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Category: Future Of Text

Continuing symposium on the future of text.

Joe & Sally

The XEROX PARC chapter of personal computing explicitly changed the user from Doug Engelbart’s high-performance knowledge worker to the secretary, whom they called ‘Sally’.

As Alan Kay pointed out, and which Doug illustrated in his seminal ’62 paper with the user ‘Joe’, Doug was trying to make a violin but not everyone wants to play a violin. Today we have the Mac and Windows with their point-and-click ease and limitations, with scarcely an innovation in the last few decades worth mentioning.

This distinction was of course never in black and white and today the average computer user is much more experienced than in earlier decades and of course it is important to provide an entry to a user with a learning curve which is not too steep.

When Doug made the Keynote Address at the World Library Summit 2002 in Singapore, he pointed out that we have made ‘truly tremendous progress’ in using computer systems to help us solve problems. He continues:

But that is not what I am going to talk to you about. Not out of lack of appreciation – even a sense of wonder – over what computer technologists have developed – but because I can see that we are not yet really making good progress toward realizing the really substantial payoff that is possible. That payoff will come when we make better use of computers to bring communities of people together and to augment the very human skills that people bring to bear on difficult problems.
Engelbart, 2018

He clearly presented what he saw as the goal; ‘to get the significant payoff from using computers to augment what people can do’:

Furthermore, Doug discussed the “seductive, destructive appeal of ‘ease of use’ – A second powerful, systematic bias that leads computing technology development away from grappling with serious issues of collaboration – the kind of thing, for example, that would really make a difference to disaster response organizations – is the belief that “ease of use” is somehow equated with better products. Going back to my tricycle/bicycle analogy, it is clear that for an unskilled user, the tricycle is much easier to use. But, as we know, the payoff from investing in learning to ride on two wheels is enormous. We seem to lose sight of this very basic distinction between “ease of use” and “performance” when we evaluate computing systems.”

Sally is now well served by the software community’s continual, gradual improvements. Let’s give Joe another shot, let’s build knowledge work systems like bikes with rockets attached.

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Emailed to the Doug @ 50 Core team regarding the Book Summit


On the 19th of this month I’ll be presenting at the summit of the book in Baku. Yes, I know, it’s super cool.

I have three ideas for what I would like to present from our group and I wonder who is interested in working on what part (or would like to suggest alternatives). I am not talking about final projects but at least solid plans as to how we will complete and maybe some aspect working:

• HyperGlossaries implemented in a basic way in WordPress with a way to create, insert and access glossary entries which are at least close to being integrated with knowledge graphs.

• Socratic Authoring: Demonstrating exporting of a document to a server and have the server be able to ‘look’ inside the document to do advanced analysis/views.

• ViewSpecs in WordPress. Essentially a powerful, web based RSS reader with easy mechanisms to specify whose thread the user wants to read and what keywords to search for (this would be prime for our own dog-fooding/bootstrapping).

* I am also investing heavily of my own to have a basic version of dynamic views in Author useable by then:

This is a fantastic excuse for an early deadline and a great opportunity to sign up allies to our mission of making knowledge more usefully interactive, to have libraries as partners for a global, 21st Century DKR.

Others who will be at the summit will include:

Ismail Serageldin, Founding Director Emeritus of the Library of Alexandria (co-chair of NGIC)
Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Former president of Latvia (co-chair of NGIC)
UNESCO Representative
Former IFLA President – Claudia Lux
Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Former President of Latvia
Aminah Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritius
George Ivanov, President of Macedonia
Ivo Josipovic, former president of Croatia
Emil Constantinescu, Former President of Romania
Boris Tadic, Former President of Serbia
On Google Books – (pending)
On the Work of the Library of Congress – Mary Jane Deeb
Brewster Kahle – the Internet Archive
Nadereh Chamlou, Former Senior Advisor, The World Bank
Ron Laporte – Towards mobilizing inter-library systems for development (TBC)
Peter Bae – Copyrights in the digital Age (TBC)
Ingrid Parent – former IFLA president
Han Yongjin, National Library of China
Sawako Hanyo, National Diet Library
Gerald Grumberg,
Krasimira Aleksandrova National Library of Bulgaria
Gholamreza Amirkhani, National Library of Iran
George Kekelidze, National Parliamentary Library of Georgia
Karim Tahirov, National Library of Azerbaijan)
Asadjan Khodjaev Deputy Director of the National Library of Uzbekistan
Zhanat Seidumanov,
National Library of Kazakhstan
Nazer Kurbanov, National Library of Turkmenistan
Jan Fischer, Former Prime Minister, Czech Republic,
On the future of Text: Frode Hegland
Susan Ness
Noram Amako, Deputy Director, Librarians Registration Council of Nigeria
Pradaig Kirby
Paul Sturges, Professor emeritus Loughborough University
Mohamed Hassan, President of the Inter-Academy Partnership
Nina Fedoroff, USA Presidential medal of Science laureate
Tay Ai Cheng, Deputy Chief Executive National Library Board
Helena Asamoah-Hassan, Executive Director, African Library and Information Associations & Institutions
Hassan ELOUAZZANI Morocco (Ministry of Culture)
Jay Jordan, Jay Jordan, CEO Emeritus of OCLC who is now on NewsBank’s board of directors.
Alicia Cristina Ocaso-Ferreira President Uruguayan Library Association (ABU) for more.

Who is with me on what part?


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… Further Notes on a ‘Add Term’ dialog box

Further to Wednesday calls it might be useful to let the user choose which pre-set Categories sets to import from the chosen Knowledge Graph. Also, the creation of relationships here is done in a pop-up box where [OHS] [builds] [DKR] is manually ‘coded’, where the verb can be typed or chosen from a list based on the knowledge graph space interacted with.

This is based on the previous post.

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