As much as I hate to say this, after struggling through Engelbart’s report, I experienced recursion: while I was trying to understand how computers could “augment human intellect” I was using the computer to “augment” my own “intellect.” The reading was lengthy and on the complex-side so I was utilizing the Internet to help me understand what exactly was being discussed. I was able to find a small description on wikipedia, in addition to an array of blog responses. These sources, along with the interview posted by Dr. C, enabled me to better grasp and understand the report.
Something I honed in on while I was reading the interview was the idea of a paradigm holding us back because it is a widely accepted and assumed idea, value, object, action, etc; a social “norm” if you will. Prior to what the interview calls Engelbart’s “epiphany,” there were three computers in the country. We can see how things have changed as I am currently sitting in the math empo surrounded by an overwhelming amount of these machines. Since then, I believe we have surpassed one paradigm in respect to computer technology; it was once considered a pretty basic device that could only be used to assist in computations. Today, we use it as a means of “augmentation” to an extent but I do not think we have reached what Engelbart had in mind…not yet at least. We use computers and the Internet as an accessory. It is something we find extremely convenient and useful. However, I think most people would agree they could survive without this convenience. If we can better utilize this technology to enable us to more accurately address “complex problems” then I think we will have fulfilled Engelbart’s vision. This class is a prime example of how his vision can be carried out as we focus on using the Web to gain a more comprehensive view of the world and its challenges. If we can learn to enhance our current capabilities to create a more useful learning environment, to educate students in a way that promotes a focus on the process and question aspect instead of the mere answer aspect, then we will have successfully and sufficiently “augmented the human intellect” using the computer; we will have established a new paradigm. However, once established, keep in mind the dangers of getting comfortable, of maintaining “status quo” and remember the radical idea Engelbart had over half a century ago.