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Engelbart’s Violin

And boy, what a symphonies did it bring us.

“In the mind of today’s technological entrepreneur, the ideal user (and employee) is semi-skilled – or unskilled entirely. The ideal user interface for such a person never rewards learning or experience when doing so would come at the cost of immediate accessibility to the neophyte. This design philosophy is a mistake – a catastrophic, civilization-level mistake. There is a place in the world for the violin as well as the kazoo. Modern computer engineering is kazoo-only, and keyboards are only the most banal example of this fact. Far more serious – though less obvious – problems of this kind tie our hands and wastefully burn our ‘brain cycles’. Professional equipment, whose mastery requires dedication and mental flexibility, may not be appropriate for casual users. But surely it is appropriate – in fact, necessary – for professionals? Just why is this idea confined to crackpots shouting in the wilderness? I hope to learn a definitive answer to this conundrum some day.”

(Stanislav Datskovskiy ~ Loper OS)

Shift Happens

Always been a great admirer of Thomas Kuhn.

“The problems that dominated Kuhn’s life after his great moment of insight arose not because Kuhn wasn’t brilliant enough. Rather, they arose and persist because while we increasingly understand that the old metaphysical paradigm has failed, for several generations now we have not found our new paradigm. Our culture has inappropriately latched on to Kuhn’s message as an exaltation of the rootless disconnection of our ideas from the world because we were ready to hear that knowledge is not apart from our knowing of it. But he and we have not yet come to a new shared understanding about what it means to live truthfully as humans.”

(David Weinberger a.k.a. @dweinberger)

Honoring and supporting Belgian Internet pioneers

Justice will be done to those with universal ideas and visions.

“Decades before the creation of the World Wide Web, Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine envisaged a paper archival system of the world’s information. They built a giant international documentation centre called Mundaneum, with the goal of preserving peace by assembling knowledge and making it accessible to the entire world. For us at Google, this mission sounds familiar.”

(Google | Official blog)

Information Overload Is Not Unique To Digital Age

I’m always thrilled when new historical connections are found.

“It is a constant complaint: We’re choking on information. The flood of data on the Web has reached mind boggling proportions, and it shows no signs of stopping. But wait, says Harvard professor Ann Blair – this is not a new condition. It’s been part of the human experience for centuries.”

(Ann Blair ~ NPR)

How the Knowledge Navigator video came about

Great read about the making of the iconic vision video by AAPL.

“Sparked by the introduction of Siri, as well as products such as iPad and Skype, there have been many recent posts and articles tracing the technologies back to a 1987 Apple video called Knowledge Navigator. The video simulated an intelligent personal agent, video chat, linked databases and shared simulations, a digital network of university libraries, networked collaboration, and integrated multimedia and hypertext, in most case decades before they were commercially available. Having been involved in making Knowledge Navigator with some enormously talented Apple colleagues, I thought I would correct the record once and for all about what really happened.”

(Bud Colligan a.k.a. @collbud ~ Dubberly Design Office)

Networked Knowledge, Decades Before Google

Great reference article to pass around. The more Otlet, the better.

“He dreamed of a ‘mechanical, collective brain’ and his complex system for indexing information could be considered an analog version of Google. Belgian lawyer and librarian Paul Otlet died in 1944, poor and disillusioned. But his work is now being looked at in a whole new light.”

(Meike Laaff ~ Der Spiegel)

Origins of the Apple Human Interface

A first hand recollection of ideas, concepts, and prototypes.

This is a verbatim transcript of a public lecture given on October 28, 1997. ~ “We got clearance, thankfully, from the Apple lawyers, which came about two – three weeks ago, so we could give it here, just in time to announce it. We’re grateful to Apple to release this for public disclosure, because we think it’s of general interest.”

(Larry Tesler a.k.a. @nomodes and Chris Espinosa a.k.a. @cdespinosa)

Classic: Electric Word, July 1990 (.pdf)

The Least Boring Computer Magazine In The World ~ “It’s always a crap shoot, you never know how an issue is going to turn out.Just coordinating all the elements is a task only slightly less humbling than trying to align all the planets. No wonder it’s become a standing joke around the EW office: that moment each issue when we start laying out pages and I get to see the magazine in its final form for the first time, when I proclaim in genuine surprise, hey, this issue isn’t so bad – in fact, it’s even better than the last. What makes it doubly gratifying this time is that this is the first issue of the rest of our lives. Thirty six months and two publishers later, ElectricWord is independent.”

(Louis Rosetto) ~ courtesy of johnrynne

The Untold Story of How My Dad Helped Invent the First Mac

“Jef Raskin, my father, helped develop the Macintosh, and I was recently looking at some of his old documents and came across his February 16, 1981 memo detailing the genesis of the Macintosh. It was written in reaction to Steve Jobs taking over managing hardware development. Reading through it, I was struck by a number of the core principals Apple now holds that were set in play three years before the Macintosh was released. Much of this is particularly important in understanding Apple’s culture and why we have the walled-garden experience of the iPhone, iPad, and the App Store.” (Aza Raskin)

The MIT/Brown Vannevar Bush Symposium (1995)

“The MIT/Brown Vannevar Bush Symposium was held October 12-13, 1995, at MIT, marking the 50th anniversary of Vannevar Bush’s seminal article “As We May Think” (Atlantic Monthly, July 1945). The video archives from the lectures and panel discussions from that Symposium are now available online as part of the Doug Engelbart Archives collection at the Internet Archive as follows. Refer to Symposium program for title and abstract for each talk, as well as speaker bios, and panel notes; speakers’ slides were captured but can no longer be viewed.” (Douglas Engelbart Institute)

WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a HyperText Project

“HyperText is a way to link and access information of various kinds as a web of nodes in which the user can browse at will. Potentially, HyperText provides a single user-interface to many large classes of stored information such as reports, notes, data-bases, computer documentation and on-line systems help. We propose the implementation of a simple scheme to incorporate several different servers of machine-stored information already available at CERN, including an analysis of the requirements for information access needs by experiments.” (Tim Berners-Lee ~ November 12, 1990)

Inside The Mundaneum

“On the night of June 1, 1934, a Belgian information scientist named Paul Otlet sat in silent, peaceful protest outside the locked doors of a government building in Brussels from which he had just been evicted. Inside was his life’s work: a vast archive of more than twelve million bibliographic three-by-five-inch index cards, which attempted to catalog and cross-reference the relationships among all the world’s published information. For Otlet, the archive was at the center of a plan to universalize human knowledge. He called it the Mundaneum, and he believed it would usher in a new era of peace and progress. The Belgian government, however, had come to view Otlet and his fine mess of papers, dusty boxes, and customized filing cabinets as a financial and political nuisance.” (Molly Springfield ~ Triple Canopy)

Invisible Revolution

“(…) the story of Doug Engelbart, the man who invented much of the information environment we live in today – the computer mouse, word processing, email, hypertext and so on. In short: Interactive computing. This is his story, and the story of his fellow dreamers, thinkers, doers – revolutionaries – who changed our lives forever.” (Frode Hegland & Fleur Klijnsma)

Web 2.0 and the Semantic Web in Research from a Historical Perspective PDF Logo

Pre-publication – The designs of Paul Otlet (1868-1944) for telecommunication and machine readable documentation to organize research and society – “At the end of the nineteenth and in the first decades of the twentieth century various European scholars, like Patrick Geddes, Paul Otlet, Otto Neurath, Wilhelm Ostwald explored the organisation, enrichment and dissemination of knowledge on a global level to come to a peaceful, universal society. We focus on Paul Otlet (1868-1944) who developed a knowledge infrastructure to update information mechanically and manually in collaboratories of scholars. First the Understanding Infrastructure (2007) report, that Paul N. Edwards et al. wrote on behalf of NSF, will be used to position Otlet’s knowledge organization in their sketched development from information systems to information internetworks or webs. Secondly, the relevance of Otlet’s knowledge infrastructure will be assessed for Web 2.0 and Semantic Web applications for research. The hypothesis will be put forward that the instruments and protocols envisioned by Otlet to enhance collaborative knowledge production, can still be relevant for current conceptualizations of ‘scientific authority’ in data sharing and annotation in Web 2.0 applications and the modeling of the Semantic Web.” (Charles van den Heuvel in: Knowledge Organization, 36 (4) 214-226)

Building Society, Constructing Knowledge, Weaving the Web PDF Logo

Pre-publication – Otlet’s Visualizations of a Global Information Society and His Concept of a Universal Civilization – “I have discussed at such length Berners-Lee’s Weaving the Web in order to compare the US-oriented views of the history and future of the World Wide Web, as its proclaimed inventor expressed them toward the end of the twentieth century, with the ideas explored 50 years or more earlier by Paul Otlet and his colleagues about knowledge organization on a global level. My aim is to try to show how some of the issues that were important in explaining the origin of the World Wide Web and in predicting its future were already being explored at the beginning of the twentieth century by a number of European pioneers, who proposed similar solutions and encountered similar problems to Berners-Lee.” (Charles van den Heuvel in W. Boy Rayward [ed.] European Modernism and the Information Society, pp 127-153)

Dec. 10, 1944: Web Visionary Passes Into Obscurity

“Some historians see in Otlet’s work a prototype of the World Wide Web and the hyperlink. Although unsuccessful, it was one of the first known attempts to provide a framework for connecting all recorded culture by creating flexible links that could rapidly lead researchers from one document to another — and perhaps make audible the previously unheard echoes between them. Anticipating postmodern literary theory, Otlet posited that documents have meaning not as individual texts, but only in relationship to each other.” (Wired) – courtesy of lievenbaeten