Annotate and Augment: The Engelbart Framework Project

Originally published at framework – Gardner Writes (see it there)

Annotating Engelbart's 1962 Framework

This February, 2019, join us as together we read and annotate three crucial parts of Doug Engelbart’s 1962 research report and manifesto, Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework. (New to the document? See “About Augmenting Human Intelllect: A Conceptual Framework, below. To go even deeper, see Christina Engelbart’s invaluable “Field Guide to Doug’s 1962 Framework.”)

Our annotations—responses, questions, conversations—will use the 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.”

Some specifics, including the schedule:

  • We’ll annotate the copy of Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework reprinted on the Engelbart Institute website: .
  • While our annotations will be public, we’ll be able to indicate our relationship to Engelbart and his work by tagging our annotations and replies. For example: #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:

Orientation Week, February 4-10, will provide opportunities to experiment with and web annotation, and help readers come up to speed with the platform and the project.

February 11-17 is Week One.  We’ll focus our annotations on Section I A & B, Engelbart’s introduction to the entire report.

February 18-24 is Week Two. 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.”

February 25-March 3 is Week Three. 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 event is just the beginning of the Engelbart Framework Project, with more opportunities for learning and conversation to come. For more details about this event, and for resources emerging from the event, see the Framework Project website at You can also sign up for email updates at the project website. If you have questions, please contact Gardner Campbell: gardner.campbell AT (substitute @ for AT). We look forward to your insights!

Heartfelt thanks to colleague and collaborator extraodinare 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. 


About Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework

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 presented an 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.

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.