One measure of the value of a book is the change in one's perception as a result of reading it. This book scores high. I can no more now look even at the lowly pencil through the same eyes. The important role of the modest pencil is documented here (Page 53). Now I know what Einstein meant when he said his pencil is smarter than himself; now I better understand why I don't know what I think until I read what I write. The hand holding the pencil also looks different. I've taken Gregory Bateson's advice and had a good look at it. Even the self guiding the hand is a different self from the pre-book self. If I have more computing power at those fingertips than NASA needed to put a man on the moon (Page xii), then I'm much more powerful than I thought.|
What I still don't understand, however, is how all we powerful people are collectively screwing up so badly. Engelbart's answer is that we lack the tools for working together so that the power of the individuals can be synergetically combined to create powerful institutions. He offers such tools. However, neither he nor his biographer (Bardini insists this is not a biography but it is as close to a biography as we have) offer clear descriptions of those tools and concrete examples of those tools in action. Bootstrapping (which may be an unfortunate term, since it suggests the impossible task of raising oneself by one's own bootstraps) is defined vaguely as "an iterative and coadaptive learning experience" (Page 24).
Henry van Eyken, the web master for the web site - www.bootstrap.org - where Engelbart's work is described and discussed, has recently made a number of excellent suggestions for describing those tools more clearly, distributing them more widely, and demonstrating them more competently. Obvious clients for such tools are the various international organizations, which have had difficulty meeting in person since the Attack on the Acronyms starting in Seattle in November 1999 when anti-globalization protesters disrupted the meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
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