Reading for 2/7/08

February 6th, 2008

From this writing, I can see that Engelbart and English are discussing, essentially, the basic requirements of an “augmentation system” that they hope will successfully make it possible for everyone to reach “the point where we can do all of our work on line.” (234) From there, they outline what I can more or less describe as the physical attributes of such a system, which is interesting but not overly informative to me, who is more concerned with the why. (Perhaps this partly is due to the fact that I am notoriously bad at wrapping my head around more logical/scientific/analytical cataloging. The figures on page 238 alone sent me into confusion.) When they talk about the design of such systems, and how they must essentially be a logical dialogue with the user, I become more interested in the creation of such a “language,” so to speak. How does one determine what is intuitive and logical? Does one then ever have to sacrifice sophistication for accessibility in these “augmentation systems?” (Perhaps not, if one actually subscribes to the belief that these things aren’t for “just anyone.”)

I forget for a moment that I know next to nothing about how a computer is constructed and wonder how much of this is strictly necessary. How much is superfluous? What exactly defines an “augmentation system” and how much can you remove from one before it ceases to augment?

In a more or less completely unrelated train of thought, I was thinking earlier today about the person who said they were interested in doing a project on advertising in new media, and wondered if, in much less cyberculture, much more primitively billboard-y way, Burma-Shave signs could have been a precursor. (Then again, this may be just another case of my love of Burma-Shave rhymes causing me to want to connect them to things in incredibly tenuous ways.)

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