Chris Nuzum Hyperkult XXV Video | Tripping Up Memory Lane

May 15, 2016 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageWatch this video of Chris Nuzum's Tripping Up Memory Lane talk at Hyperkult 2015, University of Lüneburg, 10 July 2015. Traction Software CTO and co-founder Chris Nuzum reviews hypertext history, his experience as a hypertext practitioner, and the core principles of Traction TeamPage.

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Live video Christopher Nuzum: Tripping up Memory Lane Hyperkult XXV
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"Thoughtvectors in Concept Space badge" by @iamTalkyTina my posts | thoughtvectors.net

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Tripping Up Memory Lane - Chris Nuzum's written notes for his Hyperkult XXV talk.

Traction Roots - Doug Engelbart - About Doug Engelbart's Journal and Traction.

Original Traction Product Proposal - Hypertext roots and evolution of Traction TeamPage.

Doug Engelbart | 85th Birthday Jan 30, 2010 - "Doug Engelbart sat under a twenty-two-foot-high video screen, "dealing lightning with both hands." At least that's the way it seemed to Chuck Thacker, a young Xerox PARC computer designer who was later shown a video of the demonstration that changed the course of the computer world."

Thought Vectors - Ted Nelson: Art not Technology - "To give up on human understanding is to give up hope, what we call in English 'a counsel of despair.' I think there is hope for much better and more powerful software designs that will give ordinary people the power over computers that they have always wanted - power with complete understanding. But that requires inspired software design, which I believe is art and not technology."

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style - The social dance of getting things done, dealing with exceptions, and staying aware of what’s going on around you

Original Traction Product Proposal

August 24, 2015 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

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I hope you'll enjoy reading the original Traction Product Proposal, dated October 1997. Many early Traction concepts carried over directly to the Teampage product first commercially released in July 2002, but we've also learned a lot since then - as you might hope! The quotes still make me smile. The Proposal and Annotated References may be helpful to students interested in the history and evolution of hypertext.

Motivated by Chris Nuzum's recent Tripping Up Memory Lane talk at HyperKult 2015, and Takashi's Design Concepts followup, I'm happy to continue the Traction history theme. I've removed the Confidential markings from the Proposal, and released it under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial license (CC BY-NC 4.0), so you're welcome to read and use it for non-commercial purposes with attribution. Please link directly to this blog post.

Traction Software folk may make occasional blog posts referencing the Traction History project on this blog or on Twitter. Please follow @TractionTeam on Twitter, and feel free to message me as @roundtrip if you have questions.

The scribbled picture above from about the same time was my visualization of the Traction goal: To link and use anything that would cross a business person's desk using the Web as a platform, rather limiting hypertext to content stuffed inside silos like Lotus Notes.

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When we introduced Teampage in 2002, the word "blog" was often dogmatically defined as the unedited voice of a person. It was a tough slog to introduce a chronological stream of content created by a group of people rather than a single individual. The concept of an activity stream or Slack channel - a group of people talking in a shared space or channel - better captures what Teampage does.

Teampage extends the concept of an activity stream or channel to include:

  1. Editable entries with a full audit trail, including wiki history
  2. An extensible family of entry types (task, status, ...) and relationships (comment, ...)
  3. Dashboard and other views that collect, organize, and show entries in context
  4. A unified permission model that makes it simple to roll up entries across spaces and navigate or search by topic, context, author, or other criteria, see The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style

Clay Shirky got the concept in his 2003 review: Traction: Weblogs grow up in Social Software: A New Generation of Tools, Release 1.0 Vol 21, No. 5 (pdf). So did Jon Udell in his 2002 InfoWorld review: Getting Traction Traction's enterprise Weblog system gets a grip on corporate KM.

"Somewhere around your 30th responses to a response to a response in Notes, you start to wonder where all this group discussion leads. Somewhere around the fifth time a document marches by with yet more groupware annotations and digital yellow stickies attached, you wonder if it is really all that wise to have all of that group editing taking place. After all, isn’t the purpose of a group to tap the greater intellect represented by all those fine thingies in the group and, once tapped, move quickly to a better decision? Shouldn’t the purpose of groupware be to build more intelligence rather than more features into the product?

While it’s useful to share documents, hold ad hoc discussions and post groupwide projects, the essence of groupware may be the ability to manage a business outcome by divining a group's thought process."

Eric Lundquist, The Next Big Thing in Groupware PC Week 1 July 1996.
Team Problem Solving from Traction Product Proposal Oct 1997 

The core concept was granted US Patent 7,593,954.

The original business case for Teampage cited project work as the most important use. We've learned that it's valuable give people a straightforward way to link action tracking, messaging, and collaborative content creation. By creating and tracking tasks that can be directly attached to Teampage or external content, it's easy to see and stay on top of what's happening for you, by person, by channel, or in context of a specific Teampage project.

We learned how to model permissions to extend work across many internal as well as external groups such as the clients of a consulting firm, or the suppliers and customers of a manufacturer. The Teampage model of multiple permissioned spaces was added soon after the 1997 proposal. You can focus on any space (like a channel) as well as search and navigate across all spaces and entries you have permission to see.

By adding individual and group permissions to a space with an ACL model, internal and external groups share the same Teampage server while seeing and participating in just the set of projects and activities that are appropriate for every individual. Comment, task, and tags can cross spaces - so it's simple for internal team members to have a more private discussion linked to a specific paragraph of page or question posted by an external customer. Streams, discussions, notifications, digests, navigation, and search all obey the permissions defined by business rules enforced at the core level.

Email and Teampage has an interesting history. The 1997 proposal describes Traction as an alternative to broadcast email, but cites email as an important source for information to be be recorded and shared. An emailed Digest was one of the first features added to TeamPage based a beta customer's request. The Digest includes title links and content snippets gathered from the stream of events posted since the previous Digest was emailed. The content of each Digest is clipped to conform to what that person is permitted to see.

The Digest remains a popular features of Teampage, later augmented by email notifications with auto threaded email replies: your reply to a Teampage email notification is posted as a comment by you, linked at the right point in the discussion thread - requested by major consulting firm. I agree with Alan Lepofsky's point that email is one of many channels for messsages: we should flip our perspective to the stream of messages rather than the channel used to deliver each message, see Takashi's Eat your spinach post.

This combination of capabilities is particularly valuable for projects that intertwingle collaborative writing, team communication, and action tracking such as: quality management, product development, product support, consulting, and competitive intelligence. See The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style and Teampage Solutions.

A note on links: Although some of the links in the proposal still work, many point to sites which have been moved, including Doug Engelbart references which have moved from bootstrap.org to dougengelbart.org. In most cases a bit of creative Googling will find the referenced page in a different location. If people are interested, I'll publish an editable version of the Annotation References section that can be used to share updated locations. Please message @roundtrip on Twitter if you're interested and willing to pitch in to tracking down current references. Sigh.

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"Thoughtvectors in Concept Space badge" by @iamTalkyTina my posts | thoughtvectors.net

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Tripping Up Memory Lane - Hyperkult 2015: Hypertext lessons learned talk by Traction Software CTO and Co-founder Chris Nuzum

Teampage hypertext journal: Design concepts, by Takashi Okutsu Director of Traction Software's Japanese Business Office

Traction Roots - Doug Engelbart - About Doug Engelbart's Journal and Traction.

Enterprise 2.0 - Letting hypertext out of its box - "I believe that the radical departure is the Web as the context of work: the universal medium, universal library, universal marketplace, and universal platform for personal as well as enterprise communication... In every previous generation hypertext system, the ability to read, search, link and communicate came with a terrible price: it might work well, but only if you were willing to put everything you wanted to work with into some sealed box, and convince everyone you wanted to work with to use the same box. From the earliest days of Vannevar Bush's Memex, the vision was universal, but the implementation was a siloed."

Intertwingled Work - Working and scaling like the Web. "... in the past, conversations could only be intertwingled across paper memos, faxes, written reports and email. Until the advent of the Web it wasn't possible to intertwingle conversations, networks, analysis and work in near-real time and global scale. Now that's trivial and essentially free with basic Web access."

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style - The social dance of getting things done, dealing with exceptions, and staying aware of what’s going on around you

Teampage hypertext journal: Design concepts, by Takashi Okutsu

August 7, 2015 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

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Takashi Okutsu of Traction Software's Japanese Business Office wrote a blog post, Teampage hypertext journal: Design concepts. Starting from Chris Nuzum's Tripping Up Memory Lane presentation, Takashi explains how TeamPage's append-only journal models editable content, links, and relationships − while maintaining a full audit trail. See this Google English translation.

Teampage's model was inspired by the work of Doug Engelbart, who in 1975 wrote:

Our Journal system was conceived by this author in about 1966. I wanted an underlying operational process, for use by individuals and groups, that would help bring order into the time stream of the Augmented Knowledge workers. The term "journal" emerged early in the conceptualization process for two reasons:

  1. I felt it important in many dynamic operations to keep a log (sometimes termed a "journal") that chronicles events by means of a series of unchangeable entries (for instance, to log significant events while evolving a Plan, shaping up a project, trouble-shooting a large operation. or monitoring on-going operations). These entries would be preserved in original form, serving as the grist for later integration into more organized treatments.
  2. I also wanted something that would serve essentially the same recorded-dialogue purpose as I perceived a professional journal (plus library) to do.

Compcon 75 Digest, Sep 1975 pp 173-178, Douglas C. Engelbart THE NLS JOURNAL SYSTEM see the full paper, courtesy of the Doug Engelbart Institute.

Working from Chris's presentation notes (pdf), Takashi explains how to Teampage builds on Engelbart's model to support editable, stable two-way links, relationships, and content.

Takashi uses an animation cel analogy to illustrate how the effect of multiple entries in a TeamPage journal can be superimposed to show the effect edits at any point in time. For more detail, see Teampage's US Patent 7,593,954.

Related

Tripping Up Memory Lane Traction Software co-founder and CTO Chris Nuzum talk on hypertext lessons learned, Hyperkult 2015 conference, Lüneburg Germany, 10 July 2015

Traction Roots - Doug Engelbart About Doug Engelbart's Journal

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style Understand how TeamPage connects people and their work

Tripping Up Memory Lane

July 16, 2015 · · Posted by Christopher Nuzum

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Last week I gave a talk at the Hyperkult 2015 conference. It was an honor to present there, especially since it was the 25th and final time the conference was held. This was my proposal for the talk:

Sometimes it seems like collaborative software projects are designed in an ahistorical vacuum. Like all our ideas are new. Maybe that’s because so much software is designed by young people fresh out of computer science programs heavy in programming and data structures, but often paying little more obeisance to the history of software than to acknowledge that once people programmed on punch cards, however that worked.

In 1996, after celebrating the 50th Anniversary of As We May Think at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and inspired by a long, encouraging talk with Doug Engelbart, I co-founded Traction Software (originally Twisted Systems, Inc.) and set out to design a memex-inspired literary machine for the augmentation of collective intelligence. In this talk, I’d like to demonstrate how the Traction Hypertext Journaling Engine underlying Traction Software’s TeamPage product borrows from and builds on insights and ideas from Vannevar Bush, Doug Engelbart, and Ted Nelson. I’ll also talk a bit about what ideas we’ve abandoned and why, and end with some thoughts on ideas that I think haven’t yet had their day.

I'd never given a talk in Germany before, but since the German word Vorlesung means "reading", I thought I had better be prepared with something I could read, even though that's not how I'm used to presenting.

For anyone interested, I've posted the script I prepared for the talk: Tripping Up Memory Lane Script.pdf (14.2MB). The PDF also includes high-resolution versions of the images I used in my slides.

I hope you'll enjoy.

Update: See the University of Lüneburg's video of this talk. Adobe Flash required for Chrome and Internet Explorer 10 and older.

Enterprise 2.0 - Letting hypertext out of its box

April 24, 2007 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Image In his Mar 26, 2006 post, Putting Enterprise 2.0 in Perspective, Mike Gotta agrees with Tom Davenport and Andrew McAfee that a balanced discussion of E2.0 should include "... how well an enterprise addresses the complex organizational dynamics that often inhibit change," not just "irrational exuberance regarding the technology."

That said, Mike has a slight disagreement with Andrew McAfee on the evolutionary versus revolutionary nature of E2.0 technology. McAfee says:

"My optimism, and my interest in the component technologies of E2.0, comes not (solely) from my inherent geekiness, but from the fact that these technologies really are something new under the sun. They’re not extensions or enhancements to previous generations of corporate tools for collaboration and knowledge management; instead, they’re radical departures from them. Technology platforms that are initially freeform and eventually emergent, that require no nerd skills to use, and that contain the SLATES elements I proposed a while back were born on the Internet just a couple years ago, and are now starting to make their way behind the firewall." - Andrew McAfee, I STILL Agree with Tom, And yet …

Gotta replies: ".. Tools emerging under the category of social software are benefiting from common application, infrastructure and network services that were not mature in the eighties and nineties. ... It is true that originally Notes was a self-contained environment (some would call it monolithic). Notes came with its own infrastructure, complete with its own repository and even dial capabilities for mobile users. At the time, directory, storage and other infrastructure services were not readily accessible to applications in any consistent fashion. Today, we would not engineer a product in that manner but there was no other option back then."

Gotta concludes: "Today, we have a new set of design criteria that allows us to focus on the social aspects of how people work together, share information and communicate across groups and networks. That design criteria exploits a more mature collection of application, infrastructure and networking services. Much of E.20 technology is evolutionary and in some ways, inevitable."

Characteristically, I agree with both of them. With Andrew, I believe there is a "radical departure" that distinguishes E2.0 technology from Lotus Notes, Groupwise, Intermedia, Hypercard, FRESS, Augment, HES and every other groupware and hypertext system. With Mike, I agree that: "As lower-level services become taken for granted, designers and developers are able to focus on software that exposes functionality that we now call 'Enterprise 2.0'."

I believe that the radical departure is the Web as the context of work: the universal medium, universal library, universal marketplace, and universal platform for personal as well as enterprise communication. After the rapid adoption of the read-mostly Web, we've seen the first use and rapid evolution of the Web as a platform for self and social expression.

Why not for work? I have nothing against new forms of self and social expression as emergent behavior in the workplace, but how about using Enterprise 2.0 technology for the every day work required to design, build, sell and maintain a product or deliver a service?

I believe the primary barrier to Enterprise 2.0 adoption for an established business purpose is The 9X Email Problem rather than hierarchy and a command and control mindset. And I believe that the Web as the context for work is what surmounts the 9X problem by exposing almost all of the relevant working communication and context to search, links, authoring, tags, extensions, and signals (McAfee's SLATES, see his 2006 Enterprise 2.0 the Dawn of Emergent Collaboration).

In every previous generation hypertext system from HES through Lotus Notes, the ability to read, search, link and communicate came with a terrible price: it might work well, but only if you put everything you wanted to work with into some sealed box, and convince everyone you wanted to work with to use the same box. From the earliest days of Vannevar Bush's Memex, the vision was universal, but implementations were a siloed. As Ted Nelson once said on the folly of using computers to simulate paper, Xerox PARC's paper simulation was followed by Apple's contribution:

"By tying little pictures of paper to files and the programs that created the files - Apple made things even worse. Now, instead of programs designed to work with just about any kind of file - mixing, matching and combining actions to do what people want - you have:

  • A program, and
  • A software company that owns the program
  • For every kind of file

Not just a simulation of paper, but multiple, incompatible simulations of paper!"

But the Web over the universal Internet turned the world-view of Lotus Notes (and the Sharepoint stack) inside out: no proprietary client, no proprietary representation, no requirement to work inside the proprietary box - and every motivation to make anything valuable you create or deliver compatible with the least common denominator representation outside the box: URL addressable HTML.

Core Web technology is not radical: http, HTML and the first generation of read / write web browsers and web servers could have been layered over the first generation DARPANet in the 1970's. Berners-Lee's URL and HTML Web framework is simpler than the corporate point-to-point communication infrastructure that preceded it (PROFS anybody?), and much simpler than the hypertext systems of the 1980's and 90's.

Enterprise 2.0 tools work because they use the basic Web as a platform that does not limit discourse, and can make the content of even the most specialized line of business systems more valuable by linking to them in context. For example, market forces drive makers of ERP systems, CAD repositories and analytic systems to at least make their content viewable and linkable using the Web. That's all that's necessary to add a link from a blog or wiki to a contextually relevant object or report. Search, links, authoring, tags, extensions and signals provide a mechanism for "weak signal amplification" and discovery that works even at internet scale, and can work at the intranet scale as the enterprise becomes a link friendly environment.

With appropriate attention to consistent identity and permissioned access, the same principles open up working communication between the internal stakeholders of an enterprise and their external customers, suppliers, resellers, clients, sponsors and advisors - all for goal directed behavior that even the most hardheaded manager can understand as valid and a potential competitive advantage.

For thoughts on extending SLATES technologies with permissioned access to internal and external stakeholders, see Why Can't a Business Work More Like the Web? (.pdf), and Flip Test 1971 | Email versus Journal

For more on Ted Nelson, see John Markoff's Jan 11, 2008 NY Times profile In Venting, a Computer Visionary Educates and Ted's own words in his newly published book Geeks Bearing Gifts: How the Computer World Got this Way.

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Traction Roots - Doug Engelbart

April 9, 2006 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

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The source of the term Journal for the Traction TeamPage database is Douglas Engelbart's NLS system (later renamed Augment), which Doug developed in the 1960's as one of the first hypertext systems. Traction's time ordered database, entry + item ID addressing, and many Traction concepts were directly inspired by Doug's work. I'd also claim that Doug's Journal is the first blog - dating from 1969.

More importantly, Doug's aim has never been "content management" or some buzzword - it's been improving the performance of teams dealing with complex and challenging tasks - "raising their collective IQ". Augmenting human intelligence is a challenging and noble goal for social software.

In the late 1960's Doug created the Journal (along with the mouse, shared-screen interactive hypertext and video, dynamic outlining and many other inventions) to support the needs of high performance, problem solving teams.

Doug’s first hypertext Journaling systems were deployed as part of the original ARPANet Network Information Center (NIC), starting with ARPANet Node 3 at SRI - i.e. the third node on what we know as the Internet.

I’ve known and admired Doug’s work starting as an undergraduate Computer Science student using Andy van Dam and Ted Nelson's first hypertext system at Brown (1969). I had the privilege of meeting and working with Doug in the late 1980’s when he and Andy became members of Context Corporation's technical advisory board (Context was a commercial hypertext editing and publishing system with built in change tracking and early SGML support, used for aircraft maintenance manuals and similar applications).

Doug and Andy would visit Context in Portland OR every quarter for a three day meeting - on Context's plans, their advice, and their perspective on hypertext history and evolution. We also enjoyed meals and conversation. I'll always remember Doug's quiet and smiling manner as well as his incredible determination, deep understanding, moral commitment, and pioneering vision. He was and remains a hero to me.

My advice - if you want to invent the future of the web and social software, carefully read what Doug, Andy, Ted and Alan Kay have written. Their wikipedia bio's are a good starting point - I'll post a few favorite quotes here.

See the Doug Engelbart Foundation site (DougEngelbart.org) for Doug's current work, links to many of his papers, and November 2000 National Medal of Technology Award citation . A few of my favorite quotes:

In 1975 Doug wrote:

Our Journal system was conceived by this author in about 1966. I wanted an underlying operational process, for use by individuals and groups, that would help bring order into the time stream of the Augmented Knowledge workers. The term "journal" emerged early in the conceptualization process for two reasons:

  1. I felt it important in many dynamic operations to keep a log (sometimes termed a "journal") that chronicles events by means of a series of unchangeable entries (for instance, to log significant events while evolving a Plan, shaping up a project, trouble-shooting a large operation. or monitoring on-going operations). These entries would be preserved in original form, serving as the grist for later integration into more organized treatments.
  2. I also wanted something that would serve essentially the same recorded-dialogue purpose as I perceived a professional journal (plus library) to do.

Compcon 75 Digest, Sep 1975 pp 173-178, Douglas C. Engelbart THE NLS JOURNAL SYSTEM see the full paper, courtesy of the Doug Engelbart Institute.

In 1992 Doug wrote:

A result of this continuous knowledge process is a dynamically evolving knowledge base as shown in Figure-7 below, consisting of three primary knowledge domains: intelligence, dialog records, and knowledge products (in this example, the design and support documents for a complex product).

  • Intelligence Collection: An alert project group, whether classified as an A, B, or C Activity, always keeps a watchful eye on its external environment, actively surveying, ingesting, and interacting with it. The resulting intelligence is integrated with other project knowledge on an ongoing basis to identify problems, needs, and opportunities which might require attention or action.
  • Dialog Records: Responding effectively to needs and opportunities involves a high degree of coordination and dialog within and across project groups. This dialog, along with resulting decisions, is integrated with other project knowledge on a continuing basis.
  • Knowledge Product: The resulting plans provide a comprehensive picture of the project at hand, including proposals, specifications, descriptions, work breakdown structures, milestones, time lines, staffing, facility requirements, budgets, and so on. These documents, which are iteratively and collaboratively developed, represent the knowledge products of the project team, and constitute both the current project status and a roadmap for implementation and deployment. The CODIAK process is rarely a one-shot effort. Lessons learned, as well as intelligence and dialog, must be constantly analyzed, digested, and integrated into the knowledge products throughout the life cycle of the project.

Image Figure-7:: The CODIAK process -- collaborative, dynamic, continuous.

Figure 7 itemizes the evolving knowledge base within three categories: (1) Dialog Records: memos, status reports, meeting minutes, decision trails, design rationale, change requests, commentary, lessons learned, (2) External Intelligence: articles, books, reports, papers, conference proceedings, brochures, market surveys, industry trends, competition, supplier information, customer information, emerging technologies, new techniques (3) Knowledge Products: proposals, plans, budgets, legal contracts, milestones, time lines, design specs, product descriptions, test plans and results, open issues.

from 'Toward High-Performance Organizations: A Strategic Role for Groupware' Douglas C. Engelbart, Bootstrap Institute, June 1992 (AUGMENT,132811) see the full paper, courtesy of the Doug Engelbart Foundation

[ quoted from grl1427, Greg Lloyd's private TSI blog post of August 2002 ]

Update Remembering Doug Engelbart, 30 January 1925 - 2 July 2013

Related

5 November 1997 | The Godfather: The Manhattan Project, Silicon Valley, The World Wide Web

ImageWherever you look in the information age, Vannevar Bush was there first... Some ambitious efforts to tame the Web's chaos are avowedly inspired by Bush. At Twisted Systems Inc. in Providence, Rhode Island, engineer Gregory Lloyd is designing better ways to record a user's associations between different Web sites. "There are Web tools that manage bookmarks, that help you find your place," Lloyd says. "Bookmarks are a start. But then the problem is managing your bookmarks. They can degenerate into a slush pile, which is not what Bush wanted." Lloyd is tight-lipped about his work toward a solution, but says flatly, "I'm building a memex, the holy grail." » Read More