This February 2019, join us as we collaboratively read and collectively annotate three crucial parts of Doug Engelbart’s 1962 research report and manifesto, Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework.
Doug Engelbart’s 1962 manifesto offers a unique, multidisciplinary perspective on how human ingenuity, in symbiosis with networked digital computing technologies, might enlarge human capability and help address humanity’s most urgent problems.
People who have heard of Douglas Carl Engelbart probably know that he invented the computer mouse. They may have heard of the 1968 “Mother Of All Demos” in which Engelbart and his Augmentation Research Center colleagues presented a comprehensive, interactive human-computer co-evolutionary environment to an auditorium of astonished engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists, all of whom gave Engelbart and his team a sustained standing ovation for this glimpse of a future we have yet to inhabit fully.
But even those who know the name “Doug Engelbart” may not know the demo before the demo, the research report Engelbart described as “the public debut of a dream”: a nearly 150-page monograph titled Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework, published in October, 1962 (to go even deeper, see Christina Engelbart’s invaluable “Field Guide to Doug’s 1962 Framework”).
In February, 2019 join us as together we read and annotate three crucial parts of this work. This project seeks to bring Engelbart’s 1962 manifesto back into view, and to encourage close, hospitable (though not uncritical) attention to its central ideas and Engelbart’s unusually varied strategies of analysis, argument, and description. The fruit of over a decade of intense reading, thought, and writing, Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework deserves our full attention, especially at a time when many (perhaps most) computer technologies appear untethered to any philosophy besides the pursuit of maximum profit.
Engelbart’s dream was different. He believed that networked computing could empower collective intelligence, offering humanity a way to address complex problems together. Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework insists that benign, liberatory collective intelligence is not only possible but urgently necessary. And it seeks to demonstrate that an “integrated domain” of human-computer co-evolution was the most powerful means human beings had yet devised to permit their intellectual capabilities to solve problems faster than they invent them.
By “augmenting” the research paper collectively through web annotation tools, this project seeks to bring Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework into the primary place of study and discussion where it belongs.
Our annotations— responses, questions, conversations— will use the Hypothes.is annotation platform. As described on their website, the annotation platform is free, open source software “based on the annotation standards for digital documents developed by the W3C Web Annotation Working Group.”
Welcome to the Project
Gardner Campbell and Alan Levine discuss the ideas and planning involved in the project.
What We Will Do
- We will annotate the copy of Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework reprinted on the Engelbart Institute website.
- We encourage annotators to indicate their relationship to Engelbart and his work by tagging annotations and replies. Some suggested tags may, but are not limited to, include: #SRI (colleagues from the Stanford Research Institute), #ARC (colleagues from the Augmentation Research Center), #NIC (colleagues from the Network Information Center). #PARC (staff at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center), #DEI (Doug Engelbart Institute), #scholar, #student, etc. Multiple tags can be used to indicate multiple relationships, as will often be the case.
- We welcome thoughtful annotations from all readers. Each week, several featured annotators will describe their annotations, and their relationships with Engelbart and his work, in special video interviews that will be posted to the Framework Project channel on YouTube and aggregated on this site.
Schedule of Activities
- Week February 4-10, is an orientation to the project and tools. It will provide opportunities to experiment with hypothes.is and web annotation, and help participants come up to speed with the platform and the project. Our first activity will be annotating this web page itself, as a place to introduce yourselves, and comment on the project.
- Week February 11-17. We’ll focus our annotations on Section I A & B, Engelbart’s introduction to the entire report.
- Week February 18-24. This week focuses on a section describing the framework itself, along with Engelbart’s analysis of a similar project outlined in Vannevar Bush’s essay “As We May Think.”
- Week February 25-March 3. We’ll conclude this initial annotation project by looking at a long and very unusual section from the 1962 report that’s often referred to as the “Joe” section. Part Platonic dialogue, part short story, part shop talk, this section imagines “Joe,” an intellectual worker of the future, demonstrating Engelbart’s imagined computing environment to a sympathetic observer who’s also somewhat skeptical and at times more than a little baffled by the futuristic scenario he is “witnessing.”
This February 2019 event is just the beginning of the Engelbart Framework Project, with more opportunities for learning and conversation to come.
If you have questions, please contact Gardner Campbell: gardner.campbell AT gmail.com (substitute @ for AT). We look forward to your insights!
Heartfelt thanks to colleague and collaborator extraodinaire Alan Levine for all his help with project planning and website development, and especially to Christina Engelbart, Executive Director of the Doug Engelbart Institute, for her constant encouragement, inspiration, and support for this and many other projects.