Get a Bike Mr Kagermann!

June 24, 2008 · · Posted by grl

Image's Ben Worthen quotes SAP chief executive Henning Kagermann "giving an interview in the back seat of a hybrid Mercury SUV instead of his usual Town Car, in accordance with SAP's new environmental policy". Kagermann is skeptical about the proposition that "large corporate-software projects will disappear, replaced by easy-to-use Internet-programs targeted at individual workers". Kagermann says:

... the most important features for the managers who buy business software are still a system’s security and reliability, and whether the system helps a business comply with an ever-growing number of government regulations, says Kagermann. Systems bought by individuals or departments don’t have the company-wide perspective necessary to meet these goals - The Reason It's Called Management Software,

I agree with Mr. Kagermann's points that Enterprise 2.0 software complements and connects transactional data that is stored in MRP, accounting and other traditional business applications, and complements rather than replaces transactional data stores.

Small and agile Enterprise applications work in the application gaps and cross-link silos of traditional enterprise software. By flagging issues and linking to opportunities or threats discovered in traditional systems, Enterprise 2.0 applications actually make transactional content more actionable and useful.

On Mr. Kagermann's last point - systems from small, agile suppliers are perfectly capable of meeting security, reliability and other business requirements based on a company wide perspective. And small, agile mammals discovered their niche and evolved to reshape the world of ah... dinosaurs. No offense!

A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower Strategy | Video

June 20, 2008 · · Posted by grl

I'm just back from the 2008 Current Strategy Forum at the US Naval War College in Newport. This year the topic of panels and presentations (including addresses and extensive Q&A by the Secretary of the Navy, Chief of Naval Operations and, the Commandant of the Marine Corp) was the Cooperative Strategy for 21s Century Seapower - a joint strategy for the US Marine Corp, Navy and Coast Guard. The strategy raises prevention of war - deterrence, cooperative relationships with more international partners, trust built through humanitarian assistance and disaster response - to an equal level as the conduct of war. In the very best sense this is a positioning statement: what a nation should expect from its maritime forces.

I think it's a deep and intellectually honest reflection on specific value that maritime forces can deliver in a time of uncertain conditions and rapid change. A Navy Commander who lead the team responsible for developing the strategy wrote (anonymously):

... the Naval War College and my staff began conducting the “Conversations with the Country”. We were eventually to conduct seven, in Newport, Phoenix, Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Chicago. I was a huge skeptic of these forums from the start; by the end, I saw some value in them. We relied upon several methods of creating the invitation list for these events. We started with the Naval War College Foundation mailing list—but then worked with state humanities councils, civic groups and academic groups to try and get a broad cross-section of Americans. Did we succeed? Not entirely. We got a lot of old, white guys who had military backgrounds. But we also got a lot of teachers, first responders, friends of folks in the military—just plain citizens who were just plain pleased to be asked their opinion. And that’s what we mainly did—while we jiggered with the formula over the course of the Conversations, we never wavered from the central proposition that we were there to listen.

What we learned is what we say in the strategy. They want us to remain strong, they want us to protect them here in their homeland, and they want us to work with other nations around the world to preserve peace. Sounds pretty boilerplate, right. Think again. I’ve spent a goodly part of the past 21 years working the edges of the empire; I just naturally assumed that the American public knew what we were doing out there and that they had some appreciation for why we do it. I was shocked at how wrong I was…my strongest take-away from the early conversations was that Homeland Defense and National Defense were the exact same thing to most of the people in the audience. They were concerned with porous borders, port security, and terrorists on airplanes. I did not discern a great deal of understanding as to why we were forward deployed around the world. There was only a vague sense of the importance of the Navy. - Maritime Strategy 2007: The Team Leader Speaks

I think the strategy is clearly stated, well crafted and appropriate for public review and discussion. Most importantly, I believe it can raise the level of discourse on the role of the military above purely partisan positioning. The video (below) is pretty good too!

Never before have the maritime forces of the United States—the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard—come together to create a unified maritime strategy. This strategy stresses an approach that integrates seapower with other elements of national power, as well as those of our friends and allies. It describes how seapower will be applied around the world to protect our way of life, as we join with other like-minded nations to protect and sustain the global, inter-connected system through which we prosper. Our commitment to protecting the homeland and winning our Nation’s wars is matched by a corresponding commitment to preventing war.

Our citizens were involved in development of this strategy through a series of public forums known as the “Conversations with the Country.” Three themes dominated these discussions: our people want us to remain strong; they want us to protect them and our homeland, and they want us to work with partners around the world to prevent war. These themes, coupled with rigorous academic research, analysis and debate, led to a comprehensive strategy designed to meet the expectations and needs of the American people.

A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower binds our services more closely together than they have ever been before to advance the prosperity and security of our Nation. The demands of an uncertain world and the enduring interests of the American people require nothing less.

from A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Centry Seapower (.pdf)


June 8, 2008 · · Posted by grl

To the best of my knowledge, Clay Shirky is responsible for popularizing the term Social Software. By his definition, it's primarily about patterns of connections:

... Let me offer a definition of social software, because it's a term that's still fairly amorphous. My definition is fairly simple: It's software that supports group interaction. I also want to emphasize, although that's a fairly simple definition, how radical that pattern is. The Internet supports lots of communications patterns, principally point-to-point and two-way, one-to-many outbound, and many-to-many two-way.

Prior to the Internet, we had lots of patterns that supported point-to-point two-way. We had telephones, we had the telegraph. We were familiar with technological mediation of those kinds of conversations. Prior to the Internet, we had lots of patterns that supported one-way outbound. I could put something on television or the radio, I could publish a newspaper. We had the printing press. So although the Internet does good things for those patterns, they're patterns we knew from before.

Prior to the Internet, the last technology that had any real effect on the way people sat down and talked together was the table. There was no technological mediation for group conversations. The closest we got was the conference call, which never really worked right -- "Hello? Do I push this button now? Oh, shoot, I just hung up." It's not easy to set up a conference call, but it's very easy to email five of your friends and say "Hey, where are we going for pizza?" So ridiculously easy group forming is really news.

We've had social software for 40 years at most, dated from the Plato BBS system, and we've only had 10 years or so of widespread availability, so we're just finding out what works. We're still learning how to make these kinds of things. - A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy, Clay Shirky July 1, 2003

I think the Clay's focus on groups and patterns of connections is very important to remember for two reasons:

1) Social Software is not about non-stop party time at the office.

At the Enterprise 2.0 Summit 2008 Tokyo, one of the organizers asked me to include a definition of "Social Software", since in Japan the most common uses of the English word "social" seem to center on party time, social rank, social status and similar definitions of the word "social". The temptation to think of "social" as the opposite of "work" is common in the US as well. I used Clay's definition to make the point - and got a laugh describing email as the disco ball of social software (see slides).

2) The sociology of groups and patterns of connection is a deep, rich and important topic that informs how business and other organizations really work.

Prof Andrew McAfee introduced his bullseye model to talk about strong, weak, potential, (and non-existent) ties which connect a knowledge worker and other colleagues in an enterprise. He says:

These days, after drawing the inner 3 rings of the bullseye but before discussing tools like social networking software (SNS) and a corporate blogosphere, I make two points. First, that weak ties are highly valuable, as is the process of converting a potential tie (either strong or weak) into an actual one. So anything that helps a person stay on top of their network of weak ties or convert potential ties should also be quite valuable.

Second, that prior to the 2.0 era (yes, that’s a silly phrase, but not a meaningless one) there were really no good technologies to help at the 2nd and 3rd rings of the bullseye. In other words, there were no effective digital tools for helping a knowledge worker stay on top of and/or exploit her networks of weak ties, or to indicate potentially valuable ties to her. I then go on to discuss the value of SNS for weak ties, and of a blogosphere for potential ones. - Something New Under the Sun? Andrew McAfee, May 21, 2008

I like McAfee's model, and agree with his second conclusion. The wiki (and group blog) model often supports strong ties of business groups working together with a shared purpose or common deliverable. Weak and potential ties then represent potential colleagues - or at valuable sources of expertise and situational awareness - who may or may not be aware of content, conversations and expertise happening outside their local groups.

Social networking promotes new and serendipitous connections among people (and in TeamPage 4.0 the content they create and comments they make within a business context). But the public Web - and bounded world of Enterprise 2.0 - also creates connections based on serendipitous discovery using search, syndication, and context.

Network scale search of blog content is one Web scaleable way to find out who's actively talking about or working on a topic that interests you. Once you find a relevant hit, you then have the opportunity to: 1) make a personal connection; 2) subscribe to a syndicated feed from that individual or group; 3) make your own blog post or wiki link to tell let others in your strongly connected group - and anyone else in the who can read your post - that you've found an interesting fact or connection. Blog / wiki connections make it possible to add situational context - including time based patterns of interest - to search, which is particularly valuable in the relatively small and link-poor enterprise.

Your post then becomes a new item which others can discover - or read if they subscribe to your personal or group blog / wiki - as a potentially valuable source. This weak signal amplification creates a spreading activation network that can quickly span the globe - and further extends and reinforces the network. It also reinforces the value of old fashioned and irreplaceable face to face connections by letting people keep in touch with their extended network without creating undue work for either the sender or receiver.

Without the Web's combination of blogs, wikis, search, syndication and syndication indexing there's a vanishingly small chance that I would end up with valuable (and enjoyable) near real-time connections to: Jim McGee (Chicago), Patrick Lambe (Singapore), Suw Charman (UK), Masayuki Kojima (Yokohama), Michael Sampson (New Zealand), Olivier Tripet (Switzerland), and JP Rangaswami (UK).

So "Social Software" may not mean non-stop parties in the office, but it does provide some of the enjoyment that people gain by going to conferences, business meetings - or using any other excuse - to get to know other employees, customers, consultants, competitors and scholars. You learn what they are saying and can often make valuable and long lasting connections - if not friendships - that make you more effective at your job and open opportunities for your business.

ImageThe "social" part of software in the Enterprise 2.0 opens opportunities for strongly connected groups to work together more effectively, while making valuable connections within and across the enterprise. These connections would be wildly impractical if we were limited to the physical world of airplanes, meetings and conferences, or the disco ball era of email! But the value of these connections can lead to real strategic advantage, not just reducing the cost of travel and frustrations of email.


Traction TeamPage 5.0: Social Software for Work

Blogs and Wikis: Building Customer Connections

20 June 2005 | Supernova | Why Can't a Business Work More Like the Web?

Enterprise 2.0 for Intelligence Analysts - FASTForward 08

Use of Weblogs for Competitive Intelligence | First International Business, Technology CI Conference, Tokyo Oct 2005

The work of Lee S. Sproull, Leonard N. Stern Professor of Business and Vice Dean, Stern School of Business, New York. A pioneering scholar of electronic groups, organizations, and communities.

Enterprise 2.0: Radical Change by Revolution or Mandate?

February 16, 2008 · · Posted by grl

Ross Dawson's Enterprise 2.0 will bring radical change in organisations quotes Steve Hodgkinson, Ovum research director from an article by Merri Mack writing in Voice and Data magazine:

Steve Hodgkinson, Ovum research director, sees Enterprise 2.0 as a genuine opportunity for technology to act as a catalyst for changes in organisational culture.

"Enterprise 2.0 is emerging as the most practical way of sharing and managing knowledge in a range of contexts, from team collaboration to customer self-service forums. This leads to the ability to bring about cultural change with the personal power of informal networks such as wikis, blogs, profiles and forums."

"The root of its culture change power, however, is its ability to unleash the personal power of informal networks," said Hodgkinson.

Key ideas within this new system include:

* The need for a flat organisation, rather than an organisational hierarchy
* Folksonomy rather than taxonomy
* User-driven technology rather than IT department control
* Short time-to-market cycles; to continue and increase flow
* Global teams of people, rather than locating the whole organisation in one building
* Emergent information systems, rather than dictated and structured information systems
* The opening of propriety standards

All excellent points, but don't assume that this will necessarily happen as a bottom up revolution - with employees storming the barricades - and don't assume that all top level executives are blind to the advantages of spending money - or mandating organizational change - to gain a valuable, rare, inimitable and non-substitutable advantage over their competitors. Radical change can come by mandate as well as by revolution - you may want to re-read your Machiavelli:

... it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, then to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly, in such wise that the prince is endangered along with them.

It is necessary, therefore, if we desire to discuss this matter thoroughly, to inquire whether these innovators can rely on themselves or have to depend on others: that is to say, whether, to consummate their enterprise, have they to use prayers or can they use force? In the first instance they always succeed badly, and never compass anything; but when they can rely on themselves and use force, then they are rarely endangered. Hence it is that all armed prophets have conquered, and the unarmed ones have been destroyed. - The Prince, Nicolo Machiavelli, Chapter VI.

I don't want to sound melodramatic, but just make a simple point that innovative leadership from the top of an organization can make a big difference in the prospects for successful change.

Both Andrew McAfee and Ray Lane's analysis support the proposition that C level executives can and should support change to gain these benefits - sometimes reorganizing around or eliminating middle managers who stand in the way.

McAfee notes that the advantages of making much more effective use of the expertise within your company satisfies the VRIN (valuable, rare, inimitable, and non-substitutable) criteria that businesses can use to create and sustain a unique competitive advantage.

Read McAfee's Feb 2007 post FastForwarding to a Better Understanding, Part 2, and see him make this point in his FastForward 07 keynote: Enterprise 2.0: The Next Disruptor (scroll through the list of Videos in the right side of the page to find this title)

Read Ray Lane's June 2006 Business Week interview A VC's View of Web 2.0 and see him make similar points Lane in his FASTForward 07 Keynote: The Inter Personal Enterprise (scroll through the list of Videos in the right side of the page to find this title)

Note also that Traction's first Pharma success was driven by an innovative CIO acting directly on his CEO's mandate to rethink and reshape Competitive Intelligence information for the company, see 13 June 2005 | Dark Blogs Case Study #1 - A European Pharmaceutical Group.

Speaking of FASTForward ...

If you're headed to FASTForward '08 in Orlando next week, I'll be speaking on Competitive Intelligence Analysts as examples of hard core knowledge workers in the Tuesday 19 Feb 1:45PM Session: Implementing Content-Based Collaborative Applications, see my abstract and slides in 19 Feb 2008 | Greg Lloyd on "Enterprise 2.0 for Intelligence Analysts", FASTForward 08.

The FASTForward '08 agenda looks great, and the conference will be almost twice as big as last year's FASTForward. See you there!

My notes and slides from last year's FASTForward: Information Foraging at FASTForward '07

Beyond blogs and wikis

May 2, 2006 · · Posted by grl

I really like David Berlind's post IBM's Suitor asks how you share documents. Wrong question, right time (May 2, 2006). David makes a great points including: "Think about freeing your knowledge. Then worry about the format (after your thinking leads you to regular document land)." But I think David edges close to a similar problem in characterizing blogs vs. wiki's - particularly with respect to Traction and other products which purposefully blur the boundaries.

David says:

For all intents and purposes, wikis are blogs that have exchanged the diary-like posting format for the ability to let multiple users edit the same piece of content (aka: collaborating on knowledge). In other words, instead of sending a editable document around, host it as a Web page that anybody with access to the wiki can edit. Wikis also support RSS (notify me when this wiki page changes). Revisions can be tracked and restored. Content can be edited with user-friendly WYSIWYG tools. Traditional content management systems, look out

Traction TeamPage and some blog products support collaborative editing of posts using both WYSIWYG tools and RSS syndication. SocialText blurs the lines starting from a wiki model by adding features that make it useable as blog.

Traction starts from the blog end of the spectrum (actually it started from link Doug Engelbart's concept of a hypertext Journal) in that it records collaboration over time. But, the knowledge product of the collaboration - represented as a web of editable pages, office or CAD files - can be recorded and versioned in Traction along with the external intelligence and internal dialog about the creation and evolution of the product. The knowledge product can also reside in an external repository and become the subject of dialog using links from Traction. Both the dialog and knowledge product are typically created and edited as a purposeful group activity.

Traction maintains a full audit trail (of labels added/removed as well as edits), built in WebDAV versioning of files attached to posts, and integrated WebDAV web folders with simple linear file versioning (see eContent's 2004 story). I agree that this is a disruptive alternative to high priced and high complexity content management systems, because that's what customers are telling us - integrated WebDAV was funded by a customer.

Traction's Release 3.7 adds MediaWiki style difference display and one click revision support to Traction's content and action audit trail.

I believe that any successful challenge to the document centric collaboration model will need to support collaboration in place (group editing of the same page); collaboration over time (commentary and conversation in context); and real-time collaboration (IM and syndicated notification).

All three modes of interaction can work together effectively using RSS/Atom for syndication, IM for notification, syndication search (like Technorati), collaborative tagging, and a compatible framework for permissioned access - which is critical for business use, and important for groups of friends, family and other associations. It's the combination of ingredients that offers the hope for collaborative systems that scale like the web.

Traction Software's products are based on a model of group group editing in place combined with group collaboration over time that pre-dates blogs and Wiki's by over 40 years - see Traction Roots - Doug Engelbart. For more information on Douglas Engelbart, the Godfather of effective collaboration, see Doug's Wikipedia page.

For notes from John Blossom's lively panel on blogs, wiki's and IM for collaboration see Personal Knowledge Management: Building Actionable Content from Collaborative Publishing and John's Personal Knowledge Management Tools Ready for Enterprise Use.

For 60 years of history in four one paragraph steps, see The Evolution of Personal Knowledge Management

See also Enterprise 2.0 - Letting hypertext out of its box.

Use of Weblogs for Competitive Intelligence | First International Business, Technology CI Conference, Tokyo Oct 2005

April 26, 2006 · · Posted by grl

Over the past fifty years, the inspiration of hypertext systems has been the challenge of dealing with an ever-increasing volume of information. With the advent of the World Wide Web (WWW) as a near universal platform for commercial and scientific information, it is now possible to use the WWW as a platform for collecting, analyzing, disseminating and receiving feedback on competitive intelligence and other valuable business information. This paper will use examples of weblog deployment for competitive intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry to examine broader challenge of enabling enterprises to more effectively deal with the ever increasing volume of critical business information in general.

Use of Weblogs for Competitive Intelligence (full paper 853K .pdf)
by Greg Lloyd
The First International Conference/Workshop on Business, Technology and Competitive Intelligence
Nihon University, Tokyo 25 Oct 2005


Weblogs (or “blogs”) are best known as personal daybooks on the web written by an individual consisting of a “collection of clippings, musings and other things like journal entries that strike one's fancy or titillate one's curiosity. What makes this online daybook different from the commonplace book is that this form of personal noodling or diary-writing is on the Internet, with links that take the reader around the world in pursuit of more about a topic” Safire, (2002).

Weblogs gained mass media attention as personally published websites written by amateur reporters, pundits – or teenagers. For example, anyone can sign up for a free personal or low cost personal weblog from As of August 2005 hosted over 2,600,000 active weblogs, 85% written persons by persons 20 years old or younger, see LiveJournal (2005). As of the end of July 2005, reported that it was tracking over 14.2 million weblogs, about double the number tracked in March 2005, see Sifry (2005). Weblogs are part of an emerging infrastructure that uses the global Internet as a massively scalable platform to disseminate information in a form that can be easily written, read, correlated, and commented on by anyone with the skills necessary to use a web browser.

This paper presents the following thesis:

1) The World Wide Web’s shift to medium that is generally writable as well as readable represents a return to the original vision of the WWW and hypertext systems that pre-date the Web.

2) Weblog technology will not be limited to personal use, but holds the potential to profoundly change the way that commercial and government enterprises handle internally facing and externally facing working communication.

3) Collection, analysis, and dissemination are classic parts of the Competitive Intelligence (CI) process, and particularly well suited to the strengths of weblog technology.

4) Weblog technology can deliver a higher volume of CI alerts and analysis to a wider audience more effectively than email or any known alternative.

By creating easily authored content and commentary within the weblog and linking to any Web addressable content, weblogs create an open and scalable resource that can be used for notification and reference, as well as mined for historical insight across the largest enterprise. ...

Weblog - the NLS Journal Revisited

The central thesis of this paper is that the weblog format provides a stable, open journal, which links and comments on the intelligence, dialog, and work product contained within the weblog, while connecting to all sources addressable on the public or a private Web.

Because the weblog is itself part of the public (or private) Web it can preserve a stable, addressable set of references, which can be linked to by any other Web source, or analyzed by any application that has permission to address that weblog’s content. This interoperability addresses Engelbart’s primary concern about proprietary and opaque representations (the norm prior to the Web) creating silos of information that would make universal linking and interchange difficult or impossible.

The time ordered and uniquely identifiable articles (or posts) within the weblog correspond directly to individual documents with the NLS Journal. Like documents in the Journal, articles with the weblog should either be read-only, or include revision history.

Any link to content external to the weblog is subject to the same uncertainty as any other link in Berners-Lee’s web – content can change or abruptly disappear at the whim of the publisher, by accident, or if the publisher goes out of business. This limitation does not generally apply to Web addressable resources that have lasting commercial value, or Web addressable resources created and maintained in stable repositories such as Enterprise Content Management or line of business systems managed by businesses for their public or private use.

It is also possible to deploy weblog products that can clip and retain an independent record of valuable but potentially transitory facts or documents (used subject to copyright law), or post a brief independent summary to a weblog.

The last point is worth analyzing. Any information posted to the public Web can be discovered and commented on by any person with an interest and a free weblog. The fact that a person or organization posted an item mentioning any phrase or URL in one of over 14 million weblogs monitored by (or one of their competitors) can be reported to anyone with a (free) account in near real time via an RSS subscription. See Sifry (2005).

Millions of human eyes and their agents constantly scan and evaluate items posted to the public Web using Web search, notification, and social tagging engines to focus on a particular topic. When a person finds a “momentarily important item” [Bush (1945, p. 1)] by directed search or serendipity, it is simple to post a note and link to that item on their weblog. If the item is of genuine interest, the weblog post will be discovered and discussed by others, a social process that amplifies a weak signal and can add collaborative information.

A note and link from a weblog also adds a measure of statistical redundancy to the unreliable Web. Although the content of an arbitrary Web resource referenced by the weblog post could be changed or disappear at any time, if the original content is noticed, linked to and commented on by one or more persons, a secondary record of the original content may remain in a form that is difficult to eliminate (for legal content) and easy to find.

Like Berners-Lee’s original concept of the Web, use of weblogs and wikis as easily deployed and relatively stable authored indices to arbitrary Web content is a pragmatic compromise. The Web’s naturally evolving infrastructure provides complementary Web search, RSS/ATOM syndication, notification and search, augmenting the loose but massively scaleable architecture of the Word Wide Web. ...

Copyright © 2005 Gregory R. Lloyd
Some rights reserved, distributed under terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Full Paper (853KB .pdf)
Abstract and Reference sections
Powerpoint slides and additional references (6.8MB .ppt)

Traction Roots - Doug Engelbart

April 9, 2006 · · Posted by grl

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 ( 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


Tricycles vs. Training Wheels

February 2, 2006 · · Posted by grl

In Infoworld, Jon Udell writes When it comes to increasing human productivity, user interfaces aren't one size fits all and cites Doug Engelbart:

"Easy-to-use computer systems, as we conventionally understand them, are not what Engelbart had in mind. You might be surprised to learn that he regards today’s one-size-fits-all GUI as a tragic outcome. That paradigm, he said in a talk at Accelerating Change 2004, has crippled our effort to augment human capability.

High-performance tasks require high-performance user interfaces specially designed for those tasks. Instead of making every task lie on the Procrustean bed of the standard GUI, we should be inventing new, task-appropriate interfaces. No, they won’t work for everyone. Yes, they’ll require effort to learn. But in every domain there are some experts who will invest that effort in order to achieve greater mastery. We need to do more to empower those people. ..."

I agree, and second Jon's suggestion that we all should look carefully at Doug's goals and analysis. Doug's consistent position since the 1960's has been: valuable skills that make people productive have a learning curve, but may provide the only means to effectively augment ones capabilities. Doug often uses the analogy: Riding a bicycle - unlike a tricycle - is a skill that requires a modest degree of practice (and a few spills), but the rider of a bicycle quickly outpaces the rider of a tricycle.

Alan Kay (the godfather of Smalltalk and the PARC interface) picked up on this theme during a talk and panel discussion at the MIT Bush Symposium: 50 Years After As We May Think, quotes below (watch the video it's great). Doug's hard core position on this point has likely been one of the factors which limited acceptance and adoption of Augment/NLS [Doug's 1968 hypertext system for which he invented the mouse and chord keyboard].

From today's perspective, Augment/NLS suffered from a learning wall rather than a learning curve. Thirty years ago, Augment/NLS users had to understand, learn, practice, and use an entirely new and unfamiliar set of paradigms for communication (and typing - if you wanted to use Doug's chord set along with the mouse). The rewards were great, but the steepness of the path required heroic dedication.

The great challenge is: finding an effective strategy to get people moving in a direction that delivers on the promise of Engelbart's Augment/NLS systems for highly skilled and dedicated teams - who reap the greatest benefit from a deep product - while making the entry point simple and clear to a naive or disinterested user.

Over thirty years later, we have the luxury of building on top of the experience and social as well as technological infrastructure of the web. We need to make the entry barriers are as invisible as we can, and make each step up the experience ramp deliver greater and greater return.

This makes interface design much more challenging, but worth the effort.

In the same panel, Alan Kay said: "I characterize what we have today as a wonderful bike with training wheels on that nobody knows they are on so nobody is trying to take them off".

I think it's better to build software with training wheels that are easy to recognize and remove, than to continue to build tricycles that no-one can grow out of. As Alan says, its a terrible mistake to assume that kids and and grownups will not spend the time to acquire new skills, so long as the payoff is great enough and mastery of the skill is itself a source of enjoyment. Mastery of Emacs can be just as enjoyable and rewarding as mastery of a video game.

Alan Kay: ... If you have ever seen anybody use NLS [Engelbart's 1968 hypertext system for which he invented the mouse and chord key set] it is really marvelous cause you're kindof flying along through the stuff several commands a second and there's a complete different sense of what it means to interact than you have today. I characterize what we have today as a wonderful bike with training wheels on that nobody knows they are on so nobody is trying to take them off. I just feel like we're way way behind where we could have been if it weren't for the way commercialization turned out.

Doug Engelbart: Well, strangely enough, I feel the same. It's part of the thing of the easy to learn and natural to use thing that became sortof a god to follow and the marketplace is driving it and its successful and you could market on that basis, but some of the diagrams pictures that I didn't quite get to the other day was how do you ever migrate from a tricycle to a bicycle because a bicycle is very unnatural and very hard to learn compared to a tricycle, and yet in society it has superseded all the tricycles for people over five years old. So the whole idea of high-performance knowledge work is yet to come up and be in the domain. Its still the orientation of automating what you used to do instead of moving to a whole new domain in which you are going to obviously going to learn quite a few new skills. And so you make analogies of suppose you wanted to move up to the ski slopes and be mobile on skis. Well, just visiting them for an afternoon is not going to do it. So, I'd love to have photographs of skateboards and skis and windsurfing and all of that to show you what people can really if they have a new way supplied by technology to be mobile in a different environment. None of that could be done if people insisted that it was an easy-to-learn thing. ...

Alan Kay: Looking back I think that one of the paradoxes is that we made a complete mistake when we were doing the interface at PARC because we assumed that the kids would need an easy interface because we were going to try and teach them to program and stuff like that, but in fact they are the ones who are willing to put hours into getting really expert at things - shooting baskets, learning to hit baseballs, learning to ride bikes, and now on video games. I have a four-year old nephew who is really incredible and he could use NLS [Engelbart's 1968 hypertext system] fantastically if it were available He would be flying through that stuff because his whole thing is to become part of the system he's interacting with and so if I had had that perspective I would have designed a completely different interface for the kids, one in which how you became expert was much more apparent than what I did. So I'm sorry for what I did.

quotes from: Brown/MIT Vannevar Bush Symposium - 50th Anniversary of As We May Think, Notes from the Panels, see the video.

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

See also Doug Engelbart | 85th Birthday Jan 30, 2010
And here's what Enterprise 2.0 looked like in 1968 | Dealing lightning with both hands...

Page Top