The Future of Text & DOUG

The manifesto for The Future of Text 2015 has now been frozen, in it’s fresh and raw form and is now at:. The original (which may have been edited since it’s still open) is in the Google Doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1T22hMfsY0n3uWcY9WjieR_xriD2H6XAPzO4O3eM2vAY/edit

Our days together provided much appreciated inspiration and connections and appreciation of the vastness of the possibilities of the futures of text. Hence the impossibility of coalescing on one single point of view. This is a Good Thing.

As we prepare to leave 2015 behind and face 2016 with refreshed eyes and renewed vigour, a few of us have decided to work on something which is not strictly about text, but which we feel is important and which can make a real difference to how people communicate and work together to solve problems:

50th Anniversary of The Mother of All Demos Demo

Yes, we want to work on some way to inspire the next generation to invent. Travelling back to a world where there was no digital computer systems to compete with or integrate with, this would be a challenge for us even today, considering what Doug put together. Staying within the reality of today, with a myriad of technical implementations and working systems, this is indeed a daunting task.

We have set the task, to complete and present on the 9th of December 2018, an inspiration and an initial implementation for a whole new way of working together, over digital networks, which will fire off the imagination for renewed growth and innovation, beyond the WYSIWYG ties to paper, the linearity of documents, the incomprehensibility of AI for the user, the information ghettos of databases and document formats, the link-rotting web and the extreme limitations of endless pages of black text on a whit e background turning our information into grey mush.

We will call this system DOUG, in memory of of friend and shining light, Doug Engelbart, and as a backronym it stands for ‘Dialog for Online UnderstandinG’.

We will go far beyond the division of tool maker and tool user, working to unite the two while keeping roles clear. We will anchor the dream of what DOUG can be in the world as it is, morphing to suit current workflows and improving them, changing what is necessary while acknowledging that change is expensive and needs to be deployed with care. DOUG will not be a flashy demo of software technology but new ways of working, new ways of flying through information.

The first step is for all of us to write and publish our dreams in any publicly available form, such as through blogs. We would prefer wordpress blog posts, since they are quite uniform, but it’s up to you. All the posts will be collated on doug-50.info and by Easter we will start to prioritise and focus our perspectives. We will also be holding weekly Skype chats. We’d love for you to join us in any capacity and at any level which would suit you.

When I was taking my masters here in London, one of my tutors had seen Doug’s 68 demo and remarked that Doug seemed to be ‘flying through the information’. Doug might have added to that sentence ‘while truly connecting with it, not simply flying over it’.

The DOUG system will be all about that one emotion, that one vision; becoming so intimately connected ’through’ the information systems, with information, perspectives, other people and your own thoughts, that you feel like you have become one, one system, one flow.

Will you join us?

We are currently at the inter-galactic level of dreaming what this can be. Join us in dreaming, join us in building. As Doug once said to me: “Someone once called me ‘just’ a dreamer’. I have a problem with the word ‘just’. Dreaming is hard!”
Frode, Sam, Pavel, Timour, Stan, Jack, Vint &, hopefully; You.

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