Doug Englebart Rules

I’ve been reading “Augmenting Human Intellect: A conceptual framework” written by Doug Englebart  in 1962. You may have heard of him, he was the inventor of the computer mouse. Aside from the fact that the paper is exceptionally well written, considering that the conceptual framework he  describes was but a ‘gleam in the eye’ of an IBM mainframe at the time; the way he breaks down the system that exists between the human operator and the computer/ipad/iphone support is still useful today. It is especially inspiring as I look toward creating a way to visualize the terse text driven approach to J (which I believe holds it back from a larger audience) while retaining it’s expressiveness and power.

Englebart uses an example that I particularly like when he imagines a brick attached to a pen used as a writing instrument and reflects on how this may have changed the way we express our thoughts, and in addition the thoughts that would be expressed. It is likely that brevity would be even more valued if there were such a physical work out involved in writing. When he takes the example the other way and describes what we would now recognize as an iPad (48 years later), we see the opportunity that these devices provide us by augmenting our native intelligence.

However the apparatus and the operator is only part of the system, the language and the training are the other aspect that affect the power of this augmented intelligence. Using J can take the language another step, with it’s ability to represent mathematical thought as executable code; but an additional step remains in training and making the mathematical language more accessible to the operator.

Over the next few days, I hope to post some graphic examples of what this visual form of J representation might look like.

In the meantime: thanks Mr. Englebart, you are my polestar.


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