To learn about Doug Engelbart’s work – past, present and future – here’s a little background and some links I hope you find helpful. Note that his revolutionary, seminal life’s work sprang forth from an actual ‘trail of wonder, rigorously explored’ (many thanks to Dr. C for coining that term for this course, it is so descriptive of Doug Engelbart’s research process!). For tips on writing about Doug Engelbart’s work, see my blogpost Tips for blogging about Doug Engelbart and his work.
- Basics: For overall background, see the piece I wrote about Doug Engelbart for the kid in all of us aptly titled Just for Kids, featuring the human side of Doug Engelbart as a backdrop for his life’s work, plus some fun facts and links. For even more background, see also our Doug Engelbart Archive Collection portal page for stories about historic firsts, plus my blog post The Human Side of Doug Engelbart, and Dr. Campbell’s earlier blogpost Dreams About How The World Could Be.
- Original Research Agenda: In 1961, while working on his comprehensive 1962 report that you’ll find in the New Media Reader, Doug wrote a succinct summary of his proposed research Program on Human Effectiveness, which will help you set the context for the comprehensive 160+page 1962 report.
- Demo of Early Results: Watch some footage from the 1968 “Mother of All Demos”. See our Doug’s 1968 Demo portal page for retrospectives and links. SRI International, the research institute where he conducted his research, recently extracted key footage into a short composite Highlights of the 1968 Demo.
- Vannevar Bush’s Influence. In 1945 Vannevar Bush wrote As We May Think. All the early pioneers of the internet were influenced by this article. After stumbling across a collection of 12 videos that captured a Vannevar Bush Symposium held in 1995, which I posted them in Video Archives of the MIT/Brown Vannevar Bush Symposium. See especially section 2 Influence on Doug Engelbart which includes the quite interesting story of how my dad first encountered the article — in a remote Red Cross library in the Philippines — and a copy of a letter he wrote to Vannevar Bush in 1962 describing his proposed research.
- Thirty Years Later: Thirty years after Doug first charted a course for dramatically increasing collective IQ in organizations, networks and societies, and developed a high-leverage strategy for going about it, he was very frustrated with the direction the information technology industry had taken — they were aimed in a different direction and barely only scratching the surface of what he envisioned. In the early 1990s he began offering a series of management seminars called Bootstrapping Organizations into the 21st Century, and he recast his manifesto in the paper Toward High-Performance Organizations A Strategic Role for Groupware. He also set to work delineating the major differences in paradigms (industry’s vs. his), which resulted in a presentation he called the Bootstrap “Paradigm Map” which he used throughout the 1990s to explain what was needed (watch Doug presenting a summary of this presentation). Recently two short video compilations were created to relate his life’s work and where we need to be headed: The NMC Tribute Video Doug Engelbart’s Call to Action, and the Logitech Tribute Video Doug Engelbart: A New Paradigm for Humanity’s Collective IQ. These plus the Strategic paper and Paradigm Map presentations remain the best articulation of his Call to Action for the future, told in his own words. Which is what he wanted us to remember about his work.
- Fifty Years Later: In 2009 his daughter and long-time business partner, Christina Engelbart (me), started work distilling his Call to Action into actionable steps one can take to put his vision to practice, resulting in a set of five organizing principles or accelerators known as Bootstrapping Innovation and Collective IQ. This model describes the research approach my dad applied in his own lab to accelerate results at scale. It also describes the research approach used to organize this MOOC!
- The Future: Creating a Brilliant World! When my dad passed away in 2013, I started thinking about the best way to honor his memory. The answer was easy: inspire people everywhere to accelerate progress toward unleashing the untapped potential he envisioned for humanity. I repurposed the objective from “high performance organizations” to “brilliant organizations” achieving brilliant outcomes, resulting in brilliant businesses and societies, and a brilliant world.” I am currently formulating the Engelbart Grand Challenge to recognize initiatives and organizations that exemplify Doug Engelbart’s vision with brilliant results. I have meantime reserved http://www.brilliantworld.org.
For those with budding curiosity but small time windows, I recommend prioritizing thusly:
- Just for Kids (web page)
- Program on Human Effectiveness 1961 (9 page summary of proposed work)
- How Doug was influenced by Vannevar Bush (web page)
- Highlights of the 1968 Demo (24 min; video excerpts)
- Doug Engelbart: A New Paradigm for Humanity’s Collective IQ (8 min; composite video)
- Toward High-Performance Organizations A Strategic Role for Groupware (1992 manifesto)
- Bootstrapping Innovation and Collective IQ (web page; a model for evolving the research design process underlying this MOOC)