Bootstrap Institute logo Doug Engelbart's
   Colloquium at Stanford
An In-Depth Look at "The Unfinished Revolution"
Session 9
Bootstrapping in your organization and community
Douglas C. Engelbart1.*
- unedited transcript -

Welcome back to session nine of the "Unfinished Revolution". Every time I have to say, this is not my "Unfinished Revolution". It is society's "Unfinished Revolution". So, the sessions  name is bootstrapping in your organization and community. During the course of the previous eight  sessions, we have gone through the cycle of the different parts of the conceptual framework, several  times and talked about bootstrapping. I am going to dip into a little bit more, come up for air, and  we have some very interesting speakers today. Let's get going. 

The idea for the terminology of bootstrapping emerged, for me, way back. So I though it would be interesting to go back and show you the frame which that introduced. So there was a report  eleven years after I started off on this great jaunt. 

There was an initial, grand, "Bootstrapping Plan"

I had had some support from an air force office of scientific research to actually do a study for building a conceptual framework. If I had known at the time what the word paradigm meant,  it hadn't been published yet, I would have said paradigms. That's a thick report; part of it was  published a year and a half later as a chapter in a book. A few years ago, this was put on the web.  It was done in Germany as the first link. There are some errors in there on translation. That was  transferred over as part of Stanford's history site. That doesn't have any diagrams. So, I used the  German ones still. A really admire the graduate student who went out and found that and managed to  do a nice job converting. 

  • For ferreting out the '62 SRI Report, "Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework," by Michael Friedewald, graduate student in Germany, for his PhD project, in 1997, who found and transcribed into HTML this and other early papers:
  • Thank you, Dr. Friedewald!!

So we are going to get some views on that. So, I want to say thank you Dr. Fredwall. It was nice for him to do that and communicate with us and say it was accessible. 

09-Eng01.jpg Fig. 1

So here's a part of that report. The thing that I am trying to do is develop the concept of the bootstrapping as it emerged in there, just to get it clearer. So I said if I start a research  activity and labeled it A-1. I said I would be depending upon the information on the existing  disciplines that are out there in the world and that would provide me the solid lines on information  about psychology and whatever was going on in the world. Also, the outside world would be providing  me with tools and techniques, which I could use to do the research. You know computer programming  and the like. Both of those things were important. The background knowledge I was going to use and  digest, but essentially the things that were going to augment me. So I had the dotted line for that,  in this report we start expanding on that picture. Saying when I got going I would have that product  and the product of our research would be how do you augment yourself through computers. 

09-Eng02.jpg Fig. 2

Look, we  would feed that output back which would be knowledge and etc..but it would come back in as  capabilities and technologies I could use to increase our laboratory's efficiency. That was the very  first thing I called bootstrapping just really feedback that if your output is something that can  improve your capability, boy you plow it back and it is really good. The thinking about that really  matured during the writing of this contract until there was a whole framework. 

Diagram inserted by webmaster
Total program
A total program. Diagram taken from D.C. Engelbart, "Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptial Framework" (October 1962). Suggested relationships among the major activities involved in achieving the stated objective (essentially of significantly boosting human power in A3 and U1). The solid lines indicate things to work on, the dotted lines indicate things to work with. Figures 3 - 10 point to parts of this diagram.

09-Eng03.jpg Fig. 3

I am starting at the bottom of it cause I couldn't get it all on the screen. So here is the D1 and the A2 that we were talking about here. We will unfold this as it goes just to show you  something about an infrastructure in which bootstrapping had quite a few levels of activity.

09-Eng04.jpg Fig. 4

The  total program, that is the title of the report suggested relationship among the major activities  involved in achieving a state of objective, which is essentially boosting human power in the A3 and  E1 boxes. That is very noble. 

09-Eng05.jpg Fig. 5

The first box D-1 down there is other disciplines relevant to basic  augmentation research. Psychology, Linguistics, A-I, Computer Science, and automated instructions.  Then that feeds in directly with a dotted line and a solid line back into the actual basic research  that we were going to establish.

09-Eng06.jpg Fig. 6

Then this was the basic augmentation research empirically and total  system oriented. To boost the capabilities on and up the line including itself. By the late 60's, we  were actually doing it. 

09-Eng07.jpg Fig. 7

Then the next one was a special application research specifically to given real world problems solving tasks. Among the first of these are A4 and U1. So, we explicitly oriented that for  program support, for design. Then by 1974 for field support we had people out there selling  services. We are actually moving up the line here. You have to put it to work in real environments  in order to learn that. You notice by now that you are starting to see more dotted lines. That is  where the intriguing part comes. 

09-Eng08.jpg Fig. 8

So then this problem here we never really got going we were always  hoping. That to get an activity going you can not instate critical problems and educate awareness  among those who can initiate solutions. This is why I was so tickled to have Gerry Glen come and tell us about the United Nations University Millennium Project to study what are the major big challenges to society. That is the  kind of thing that we would really like to do and the next one would say that you would like to get  product development going so that you can actually deliver those systems to wider utilization. 

09-Eng09.jpg Fig. 9

If  they ended up in the commercial world actually doing that, the thing is by the time you got in the  commercial world, the research that was supporting the bottom part kind of got lost. So that sort of  vanished and now they are just floating off by the top. They learned a lot still in the commercial  world. Then up here, find the F and you get this thing working and you'll be able to attack the real  problems of society. That was a big goal. 

09-Eng10.jpg Fig. 10

That is what is in my mind when we talk about improvement  infrastructure and augmenting large scope parts of society. That is still there and the nice feed  back about dotted lines turning into solid lines, and solid lines turning into dotted lines, the  feedback, are all parts of how the thing can bootstrap. Sometime I am looking forward to having some  people that I can dialogue with cold fellows, if you wish, like graduate students or something that  over the months we can start digging into these things and we can bore down. There is more than I  can hold down and keep track of in my head. 

The "Bootstrapping" Idea--is a strategic matter
  • For how to get the most improvement in your organizational capability
    - per unit expenditure
    - in dollars and people efforts
  • Note that there are many "loop backs" which can provide compound gains;
  • But let's focus on "loop-back" gains in organizational-capability improvement.

So this bootstrapping idea is a strategic matter. It is how to get the most improvement in your organizational capability for unit of expenditure, expenditure in dollars, and people  efforts. Looking at the scale of things as we did early on, we said it is just a huge scale of  problems out there and a huge scale challenge out there to build something on a scale out there that  is going to effect out ability to cope with it. In that feedback picture that I talked about there  are many loops and so that loop back gains in that organizational capability is part of the  strategic thing to think about. We haven't had a chance to dig down into that very much, in our time  with this, but it is a big factor in all of the different little ways you can strategically you can  make choices that do that kind of feedback to help bootstrap. 

Thesis: The best bootstrapping is with "loops" which Improve the improvement infrastructure
  • That's why serious pursuit of boosted Collective-IQ would be such a dynamite investment
    - for any large organization
    - for any significant social institution
    - for any country
    - for the world

The best bootstrapping is with loops that improve the improvement infrastructure. We have been through that before. That is why the serious pursuit of the boosted collective IQ would be such  a dynamite investment for any large organization or significant social institution. For any country  or the world, that just seems to fall into a huge amount of quality, positive feedback to give you  the bootstrapping. Then I ran across things called grand challenges. People would variously list  them out there in the world. As far as I am concerned, the fifteen that Gerry Glenn's group has  isolated is a good set of grand challenges. They are sitting there for the world to take on. How  about noting that this augmenting our collective capability to deal with complex problems could be  classed as a grand challenge. 

Compare with any of mankind's other "Grand Challenges"--then consider this:
  • Challenge: Augmenting our collective capability to deal with complex, urgent problems.
  • Then note that this would enhance our ability to pursue any/all of the other
  • Grand-challenge candidates.
  • So, why don't we treat it as perhaps the Grandest of Grand Challenges?

That enhances our ability to pursue any and all of the other grand challenges. In a sense that should be the grand challenge of all. It takes a little more than to write that down or say it  around the world a few times, but it really is. When is the world going to take after it explicitly?  This is different from saying we are working on e-commerce, or knowledge management in our  environments. It is sort of explicitly how would you go about strategically to say mankind you are  going is sort of like the invention of rioting a long time ago, it is a new sort of way in  which you can externalize your concepts and deal with them. So why not get going, I saved Ted Nelson  for the last. When he gets up he is going to tell you it's all wrong let's get going. 

But with further thought, it can become even more appealing
  • Expand challenge (1) of boosting society's Collective-IQ 
  • by using that gain in turn to (2) boost society's Improvement Infrastructure!
  • A second Grand Challenge benefit; but wait, then we see that boosted (2) will increase the
  • boost rate of both (1) and (2)
  • How could you beat that multiply compounding Value Proposition?

More appealing to say that challenge one of boosting society's collective IQ, by using that gain to do number two, boost society's improvement infrastructure. You get a second benefit out  of that the grand challenge of improvement infrastructure. If you can boost two and you apply that  to one, you have better ability to go do your boosted collective IQ because your improvement  infrastructure is better. If you do that better then that can feed back into your improvement  infrastructure that you can improve things better. Which includes improving the collective IQ. The  dynamics like that are there to go after. That's been the plan. How could you beat that multiply  compounding value proposition? That is sitting there as a value proposition, but how do you turn  that into a value proposition that you can talk inside of bigger organizations that really have to  be involved in this before it is really going to work. 

The purpose of the bootstrap strategy
  • It is likely that many organizations will not adapt quickly enough or appropriately enough to survive these complex and rapid environmental changes.
  • The rapid environmental changes will be a continuing phenomenon for many decades.
  • The surviving organizations will likely have established especially energetic and intelligent internal processes to plan and manage their evolution.
  • Needed: A pragmatic, global, continuing strategy for investing in evolutionary improvement--the purpose of the bootstrap strategy.

I found some interesting slides that we used in classes in 1991-92 in seminars. They said it so well still, so I am going to pour some of them at you now. It is going to be likely that many  organizations are not going to be able to adapt quickly enough or appropriately enough to survive  the complex and rapid environmental changes that we are just headed for. So, these are rapid  environmental changes that will be continuing phenomena for many decades. The surviving  organizations will have developed an especially energetic and intelligence internal process to plan  and manage their evolution. This is needed a pragmatic global continuing strategy for investing in  evolutionary improvement. That is the kind of bootstrap strategy purpose. Continuing evolutionary  improvement. We come around to that, what we have to do is find an effective evolutionary  environment and get it established. Look at the kind of things that impede that and see if you can  readjust our social structures so we can get going on that kind of bootstrapping. Here is a curve I  put in some years ago. 

09-Eng11.jpg Fig. 11

If you have some brand new capability enhancing augmentation system. You bring it in and it is going to cost you for time. It will probably drop your productivity and capability, etc..and  then slowly work its way up until it does its thing. During all of that time, you are spending money  and getting it installed and built up to get it going, so it is fairly expensive. What you have to  do is trade off that expense for the gain in capability. Here is what has really been happening all  the time in the computer world, purvey, and gooey and everything else so it is easy to learn and you  get up there quickly. 

09-Eng12.jpg Fig. 12

We say hey, look there are things like that, you really need to find out what capability gains are possible, and then judge whether the expense of getting to that is worth the gain. Some  kind of operatory thing that is fixed by people paradigm of how thing are going to work and  particularly by the turn of automating your office work. Which would nail it there. This is the kind  of thing I think Ted and I both have been doing for several years, just fuming and flapping out  hands and saying there really are different things that can be tried. They are not the kind of ways  that you are used to working, reading, talking, and interacting with people. Those all built up  around the means we had for communicating and externalizing our symbols at the time. We take that as  the natural human way because that is how we adapted to the technology and the means at the time. We  are freed from that now so we can back up and learn some different things. That's just a very  important thing. 

When in the world you are trying to tell someone something important that they could be doing, if they don't see that there really is potential like that. They shrug their shoulders and wonder why  you are flapping your hands and say that it is already taken care of it, the market is taking care  of it. It is very critically important that somehow we starting being able to start demonstrate the  new capabilities that are there in an environment that is significant to people. 

In the groupware market, the user-org community must become more pro-active
  • Suppose, for instance, that larger user-orgs became leaders in exploratory development of human-system improvements to harness downstream technologies.
  • And suppose that they also found practical ways to accelerate co-operative roadmapping of their common future info-sys functions and architectural requirements--toward serving their critical and expensive org-evolution programs.
  • An OHS how much sooner this way? Consider the value gained from each earlier year's "no-island," open use of radical, online, OHS interop possibilities.

Now this is a term now they are already talking GroupWare. The web was not out there. The user organization community must become more proactive. This is something that I have said before.  Unless the user organizations really start figuring out where they need to go and start actively  assessing it, and making plans for boosting that. They are going to say that we are already buying  the best from you know who. You say that there is more that they can do. They say what do you mean  the marketplace is what takes care of that isn't it? The market place won't know how to take care of  it unless the users, the consumers that are end user organizations, aren't really proactively  looking ahead to say where do they want to go? Where can they go? They are not going to be doing  that unless they invest in looking out ahead. This is the kind of problem. If they stay not  investing in extending their site and understanding then they are going to be walking along like  this. Some day some of them are going to start looking out there and making plans that are going to  be different and the short sighted ones are going to be those who suffer for it. All we have to do  is get some long term ones started. I think what I will do is, I have quite a train of some of these  things that I would like to deliver to you but we can stop in-between and sort of introduce some of  our speakers and let them have a discussion about their particular point of view. One point of view  that is really interesting is majors and how you get quality out there and how you get people to  move along with tools that have standards in them. I am going to introduce Allen Brown. He is  president CEO of Open Group. He will tell you who that is. 

[>] Interlude
Driving toward interoperability
Allen Brown, President and CEO, The Open Group

Group discussion

What I hope to do as we get a little dialogue here is at least two people here, and Jeff are involved in this kind of thing. What is the connection between the process he has been  describing and the open way that the knowledge containers are going to show and carry our knowledge  in new ways? They have to be open and interoperatable. I just had a dramatic experience in the  parting with Donald Douglas is that the engineers pointed out to me how many suppliers were involved  in close interaction with the actual two thousand people, and Donald Douglas who designed and  manufactured the thing. There was six thousand companies involved, and they said a big air transport  would be thirteen or more thousand. Those all have to interchange and do critical kinds of knowledge  and design specks and actual product and testing materials. The kind of ways in which all of the  hyper media in the future are going to be able to connect with that and help the dialogue go on are  just dramatic. That just convinced me that there needed to be something like that. Anything from our  seated panel? 

Audience: It seems to me that there are a number of different approaches in trying to improve various parts of organizational IQs and Allan had touched upon one. In terms of his consortion  model, he is looking at the suppliers on the one hand and the customers on the other hand. In our  case is the software productivity model. Our funders or the suppliers, if you will, are really the  customers. So, we really have that loop if you will, in terms of the improvement process. The other  part that really strikes me is if you want to relate it to the models that have been discussed in  this group, my understanding is that Allan touched upon a group of suppliers that typically fall  into the space of dual suppliers or infrastructure suppliers. In order to improve the organizational  IQ we need other parts or aspects to be improved, such as processes and frameworks. There are  various organizations that are trying to wrestle with these various aspects, and at some point they  need to come together. 

Audience: I spent a large part of my career in consumer electronics. You mentioned the example of Beta-Max. I would say that the industry really learned from that. Generally now they do form  standards because they do want that big market. I would suggest MPG 2, MPG 4. There are a lot of  examples of that where the industry got together and established an industry standard. They want a  world standard now. I would just suggest as far as the Web, and the kinds of market that are  available worldwide are going to force people into this mode than the other. 

Brown: I agree with that. I think that it is inevitable that people will move into that mode. Where we are in the software side. The platform side. It is taking longer to get there because there are a  lot of people that are looking to trying to establish a differentiated position constantly. 

Audience: An example of the so called multi-media, where we have Macromedia Director, we have Flash, we have Power Point, we have QuickTime, and we have the World Wide Web. The interoperatability level  is very slight, at it will probably remain so. Things can be exported; things can be transformed,  like you create little women the video game. It is no longer very much what you started with. I  think with mission critical applications and area where there is a well-defined thing that you  should do, like a rocket reaching the moon; it is possible to agree on standards. I think the  prospect will be much bleaker in the media area. 

Unbelievable. I just got a message on my computer, saying that there is some kind of blip I should reboot. 

Brown: While you are doing that, I just want to mention that a topic that the Department of Defense brought up at our conference in January. They are trying to implement object technology. There is an  existing standard for object technology. Nothing conforms to it. 

Audience: Will you tell us what that is? 

Brown: No. The standard is 2.1 standard. 

Audience: Which is one of many. 

Brown: We are trying to work with the standards body that is responsible for that. To try and help the industry get to the point where orbs from different manufactures really interoperate and enable the DOD to what it is they want to do. The issue for them is that if we cannot get to  interoperability. They will get to have two choices. One is buy nothing and go some place else. The  other is to single source. For any large organization, single sourcing....buying all of your pencils  from one place is a big deal...but buying mission critical application infrastructure is a  significant step. The same is true of security and certificates of security. The same problem, lack  of interoperatability. What do we do? Do we go some place else and try and figure out a different  way of doing it? Do we single source, or do we work with the suppliers to understand how they and  everyone in the market can benefit, and we can get interoperatable products delivered and everything  will grow and more innovation will follow. 

Audience: The League of Nations was an endeavor to settle international issues peacefully, and trying to settle standards peacefully may run into the same historical eventuality. 

Audience: The only thing I have to say about that is that I experienced several standards in the area of media that have been successful. So, I have examples that it is possible to do this. To do  it at a very high level of achievement and come up with an excellent standard. I think that there  are models out there like the MPG 3 group and others that you can build on when the market is big  enough, and when the player in the market have decided after hurting themselves badly enough several  times after going after large markets, that it is a better root. 

Audience: As with MPG, sometimes the players' decisions may hurt them as in MP3. 

I should apologize to everybody, I invited Ted. 

Ted: You knew what you were getting in to. 

I have known him for many years and we have agreed that we will stay friends anyway. 

Audience: I have a colleague that did a contract for a military general at one of the services. They told them go find out why this years version of this did not work with last years. He started doing  an order through the system. The programmers are doing a good job, the designers are doing a good  job, until someone higher up in the organization took him aside and said that if we made it  competitive to what we made last year we wouldn't be selling as many this year. Some of the answers  have nothing to do with single sourcing. There is manipulation going on to preserve the market. 

I think that we will get on with that. There are several things about the standards. One of them is unless the user organizations get more pro-active; they are going to get tugged around.  The other is that when we get into this thing of collective IQ, and things like that, where your  exchanging knowledge and the vocabulary, dialogue that goes on between you, really gets to be  essentially like what is the control of the evolution of our vocabulary and our dictionaries under  control of somebody who got a paten on the word. You couldn't use it unless you got an ok with that.  You say when we are getting into that domain, the drift of what has happened in the world into the  language, thinking, and communicating, it is hard to believe that society in order to get smarter  will put up with that. 

Audience: It seems to me that with the rate of change increasing now we need to stop looking at objects and specific insights and start creating a language of flows of processes. One where insight  is a constant flow of discovery. 

That is part of the evolution that I really see need to be done. You have to evolve the environment so that the way in which we think and work with our heads can evolve effectively. We  will open up something else by introducing Kurt Carlson who is the president and CEO of Stanford  Research Institute. He is going to speak. 

[>] Interlude
What is the value proposition? 
Exponential teams, NICs, etc.
Curtis Carlson, Ph.D., Physics,
President and CEO, SRI International

- Break -

Welcome back to the second half. We have an interesting arrangement now that we have in  New York on the telecommunication video telecom arrangement is Michael Hart. Sometimes you will see  him on the screen. Sometimes he'll see me or different shots of you guys, and so we are assuming  dialogue. Michael, can you hear me? Can you say something? 

[>] Interlude
Bootstrapping at CitiGroup
Engelbart interviews Michael Harte and Rick Swanburg

Value proposition that is what we are after. So, I respect whatever value proposition drove you to this expense of time and energy to tie to us. We appreciate it very much Michael and  Rick. I'd like to get in touch with you in a couple of days to thank you and talk it over. Thanks to  the crew back here to make that work. They had to scurry cause the idea only came up yesterday. I  think with out my diving into any slides, I will turn it over. I will give you fair warning that  what you are about to old friend Ted Nelson who we got aquatinted thirty three  years ago. He was a very young man at the time, and it has been great. He is off there waving at the  world, and sometimes we wave at each other. We can share a lot of experiences, of trying to wave at  the world at not sure that we get anyone to wave at the world. He keeps going on, and so do I. He  has got some really interesting things. One of the things that I would like to tell everybody, is  when we try to get something going that is an evolutionary process, and an evolutionary  hyper-document system that is open for evolution I think it would be extremely important to  integrate the kinds of things that we would like to do with the kind of things that he talks about  because something in the fusion of those things would be very important. He is a pretty good kid.  One time he was going to make a movie. He needed somebody to play the role of his father. I don't  know how he did it but he talked me into doing it. So take it away. 

[>] Interlude
Where our hyper-media really should go!
Ted Nelson, Project Professor, Keio University, SFC Campus, Fujisawa, Japan

Well can we cut and paste on them? Well I thank you.




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