Email to the group 27 December 2017

Merry Christmas Everyone!
The status for the initiative to ‘Produce Something To Demo’ for the anniversary is that we are only very, very slowly coming together to define what a Dynamic Knowledge Repository can be for the 21st Century, while staying true to Doug’s augmentation vision.
Organising for the celebrations on the day however, is coming along apace, with SRI and CHM collaborating so that is all well and good. While some of us thought we could inspire some collaboration to build something useful it turns out we have only been badgering a lot of you. We apologise.
I am not the boss of this nor do I have any special qualifications, credentials or even credibility and I would be very happy to hand this over to someone else to bind together, but frustrating as it is, I think trying to build something to demo is vitally important. I have therefore decided to stop emailing you as a group, since this is just cluttering your mailbox. I will ONLY keep emailing those of you who explicitly ask me asking to stay on this software build list, except for those of you who are active on the calls of course.

Just as we needed to develop an environmental movement to help us deal with the environmental problems we are facing, there will at some point, a point I think we have long since passed, be a need to develop a deep literacy movement to help us deal with the sophisticated systems and tools we will need to develop in order to deal with increasingly urgent, complex problems.

If we don’t do this, we will tip over to a point where we simply won’t have developed the expertise, experience, knowledge and know-how as well as culture and attitude (getting rid of the “I’m not a computer person” and “what I learnt to do in college is good enough 20 years later because I don’t have time to become more efficient” or even “tools don’t think, people do” on the theme of “guns don’t kill, people do”) to build ever more powerful knowledge systems.

In order to do this we will need to coordinate designers, users, researchers, cognitive scientists and computer scientists on a useful scale. Otherwise, we will be stuck with the click-button over-simplicity which has dominated human-computer interaction since the popularisation of the GUI.

Doug On Skis

In my mind Doug Engelbart is screaming down a hill with the finesse of a world-class skier, in consummate control of every muscle in his body to move him over and around the shape of the mountain, hitting exactly the right beats, going exactly where he wants to go, with the greatest efficiency. Behind him are the rest of us, walking down with skis in our luggage since it would take too much effort to learn how to ski properly.

Athletes of The Mind

I am not talking about how to move through snow of course, I am talking about how we move through and manipulate information. Where we plod, he flies through cyberspace. It makes me smile thinking of him like that, but when I see the rest of us bumbling down the mountain there is nothing but sadness and fear, fear that we may simply not be up to the task of building augmentation systems for athletes of the mind with anything like the zeal we employ to augment and cheer on athletes of the body.

Do we as as species posses the ability to come together to do that? Does our current population of 7 billion or so contain enough people who are passionate about this and organisations who will support them?

Urgency & Opportunity

This is an existence level question since it is becoming increasingly clear, as Doug warned us and Donald demonstrates, that our problems are becoming ever more complex and time sensitive but our ability to deal with the problems is not nearly keeping pace. I pointed out to the group that we have a once in a lifetime opportunity with the anniversary next year and I asked what people wanted to contribute but the response was a heavy silence. To enter 2018 with no real direction, resources or plans will be terrible. Every day gone reduces our ability to produce something amazing.

• Can we build a truly rich dynamic knowledge space, in Doug’s language a Dynamic Knowledge Repository?
• Can we even define what a modern DKR would be?
• Or will we simply continue to work on our isolated projects and chat over coffee, only improving as much as a single effort is capable off?


I therefore ask you to have a look a the core Criteria for a 21st Century DKR. Please review and comment on whether you agree or have anything to add: Also, for you who are interested, there is a weekly call today, 5PM UK time, 9AM Pacific:

And here is a picture of our 7 3/4 month old son Edgar when he got to meet Santa. I hope we will all get to *be* Santa next year   🙂

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