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Tag: New Years Wish

Engelbart Model (wish 4/4)

Engelbart’s Model of Continuous Improvement

Doug Engelbart, who was my friend and mentor, had a rich and deep understanding of how we can go about pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps to consciously improve how we work to solve problems together. I do not pretend to understand all aspects, even after many discussions with him, so please do not take my brief overview here as anything definitive–we would love to learn more when approached with differing interpretations.

ABC’s of Improvement

At the core of Doug Engelbart’s model of continuous improvement to improve our collective intelligence (which can be viewed as both meanings of the word) is his notion of ABC levels activity:

  • A is the primary work activity, such as talking on the phone or sending emails.
  • B is the improvement of A, such as developing a better email system or training for how to better speak on the phone.
  • C is the activity of improving the improvement process and that is a level we need to invest in.

Symbol Manipulation & CODIAK

Our own work is focused around symbol manipulation, of which a large part is text, and the cycle of ingesting, processing and producing knowledge. Doug Engelbart had a model for this which he called CODIAK: The COncurrent Development, Integration and Application of Knowledge (notice that this link is to the CODIAK section of the ‘Toward High-Performance Organizations’ document. This is an example of high resolution addressing which allows augmented citations).

The document, which is worthwhile to read in full, outlines how, in an organization, each organisational unit is “continuously analyzing, digesting, integrating, collaborating, developing, applying, and re-using its knowledge, much of which is ingested from its external environment (which could be outside of, or within, the same organization).” This results in a continuous knowledge process with three main components:

  • Intelligence
  • Dialog records
  • Knowledge products

‘Intelligence’ is what we usually now refer to as sources, ‘dialogue records’ are unfortunately something more ephemeral, lost in the ether(net) and the ‘knowledge products’ are not often enough consciously enough optimized to be future sources for further work.

The Liquid Information Project works to augment the process of authoring documents which are as findable readable and citable as possible, which maps onto this perspective.

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Tool Augmentation New Years Wish (wish 3/4)

Many Ways

There are many aspects of our life and work we need to address, including education, economics, business, work, politics, religion, culture, media, technology and so on.

Mental Ways

This particular article addresses one of the more intimate aspects of our being: How we extend our reach into the information in the world, how we extend our ability to grasp the intention of others and how we can deepen our understanding of what is in our own minds.

Tool Augmented Ways

We rightly decry the pervasive impact social media has over our lives; both in terms of sucking faces into small rectangles as opposed to looking up and around the room and interacting directly with those we are with, and the data-measured surveillance and impact ‘fake news’ have on our democratic process. Yet there is little outpouring of improved information tools of systems, simply a meek and futile knee-jerk response to call for less of it.

I take the position that the tools we use to think with will either constrain our expand our thinking–our ability to find, grasp and communicate information. I find this truth to be pretty self-evident by now.

Therefore it also seems clear that the development of our tools for thought require one of our greatest investments in time, attention and other resources.

If we want to improve our ‘intelligence’
(ability to acquire and apply knowledge),
we need to to improve our ‘intelligence’
(information sources and the means through which we interact with them).

In the Room. In our Minds

We cannot be in the room when someone reacts to political spin, weaponised social media, fake news, a misleading academic document or a false company report, nor can we teach every one how to analyse every one of these media and every one of these posts and reports–though we must try–but we can build increasingly powerful interactions for these people to not be satisfied with the one presentation they are given and make it effortless for them to follow any spark of curiosity to see the information in a different way or a different context.

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Grand Challenge (wish 2/4)

Grand Challenge, A Grand Augmentation Effort

For this grandest of challenges there will not be a single solution nor will there be a single goal we can measure and celebrate if we get there. What we are looking at is as simple as finding ways to better work together to understand our problems and each other, to produce a paradigm–a point of view–that while our first responsibility is to take care of ourselves and not expect anyone else to do so.

We look to elevate what the commander said to his troop as they left the safe confines of their vehicle: “Don’t just focus on yourself, focus on the rest of your team, that way you all have seven people looking after you”. We look to multiply this by one billion–that we all take ownership and responsibility for everyone in our team, all seven billion of us, just like the troop of seven people look after each other.

We work to stretch the boundary of us versus them to the point where ‘them’ becomes archaic and anachronistic, out of touch with a unified but diverse humanity. We need to address how we can open ourselves up and be stronger as part of wider and more diverse bigger ‘me’. #biggerme

This goal immediately moves into the notion of ‘freedom’. How can we work to support each other without judging and moralising and restraining each other?

Join us, Compete with us, Do something Different

The only unifying theme here is to do work which will benefit our species, not just ourselves, our company or our country, though it is not an either-or affair, the higher our goal the more levels of society can benefit.

Improvement Community

You are welcome to join our Improvement Community which can also produce some very valuable dialogue as to why some approaches turn out to be more effective than others and how this can change over time if we can Network our Improvement Community through the model of professional or academic symposia something similar.

Networked Improvement Community

If you feel your work is far removed from what you read about here and you already have an Improvement Community, or not let’s try to connect along the lines of what Doug Engelbart called NIC of NICs–Networked Improvement Community of Networked Improvement Communities.

We do not have any illusions about being right or even on the right track. We take ownership of the problem, not of any specific solution. Let’s try to work together on that basis.

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