Meeting Summary & Thoughts, Doug & BCL, Monday August 21, 2000

From: earth (
Date: Fri Aug 25 2000 - 01:00:03 PDT

Sorry about the delay, I am going to be out of town for 10 days
starting saturday and then drowned in backlog for a few days after


I met with Doug on Monday and we spent a couple hours talking
about OHS. Because I only started with the group in June, Doug spent
the initial part of the meeting going over the full history of Doug's
DKR / Augment projects.

He went through some of his powerpoint slides from the colloqium
and helped me understand a lot about his overview vision of
the reasons as well as some of the pitfalls that have hobbled the
development along the way. Pat had given me some background
information before but it was very helpful to get the story from Doug
and Doug is very pleasant to work with, so it seemed to go very

While we were talking, I took some notes, but spent a lot of
my time wondering what would be useful to summarize about what we
talked about. Does everyone have a pretty good sense of the history?
I'll limit it to just a few details.

Doug first started his development of ideas about the iterative co-evolution
of tools and processes in the late 50s and in 1962 produced the paper
"Augmenting Human Intellect" which is available at:

>From there Doug started actually working with software & computer
designers through the 60s and had in the late 1960s an initial
version of Augment.

Each step of development ran into a wall at some point or another
due to odd corporate and larger processes, but Doug has continued
to champion his cause and kept developing the ideas throughout
the last 40 years.

We talked a little about the problem of having much of the
software developed to reduce the slope of learning curves with
little or no attention on what 'expert use' is like. For tools that
I use every day, I want to learn the most efficient way of
using them and I am constantly annoyed by the lack of direct-key
access to commands or the layout of menus which seem designed
for someone else. Doug shared this frustration.

We then spent some time talking about current technologies and
I showed Doug a quick introduction to Javascript and talked a little
about some of the limitations of javascript versus java for the
a thin client. One question Doug had that I couldn't answer is
whether any current javascript DOM allows javascript to find out what
text is selected by the mouse. Obviously javascript is a
very limited language for attempting to implement any serious
Augment candidate, but its an extremely light way to
implement some concepts.

One of the elements of the discussion which surprised me was
that Doug said that he had not been planning on any actual coding
development happen before some financing for the project had
been secured. Although I think that the project will get funding
soon, this seemed somewhat different than what I had understood
to be happening. Doug said he was willing to rethink that, but I
mostly thought it was good to get his view of it explicit so that
it could be discussed if necessary.

Thats about it for the summary.

For my thoughts:

I think the history of the project may have some lessons we
can learn, but I suspect each of us may take away different lessons.
I believe that Doug's project has generated a number of good
concepts, 'technologies', and core designs that can be implemented
as is.

I think that one way to approach the problem of how to implement
technologies and instantiate ideas in a way that won't become
dead ends is to do 3 things (this may be exactly what is happening
and is not intended to be novel):

1) create pseudocode, englishy-code object descriptions, and
technical documentation.

2) instantiate OHS Email Gateway V1 using some of the key features,
with the intention to create something quickly, something light, and
something that can act as a world-useable strawperson to beat up
and use as a launching point for future instantiations. I am pretty
sure this is happening already.

  The work on the OHS Email Gateway V1 does not interfere with
more generic and higher level pseudocode object definitions
which can then act as templates for implementing wider and
wider sets of Augment functionality in various environments.

3) Documentation & publication. Continue to write documentation
for each individual innovation and index the documentation well so
that it can be archived, indexed, etc. This includes trying to
write some pseudo code, a technical description, and an executive
summary indicating what value it adds to the world and how.

I think that this process can bootstrap the ideas in the current
context / climate to get them out and being used and getting additional
groups developing instantiations of the many feature ideas.

so, thems my thoughts. I will be back in September. Feel free
to complete the revolution in my absence.


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