catacomber (catacomber) wrote,

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Ceruzzi and Englebart

Slight correction from previous entry: Augmenting Human Intellect was actually written in 1962, not 1968, as was claimed before. I got that from another paper I was looking at by Englebart that concerned later developments for projects that would lead to the mouse. But-- 1968 is still an amazing year. In '68 Englebart also staged his "Augmenting Knowledge Workshop", which Ceruzzi gets into. See above (or below, or whatever is previous material on this blog) for more wierdness about 1968.

This reading section has addressed the relationship between systems theory and examinations of the self, particularly with a historical look at how certain people have taken notions of intelligence (actually, Douglas Englebart uses the term "intellect", but I interpret that as a more functional sounding word than intelligence; the former implies an ideal, the latter implies a process) a look at how certain people have taken notions of intelligence or intellect and attempted not only to describe it as a system, but to develop accompanying systems that would enable intellectual "augmentation".

The advances Englebart proposed relied on the accuracy of his description of intellect. For him, the human intellect is a process which operates through organizational synergy. In fact, organization itself IS intelligence, and the "synergistic structuring" (his words) would be amplified by contributing to people's organizational facilities by ergonomically extending them. The way to do this was through his H-LAM/T "(Human using Language, Artifacts, Methodology, in which he is Trained)." (Note the "he".) The H-LAM/T used symbology as its interface. In other words, and this might sound kooky but it's really worth dwelling on, he was proposing the mechanization (robot-ization) of semiotic functioning.

To me, the implications of this are mind-blowing. Never mind the part of this that strikes me as so audacious. How did this slip past us, but not stem-cell research and cloning and bioethics? Never mind all that...

To me, the implications of this are mind-blowing.

This may sound rather random, but consider the following notion. "Genius is the secular ghost." In a sense, the individual is kind of the last call before total human obliteration. Bring in Englebart, and that obliteration is set in motion because his proposition means to publicize, to project outward and make available to all that which once was in us as our most prized possession. I will leave on this thought because I think it goes well with what's coming in our next reading. It will be nice to compare Hayles' idea that Cybernetics is scary because it threatens Liberal Humanism and my own fleeting thoughts that our fear of Cybernetics (and other related technophobias) is actual a control/possession issue. I think Hayles is giving her subjects too much positive credit... More next.
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