Dr Doug Engelbart

‘Can a son inherit the Memex of his father, refined and polished over the years, and go on from there? In this way we can avoid some of the loss which comes when oxygen is no longer furnished to the brain of a great thinker…this is an objective of greater importance than the conquest of disease’ Bush 1959, 183

The world has just lost a great thinker. Dr Douglas Engelbart is best known for inventing the computer mouse, but his work and his vision go far deeper than that. Engelbart pioneered many of the key concepts behind modern computing back in the 60′s: the windows, mouse, pointing device environment, hypertext, video conferencing, word processing, split windows, real-time interaction with a computer. He sat up on a conference stage in 1968 and demonstrated for the first time how humans could work interactively at a computer screen, using digital tools to deal with complex
information. But it would be wrong to simply list his technical inventions; what Engelbart was trying to do was to create a new model of the human. He wanted to boost our capacity as human beings, to harness the right tools in the right way to boost our collective IQ. The challenge was grand and important. Augmentation was never just about building new gadgets – it was (and is) about improving our ability to solve problems, improving our ability to
utilize the mass of information we produce as a species. This vision will not be lost to us, but will remain – it is built into the very tools we use to eulogise him.

I had the great privilege of interviewing him in 1999, and I asked him what he was trying to do. He said “we need to think about how to boost our collective IQ, and how important it would be to society because all of the technologies are just going to make our world accelerate faster and we’re not equipped to cope with that complexity”. I still don’t think we’ve arrived at a solution, but the tools Engelbart created in his lifetime have brought us closer. In remembering Engelbart, let us also remember his objective, which is more important than
the tools he engineered along the way: to use technology to boost our capacity as human brings, to make us greater than the sum of our parts.

Lecture series by Ted Nelson (updated)

Are you a Dummy, naive and gullible?
If so, there are thousands of books for
the likes of you.  Go elsewhere, and
drink in the lies called “computer basics”.

But if you are a clever and sophisticated
person who wants to know the real story
of how the computer world works, you
may enjoy some of the insights I present
in this brief series.

• Computers for Cynics 0  - The Myth of Technology

• Computers for Cynics 1 – The Nightmare of Files and Directories

• Computers for Cynics 2 – It All Went Wrong at Xerox PARC

• Computers for Cynics 3 – The Database Mess

• Computers for Cynics 4 – The Dance of Apple and Microsoft

• Computers for Cynics 5 – Hyperhistory

• Computers for Cynics 6 – The Real Story of the World Wide Web

• Computers for Cynics N – CLOSURE: Pay Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain


Stuart Moulthrop Public Lecture, Melbourne Oct 10

Professor Stuart Moulthrop Public Lecture

Make a Better Door: Or, How Does Digital Humanism Humanize?

An interesting image for 2011.
A player/character in the most recent Portal game is literally locked out of her workplace and replaced by a pair of robots. From this resonant image of the human-computer interface a discussion will emerge to do with broader understandings of the digital humanities, media scholarship, and electronic literature. The focus for this approach will be the question famously posed by Richard Lanham’s: “how do the humanities humanize?” Professor Darren Tofts (Swinburne University of Technology) will moderate a conversation with Professor Moulthrop following his presentation.

Date: Monday 10th October, 2011
Time: 6.30-8.30 pm.
Venue: Village Roadshow Theatrette
State Library of Victoria
179 La Trobe Street Melbourne (Conference Centre, Entry 3)
Cost: FREE

Stuart Moulthrop is Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is an electronic literature pioneer, both as a theoretician and as a writer, and has published many of articles on the topic of games, network literature and digital media theory. From 1995-99 he was co-editor of the online journal Postmodern Culture and he is a founding board member of the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO). His hypertext Victory Garden (1992) was featured on the front page of the New York Times Book Review in a (now famous) review by American literary critic Robert Coover. Moulthrop is also the author of the hypertext fiction works Reagan Library (1999), and Hegirascope (1995), amongst many others. His recent work engages with digital games and its interface with media theory, electronic writing and scandal. His current work in progress is “Sc4nda1 in New Media,” an Arcade Essay that converges philosophical meditation with an actual video game. It can be accessed at http://pantherfile.uwm.edu/moulthro/index.htm.

Professor Moulthrop is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Faculty of Life & Social Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, in association with the School of Media and Communication, RMIT.

Please repost wherever you think people might be interested!

Bad housekeeping

My blog’s been hacked! Hahahah. I’m flattered some cute little bot has found the time. If you start getting popup ads for a new weight loss product or sex pill….it’s not me doing it, honestly.

What a waste of time. Have to update everything and change all the passwords again.

G’bye Nelson

Just deposited Ted Nelson and Marlene at the airport. Along with his boxes, sticky notes, holepunch, bags, notebooks, camera, laptop, pens, textas. Tools to connect things with. Hope we can bring him back, and good luck in Sydney :)