networks without networks

doug engelbart:

I need to quickly sketch out what I see as the goal - the way to get the significant payoff from using computers to augment what people can do. This vision of success has not changed much for me over fifty years - it has gotten more precise and detailed - but it is pointed at the same potential that I saw in the early 1950s. It is based on a very simple idea, which is that when problems are really difficult and complex - problems like addressing hunger, containing terrorism, or helping an economy grow more quickly - the solutions come from the insights and capabilities of people working together. So, it is not the computer, working alone, that produces a solution. But is the combination of people, augmented by computers. Doug Engelbart

once again, doug engelbart hits the nail on the head. yes, we humans are a very collaborative bunch. not for nothing we were able to hunt mammoths, build cities and fly to the moon. and still after half a century, this idea of augmenting human intellect with computers gets little attention. i recently found this magnificent piece by paul ford, subtitled networks without networks:

Technology is what we share. I don't mean "we share the experience of technology.” I mean: By my lights, people very often share technologies with each other when they talk. Strategies. Ideas for living our lives. We do it all the time. Parenting email lists share strategies about breastfeeding and bedtime. Quotes from the Dalai Lama. We talk neckties, etiquette, and Minecraft, and tell stories that give us guidance as to how to live. A tremendous part of daily life regards the exchange of technologies. We are good at it. It's so simple as to be invisible. Can I borrow your scissors? Do you want tickets? I know guacamole is extra. The world of technology isn't separate from regular life. It's made to seem that way because of, well... capitalism. Tribal dynamics. Territoriality. Because there is a need to sell technology, to package it, to recoup the terrible investment. So it becomes this thing that is separate from culture. A product. Paul Ford

the world of technology isn't separate from regular life. it isn't. but all too often technology is reduced to the man and the machine. i hope this line of thought changes. soon.

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