14 NMS_04 Search and Structure

14 NMS_04 Search and Structure

14 NMS_04 Search and Structure

ref:  Doug Engelbart, “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework”

A question arises early in this work; what is the relationship of search and research? Engelbartsuggests that the contemporary “complex situation” requires the formation of new conceptual frameworks as nimble as the situation is complex. Importantly, the search and the formation of a robust conceptual framework go together, perhaps are even conflated, and are foundational in an augmented intellect. For Engelbart, throughout the search phase the conceptual framework is developed enabling the “designing of the research phase.”

Is the process of reading and contemplating this paper, first written in 1962, during the fall of 2014 the extension of the search or the research?

(second pass, utilize cut-and-paste, reconfigure post after realizing that the paper provoked more questions than answers; more contemplation than application; more search than research…)

 Have the conceptual frameworks kept pace with emerging complexity? Have the conceptual frameworks created their own cacophony? John Cage wrote, ““Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise. When we ignore it, it disturbs us. When we listen to it, we find it fascinating.”

Regarding the example of the architect: for the most part, Engelbart is describing the complex spatial relationships in buildings as they could be described through some form of 3 dimensional representation and record, and that this meticulous form of drawing may be capable of marshaling a wide range of variables, all adjustable and potentially linked toward a built actuality. This is the basic and dynamic scaffolding of parametric design, manifest today in new media, but the trace of a much older idea of coherence, of the interrelationship of processes, materials, and things made.

How might these observations relate to the question of search and the development of conceptual frameworks? We understand a design as a pattern of relationships, and a material manifestation, but that offers only an ever incomplete explanation for the whole situation affected by, and affecting the design.

What aspects of the intellect can indeed be augmented through this complex association and interrelation of quantifiable data, and what sensibilities remain to be discovered in the search, and realized through the direct interaction with people, places, and things?


Is there a conceptual framework pliable enough to incorporate the indeterminate search as a variable too (you don’t know what you’ll find in the beginning)? Rather than moving sequentially from search to framework to research and application, could emphasis on the search remaining active in the developing of a conceptual framework be the most erudite augmentation of the intellect?

Is the search a form of the intellect?

…question followed by string of “associative trails” and “appended substructures.”

points of departure:

the I Ching

history of philosophy

poetic searches

preponderance of application