Sunday, November 07, 2004

Flashes of Brilliance

I never thought I'd be one of those people sitting in a conference and actually blogging about it, but here I am. I'm listening to Doug Englebart talking at the Accelerating Change conference at Stanford.

I've met a lot of "smart people" in my career. Silicon Valley is full of them. Few are truly brilliant. Most are, well, full of themselves in one way or another.

Doug Englebart is, I'm convinced, truly brilliant. He is talking in dated generalities like paradigms and human capability, but they transcend the existing computer industry and looks at the whole thing afresh. I'm boggled.

I can't sum up what he is saying, but at the heart of it is communal intelligence. Like parallel processing, it requires the collective intelligence of communities to process information. "It needs to be open source, in the same way that natural language evolved in an open way."

My favorite bit: someone told Doug Englebart a long time ago that things needed to be "easy to use" and "easy to figure out". He said, "oh, right, that's why everybody is riding tricycles." His point was that nobody really understands how they ride bicycles; it is a very complex activity, yet people figure it out and it becomes natural.

I have a lot of new things to think about.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Doug IS one of the true originals. Were you at the 30 year celebration of the invention of the mouse event at Stanford that Institute for the Future and the libraries produced when Alan Kay,Ted Nelson and his
original team talked about how he'd influenced their ideas? Very,very moving.
He was in tears and speechless.

He's a really sweet man too--you should send him an email at Bootstrap. He needs to hear people-esp. young ones- excited about his huge idea,legacy.

Jon Husband said...

Do you know of George Por, and his work on Collective Intelligence ? He too is one of the pioneers ... he moved to Amsterdam from southern california about two years ago.

His blog is titled Blog of Collective Intelligence