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Classics

The WorldWideWeb is a wide-area hypermedia information retrieval initiative

A proposal which changed the world forever.

“The WWW project merges the techniques of information retrieval and hypertext to make an easy but powerful global information system. The project is based on the philosophy that much academic information should be freely available to anyone. It aims to allow information sharing within internationally dispersed teams, and the dissemination of information by support groups. Originally aimed at the High Energy Physics community, it has spread to other areas and attracted much interest in user support, resource discovery and collaborative work areas.”

(CERN)

A talk with computer graphics pioneer Ivan Sutherland

Another giant with strong shoulders.

“I couldn’t end a conversation with one of the fathers of computer graphics without asking him where he thought the field might go in the next fifty years. I should have remembered, though: Sutherland had already explained to me that he’s not into the prediction game.”

(Harry McCracken a.k.a. @harrymccracken ~ TIME.com)

40 years of icons: The evolution of the modern computer interface

Knowing where you come from is a great foundation.

“The greatest thing is that this has sort of become a sandbox for the mind. It’s a medium, not just a calculating machine. We now have this thing in front of us, it allows us to paint, to write, to listen to music. It mesmerizes us and steals our lives. I think it is the invention of the last 500 years. And we’re waiting to see what it does next.”

(Jesse Hicks a.k.a. @jessehixxx ~ The Verge)

“The music is not in the piano”

One of the giants on whom’s shoulders we stand.

Interview with computing pioneer Alan Kay ~ “One way to think of all of these organizations is to realize that if they require a charismatic leader who will shoot people in the knees when needed, then the corporate organization and process is a failure. It means no group can come up with a good decision and make it stick just because it is a good idea. All the companies I’ve worked for have this deep problem of devolving to something like the hunting and gathering cultures of 100,000 years ago. If businesses could find a way to invent “agriculture” we could put the world back together and all would prosper.”

(David Greelish ~ Techland)

The lady and the antelope: Suzanne Briet’s contribution to the French Documentation Movement

Remarkable woman in the Paul Otlet trajectory.

“During her thirty years at the Bibliothèque Nationale (BN), Suzanne Briet (1894-1989) made important theoretical, organizational, and institutional contributions to the documentation movement in France. This paper attempts to place her documentation work within the context of the far-reaching reform of French libraries, with special attention to the transformation of the BN. Like her colleagues in special libraries, Briet embraced modernity and science. However, because of her strong orientation toward humanistic scholarship, she viewed documentation service and bibliographic orientation as an enhancement rather than a rejection of the scholarly traditions of the national library. This paper will focus on her efforts to integrate the innovative ideas of the documentation movement into the practice of librarianship at the Bibliothèque Nationale.”

(Mary Niles Maack)

The origins of the internet in Europe (1895-2013): Collecting, indexing & sharing knowledge

Have I been waiting for this one.

“Brussels, Belgium, Europe, 1895: two men shared a dream of ‘indexing and classifying the world’s information’. Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine’s work foreshadowed the network of knowledge that a century later became the Internet with its search engines! Otlet and La Fontaine aimed to preserve peace by assembling knowledge and making it accessible to the entire world. They built an international documentation center called Mundaneum. They invented the modern library Universal Decimal Classification system. La Fontaine won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1913. By 1935, their Mundaneum grew to a staggering 16 million cards covering subjects ranging from the history of hunting dogs to finance! World War II and the death of both founders slowed down the project. Although many Mundaneum archives were stored away, some even in the Brussels subway, volunteers kept the dream alive. The French community government of Belgium brought most of the archives to a beautiful Art Deco building in the heart of Mons near Brussels.”

(Google Cultural Institute)

Man-Computer Symbiosis

One of the giants on whose shoulders we (HCI) stand.

“Man-computer symbiosis is an expected development in cooperative interaction between men and electronic computers. It will involve very close coupling between the human and the electronic members of the partnership. The main aims are (1) to let computers facilitate formulative thinking as they now facilitate the solution of formulated problems, and (2) to enable men and computers to cooperate in making decisions and controlling complex situations without inflexible dependence on predetermined programs. In the anticipated symbiotic partnership, men will set the goals, formulate the hypotheses, determine the criteria, and perform the evaluations. Computing machines will do the routinizable work that must be done to prepare the way for insights and decisions in technical and scientific thinking. Preliminary analyses indicate that the symbiotic partnership will perform intellectual operations much more effectively than man alone can perform them. Prerequisites for the achievement of the effective, cooperative association include developments in computer time sharing, in memory components, in memory organization, in programming languages, and in input and output equipment.”

(J.C.R. Licklider a.k.a. Lick, 1960)

Bill Moggridge 1943-2012

Paying tribute to one of our founding fathers.

“A tribute to esteemed museum director Bill Moggridge, who passed away on September 8, 2012 following a battle with cancer. Hear about his pioneering work and influence in the field of design from Tim Brown and David Kelley of IDEO, Bernie Roth of Stanford University and Caroline Baumann and Cara McCarty of Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.”

(Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum)

Designing Services That Deliver

The founding article (1984) of Service Design and service blueprints.

“Faced with service problems, we tend to become somewhat paranoid. Customers are convinced that someone is treating them badly; managers think that recalcitrant individual employees are the source of the malfunction. Thinly veiled threats by customers and managers are often first attempts to remedy the problem; if they fail, confrontation may result.”

(G. Lynn Shostack)

Engelbart’s Violin

And boy, what a symphonies did it bring us.

“In the mind of today’s technological entrepreneur, the ideal user (and employee) is semi-skilled – or unskilled entirely. The ideal user interface for such a person never rewards learning or experience when doing so would come at the cost of immediate accessibility to the neophyte. This design philosophy is a mistake – a catastrophic, civilization-level mistake. There is a place in the world for the violin as well as the kazoo. Modern computer engineering is kazoo-only, and keyboards are only the most banal example of this fact. Far more serious – though less obvious – problems of this kind tie our hands and wastefully burn our ‘brain cycles’. Professional equipment, whose mastery requires dedication and mental flexibility, may not be appropriate for casual users. But surely it is appropriate – in fact, necessary – for professionals? Just why is this idea confined to crackpots shouting in the wilderness? I hope to learn a definitive answer to this conundrum some day.”

(Stanislav Datskovskiy ~ Loper OS)

Shift Happens

Always been a great admirer of Thomas Kuhn.

“The problems that dominated Kuhn’s life after his great moment of insight arose not because Kuhn wasn’t brilliant enough. Rather, they arose and persist because while we increasingly understand that the old metaphysical paradigm has failed, for several generations now we have not found our new paradigm. Our culture has inappropriately latched on to Kuhn’s message as an exaltation of the rootless disconnection of our ideas from the world because we were ready to hear that knowledge is not apart from our knowing of it. But he and we have not yet come to a new shared understanding about what it means to live truthfully as humans.”

(David Weinberger a.k.a. @dweinberger)

Honoring and supporting Belgian Internet pioneers

Justice will be done to those with universal ideas and visions.

“Decades before the creation of the World Wide Web, Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine envisaged a paper archival system of the world’s information. They built a giant international documentation centre called Mundaneum, with the goal of preserving peace by assembling knowledge and making it accessible to the entire world. For us at Google, this mission sounds familiar.”

(Google | Official blog)

Information Overload Is Not Unique To Digital Age

I’m always thrilled when new historical connections are found.

“It is a constant complaint: We’re choking on information. The flood of data on the Web has reached mind boggling proportions, and it shows no signs of stopping. But wait, says Harvard professor Ann Blair – this is not a new condition. It’s been part of the human experience for centuries.”

(Ann Blair ~ NPR)

Lost Stories Information Design History

Information design, one of the many giant fields on which shoulders we stand.

“In a competitive business marketplace, not everyone wants to acknowledge that each generation tends to learn from, build on or divert from the previous generations ideas and output. We see this phenomenon clearly evident in the various streams of Information Design history.”

(GK VanPatter ~ Humantific)

How the Knowledge Navigator video came about

Great read about the making of the iconic vision video by AAPL.

“Sparked by the introduction of Siri, as well as products such as iPad and Skype, there have been many recent posts and articles tracing the technologies back to a 1987 Apple video called Knowledge Navigator. The video simulated an intelligent personal agent, video chat, linked databases and shared simulations, a digital network of university libraries, networked collaboration, and integrated multimedia and hypertext, in most case decades before they were commercially available. Having been involved in making Knowledge Navigator with some enormously talented Apple colleagues, I thought I would correct the record once and for all about what really happened.”

(Bud Colligan a.k.a. @collbud ~ Dubberly Design Office)

Why Hypercard Had to Die

Should be part of “The Web That Wasn’t”.

“I was a Hypercard child – though our friendship was brief.”

(Loper OS)
courtey of markbernstein

Networked Knowledge, Decades Before Google

Great reference article to pass around. The more Otlet, the better.

“He dreamed of a ‘mechanical, collective brain’ and his complex system for indexing information could be considered an analog version of Google. Belgian lawyer and librarian Paul Otlet died in 1944, poor and disillusioned. But his work is now being looked at in a whole new light.”

(Meike Laaff ~ Der Spiegel)

Origins of the Apple Human Interface

A first hand recollection of ideas, concepts, and prototypes.

This is a verbatim transcript of a public lecture given on October 28, 1997. ~ “We got clearance, thankfully, from the Apple lawyers, which came about two – three weeks ago, so we could give it here, just in time to announce it. We’re grateful to Apple to release this for public disclosure, because we think it’s of general interest.”

(Larry Tesler a.k.a. @nomodes and Chris Espinosa a.k.a. @cdespinosa)

Classic: Electric Word, July 1990 (.pdf)

The Least Boring Computer Magazine In The World ~ “It’s always a crap shoot, you never know how an issue is going to turn out.Just coordinating all the elements is a task only slightly less humbling than trying to align all the planets. No wonder it’s become a standing joke around the EW office: that moment each issue when we start laying out pages and I get to see the magazine in its final form for the first time, when I proclaim in genuine surprise, hey, this issue isn’t so bad – in fact, it’s even better than the last. What makes it doubly gratifying this time is that this is the first issue of the rest of our lives. Thirty six months and two publishers later, ElectricWord is independent.”

(Louis Rosetto) ~ courtesy of johnrynne