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In reference to Mei Lin's message below, I'd like to share four aphorisms which help to guide our work on the World Wide Outline project - perhaps they may be helpful in this context as well:
1. When In doubt, prototype. (prototype -> prototype -> prototype)
2. Anything worth doing, is worth doing lousey (initially).
3. Fail forward!
4. "True development puts first those that society puts last." - Gandhi
Brief elaboration on point one: Experience - like Lewis and Clark exploring the U.S. west as in the Mei Lin's parable below - can teach us what our reason or imagination cannot envision. As a trained social scientist and social organizer - and a selfmade tech-freak - I think there is no substitute for experimentation and experience, whether in building new social systems or new technical ones (here, I think, we are trying to do both!)
Cordially, Eric Sommer
Think about two people trying to get to the West Coast in the early 19th
century (Lewis & Clark for example).
Lewis has some ideas about how to get across.
So does Clark.
They are not all the same ideas. Neither of them knows enough about what
they are up against to know that their plan is the right one, with any
It doesn't work for Lewis to say: I'm the leader so do what I say.
He doesn't know enough. It is helpful to have an evolving plan for how
to get across, informed by more than 1 intelligent and resourceful
They plot a path, maybe its informed more by one persons ideas when
going across Wyoming. Maybe its informed more by the other, to get
By perserverance, luck, and all kinds of other miracles. They make it.
So, that's how I see Doug's view:
There are the experts on the Tool Systems.
There are the experts on the Human Systems.
They both know how to do some sorts of things.
Neither knows how to create the Capability Infrastructure for
improvement for masses of illogical humans to deploy gobs of technology.
So they try a few steps. Pause. Evaluate where they've got to.
Plot the next step. Pause. Evaluate where they've got to. Iterate.
It's ok that its not all a technology solution.
Its ok that its not all a human solution.
In fact, its better that neither dominate absolutely.
Because neither would get us as far as we could go, if we co-evolve the
Its frightening, because there is a leap of faith involved whenever
someone leaves their domain of expertise. So working out how to reduce
the risk of taking steps into the unknown is an important expertise to
acquire along the way. But that comes later.....
One of the critical first steps is to have a language and vocabulary to
"plot the next steps" with.
[mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Peter Jones
Sent: Monday, October 07, 2002 4:06 PM
Subject: Re: Cultural v. Technical Solutions [was Re: [ba-unrev-talk]
Re: Just the facts.]
> Shall I infer that your point would be:
> Doug Engelbart's vision of coupling masses of illogical humans to gobs
> technology doesn't have a prayer of achieving anything sufficiently
> to be able to judge the effort worthwhile? (being somewhat akin to
> Gerald's earlier comments).
[pj] No, that's absolutely not what I'm saying. I'm saying the tech
needs to be
bent to fit more. I believe that's in line with Doug's thinking (??).