Demo@50 | Doug Engelbart | The Demo | What Is Still Missing | What We Are Building | The Collaboration | Who We Are


Doug Engelbart


Simply and briefly, Doug's mission:


We need to augment

our collective (local, global etc.)

capability to approach urgent, complex problems

in order to

gain more rapid and better comprehension (which can be defined as more thorough and more critical) …

to result in speedier and better solutions. (more contextual, longer lasting, cheaper, more equitable etc.)


Furthermore, we must improve our improvement process. (as individuals and groups)





Doug Engelbart's model of a Capability Infrastructure emerges from three elements:



“It is the boundary between these human capabilities and the rest of the infrastructure …  that, in a very real sense, defines the scope of the capabilities of this augmentation system.

If this interface is low-bandwidth and able to pass only a small amount of what the human knows and can do - and what the machine can portray - then the entire system tends to be more “automation” than “augmentation,” since the computer and the human are being kept apart by this low-fidelity, limited interface. If, on the other hand, this interface can operate at high speed and capture great nuance - perhaps even extending to changes in facial expression, heart rate, or fine motor responses, then we greatly increase the potential to integrate the human capabilities directly into the overall system, which means that we can then feed them back, amplify them, and use them.

When you begin to conceive of the human-system interface in this way, the whole notion of "ease of use" - this matter that we are now so obsessed with - appears, as it should, as merely a single and, in the grand scheme of things, not terribly important dimension within a much richer structure.

The key to building a more powerful capability infrastructure lies in expanding the channels and modes of communication - not simplifying them. This is very powerful, exciting stuff. If we begin to act on this notion of our relation, as humans, to these amazing machines that we have created, we really begin to open up new opportunities for growth and problem solving.”
Doug Engelbart



ENGELBART TERMS : organizational


All of the terms below are also available as blog entries in our nascent Glossary system: and are presented here simply as a brief introductory overview. There is also a glossary for further terms and projects for our DKR effort:



















For more of Doug's terminology, please refer to the 'What Is Still Missing' section.













Vint Cerf, co-invnetor of the Internet and friend of Doug's writes: “Douglas Engelbart believed that computers could be used to augment human intellect and J.C.R. Licklider agreed with him. Doug and his team manifested this belief with his oNLine System, NLS. This was a document production and sharing environment intended to enhance collaborative work expressed in document form. There were many features of the system that shaped document production to enhance the structure and style of the documents and to facilitate cross-referencing through hyperlinking. Licklider's primary contribution, among others, was to pursue computer interconnection through the ARPANET project which led to the design and development of the Internet initially designed by Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf. Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau invented the World Wide Web protocols (Hypertext Transport Protocol, HTTP and Hypertext Markup Language, HTML and servers and browsers to implement them).


In the 21st Century, we have cloud computing that offers far more computing capacity to billions of users and we are developing new artificial intelligence tools including hardware-based machine learning, multi-level neural networks, machine translation tools, pattern recognition mechanisms and a host of other capabilities. The question is how to apply these new and powerful tools in a cooperative partnership with human users to augment our intellectual capabilities. We have already seen the effects of social media in the Internet and the power of search tools to sift through the vast and growing content of the Internet/WWW. Will these tools enhance the creation and curation of human knowledge? Can they be applied to developing better models of the way the world works so as to manage scarce resources better, to distribute knowledge and capabilities more uniformly and to generally improve the human condition on a global scale? I am confident that, were he alive today, Douglas Engelbart would have answered these questions in the positive and gone on to seek ways of finding and applying those answers.


It is up to us to follow in his footsteps to seek those answers and to put them to work for the benefit of all who inhabit this precious planet, Earth. It is that vision that we will celebrate December 9, 2018.”