Doug's "solution scale" and Bootstrap website (Was: PLink availability/feature requests)

From: Henry van Eyken (
Date: Sat Apr 14 2001 - 05:47:30 PDT

Clipped from unedited version of a transcript from Doug Engelbart's seventh lecture of
the Colloquium at Stanford:

You may remember that during our first session we had a presentation about the
millennium project, the thing about the United Nations University that they sponsor.
There they pointed out after three or four years of work with collective people around
the world, they evolved fifteen grand challenges that mankind is facing at the
beginning of the millennium. Any one of those you can plainly see that it will talk a
huge collection of people to be involved in finding a solution. That was done on
purpose to put that out there.

  Orienting for huge "solution scale"

       Recall early introduction of Millennium Project's Global Challenges.
       We'll persist in assuming that UnRev can succeed only with a strategic approach
appropriate for ...
       Multidimensional challenges of very large scale.

We know that none of us is equipped right now to take care of that. If there is going
to be a meaningful strategy that will get mankind ready, you have to have a strategy
that can climb towards handling that kind of scale. So, I want to review the aspects
of scaling that we talk about. We will go through a number of talks that have some
relevance to it. Iíll try and tie in the relevance, or maybe I will leave it up to
the speaker. This "Unfinished Revolution", the only assumption that I can make is that
it cannot succeed unless there is a strategic approach that is appropriate for
handling the scale.

We want to talk about these different issues of scale. Multi-dimensional challenges
means that they donít involve a large this, but a large this and this, all coordinated
in their complexity and size. It is a very large-scale issue when you combine a lot of
large-scale things in an interactive process. We will talk about the different
dimensions that you will address the scalability with.

     Scaling here will involve ranging along several "dimensions," e.g.

       Dimension of "detail," e.g. from
       - From detailed attention to more-effective symbolic
       representation of our concepts;
       - To accurately summarizing intensive, long-lasting,
       comprehensive dialog about the largest of our global
       Dimension of "organizational size," e.g.:
       - From the personal DKR of one human being;
       - To the DKR of tomorrow's United Nations.

One dimensions is detail. From detailed attention to more effective symbolic
representation of our concepts. To keep things, I found some really interesting
communities out there that have been dealing since the turn of the century and beyond
about the ways, which our conceptual machine better folds, its self around the
symbols and arguments that are there. We have options with the technology, to really
interface much more effectively what the very bare bones capabilities that we humans

Another dimension is organizational size. That is the one that people usually look at.
The detail goes from very detailed thatís how the human is working. That is cognitive
and sensory, perceptual, and emotional. That is the bigger part of your brain works as
things that you are unconscious with. That all factors into the things. Then the
dimensional organizational size. All the way from key individuals all the way to the
biggest collection of parties that have to deal with carefully complex problems in an
international setting. So, the scale of the number of people involved has to pass and
operate at every scale level in-between. As well as every level of the detail in the
human process on the way up to the group process.

    Scaling in the dimension of time

       From very slowly maturing domains -- e.g.
       To fast-breaking, multi-facetted, multi-national

There is another one, scaling the dimensions of time. Some things are slow and complex
to deal with. Other things are complex and there isnít much time. So, the time scale
is another factor. Itís all those kinds of scales that if humans are going to be able
to develop their collective capabilities much more effectively to deal with their
complex urgent problems. It has to handle the type of scaling that we are talking
about here. So, the strategy about that is that you have to start some place. The
framework that we have evolved is that you start with something that you can get a
hold of and you have to have an evolutionary strategy about it that can gradually
handle more and more of the scope that you are dealing with. This is what perplexes
some people when you talk about the changes in the software, the tool system. Some
changes are important to inaugurate early because they will make a big difference in
how you can do the co-evolution of other things that have to be evolved. At the same
time, we have found a small group of people in technology who want to do something.
Thatís great. Build that up. They have to be balanced by people who are starting to
grow that are dealing with other factors like the human system. The methods,
conventions, and the roles that go on inside the organizations that has to get
involved by people that are interested in evolving better ways in those factors. So
they are already co-evolving. So that getting an environment for co-evolution is a
very key thing that might be done earliest with not very many communities learning how
to do it. But picking those communities is a very strategic.


The book "Where on Earth are we going?" by Maurice Strong provides a great deal of
insight into what it takes to get mankind ready. The book "Going inside" by John
McCrone brings us close to a grasp of the current state of neuroscience. These books
provide important substance for improving our insights. That is why I recommended

In addition to the co-evolutionary process that Doug is talking about, Maurice Strong
brings up an additional point: the need for change in attitudes. Let's contemplate
that notion, change of attitudes. Our attitudes vary much in how deepseated they are.
Some societal attitudes may change within people's lifetimes, others are inculcated so
deeply (genes, upbringing) that they are almost unchangeable. It is a subject that
leaders, scribes, educators, media, the judiciary, etc. must give priority attention
to because - as I sense it - it takes longer to change attitudes than the time we
appear to have left for those changing attitudes to do mankind much good.

I had hoped that the Bootstrap site might be made soon sufficiently exemplary and
sufficiently efficient for us to present a reasoned, compelling approach to how our
attitudes should change. To fertilize the soil. This, it seems to me, would best
include putting the spotlight on the pieces that make up scale of things Doug is
talking about so that once Doug's critical missing piece (OHS) is ready we need lose
less time in putting it to good use.

Some things can only be done sequentially, but others (such as "scouting the
frontiers") can well be done simultaneously, thereby shortening the time for the
sequence to play itself out. It would be helpful here if the Bootstrap site's
webmaster were able to do his job more efficiently.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Tue Aug 21 2001 - 17:58:05 PDT