the last 500 years. And we’re waiting to see what it does next.”

(Jesse Hicks a.k.a. @jessehixxx ~ The Verge)

“The music is not in the piano”

One of the giants on whom’s shoulders we stand.

Interview with computing pioneer Alan Kay ~ “One way to think of all of these organizations is to realize that if they require a charismatic leader who will shoot people in the knees when needed, then the corporate organization and process is a failure. It means no group can come up with a good decision and make it stick just because it is a good idea. All the companies I’ve worked for have this deep problem of devolving to something like the hunting and gathering cultures of 100,000 years ago. If businesses could find a way to invent “agriculture” we could put the world back together and all would prosper.”

(David Greelish ~ Techland)

The lady and the antelope: Suzanne Briet’s contribution to the French Documentation Movement

Remarkable woman in the Paul Otlet trajectory.

“During her thirty years at the Bibliothèque Nationale (BN), Suzanne Briet (1894-1989) made important theoretical, organizational, and institutional contributions to the documentation movement in France. This paper attempts to place her documentation work within the context of the far-reaching reform of French libraries, with special attention to the transformation of the BN. Like her colleagues in special libraries, Briet embraced modernity and science. However, because of her strong orientation toward humanistic scholarship, she viewed documentation service and bibliographic orientation as an enhancement rather than a rejection of the scholarly traditions of the national library. This paper will focus on her efforts to integrate the innovative ideas of the documentation movement into the practice of librarianship at the Bibliothèque Nationale.”

(Mary Niles Maack)

The origins of the internet in Europe (1895-2013): Collecting, indexing & sharing knowledge

Have I been waiting for this one.

“Brussels, Belgium, Europe, 1895: two men shared a dream of ‘indexing and classifying the world’s information’. Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine’s work foreshadowed the network of knowledge that a century later became the Internet with its search engines! Otlet and La Fontaine aimed to preserve peace by assembling knowledge and making it accessible to the entire world. They built an international documentation center called Mundaneum. They invented the modern library Universal Decimal Classification system. La Fontaine won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1913. By 1935, their Mundaneum grew to a staggering 16 million cards covering subjects ranging from the history of hunting dogs to finance! World War II and the death of both founders slowed down the project. Although many Mundaneum archives were stored away, some even in the Brussels subway, volunteers kept the dream alive. The French community government of Belgium brought most of the archives to a beautiful Art Deco building in the heart of Mons near Brussels.”

(Google Cultural Institute)

Man-Computer Symbiosis

One of the giants on whose shoulders we (HCI) stand.

“Man-computer symbiosis is an expected development in cooperative interaction between men and electronic computers. It will involve very close coupling between the human and the electronic members of the partnership. The main aims are (1) to let computers facilitate formulative thinking as they now facilitate the solution of formulated problems, and (2) to enable men and computers to cooperate in making decisions and controlling complex situations without inflexible dependence on predetermined programs. In the anticipated symbiotic partnership, men will set the goals, formulate the hypotheses, determine the criteria, and perform the evaluations. Computing machines will do the routinizable work that must be done to prepare the way for insights and decisions in technical and scientific thinking. Preliminary analyses indicate that the symbiotic partnership will perform intellectual operations much more effectively than man alone can perform them. Prerequisites for the achievement of the effective, cooperative association include developments in computer time sharing, in memory components, in memory organization, in programming languages, and in input and output equipment.”

(J.C.R. Licklider a.k.a. Lick, 1960)

Bill Moggridge 1943-2012

Paying tribute to one of our founding fathers.

“A tribute to esteemed museum director Bill Moggridge, who passed away on September 8, 2012 following a battle with cancer. Hear about his pioneering work and influence in the field of design from Tim Brown and David Kelley of IDEO, Bernie Roth of Stanford University and Caroline Baumann and Cara McCarty of Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.”

(Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum)

Designing Services That Deliver PDF Logo

The founding article (1984) of Service Design and service blueprints.

“Faced with service problems, we tend to become somewhat paranoid. Customers are convinced that someone is treating them badly; managers think that recalcitrant individual employees are the source of the malfunction. Thinly veiled threats by customers and managers are often first attempts to remedy the problem; if they fail, confrontation may result.”

(G. Lynn Shostack)