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Launch Community | Ontology | Library | Discussion | Members

About the OHS Launch Community    (01)

We are a group of people who have been inspired by the work and mission of Doug Engelbart, and who are building collaborative knowledge management tools based on his Open Hyperdocument System requirements. Our goal is to strengthen our conceptual understanding of Engelbart's work, and to share this knowledge with others. We are as much a "learning community" as we are a "launch community."    (02)

We have two primary goals:    (03)

Writing software is not a primary goal, but an important means to an end. By experimenting with some of Engelbart's requirements in real systems, we can obtain a greater understanding of what works best and why. At the same time, we can apply the tools that we develop to our own collaborative efforts, a process known in the hacker community as "eating your own dog food" and in Engelbart's circle as "bootstrapping."    (06)

A secondary goal of our group is API discovery and organic standards development. We fully expect and encourage multiple implementations of similar ideas, and at these early stages, these implementations will not likely be compatible with each other. By building and using these tools, we hope that commonalities between different tools will become apparent, so that we can work towards standardizing these commonalities and making these different tools interoperable.    (07)

We are not building the "official" OHS. More than anything, we are trying to educate ourselves on what the OHS actually is. At minimum, we hope to gather and share valuable experience that we can apply to our own tools. At maximum, we hope that our collective understanding can be applied to the official OHS development.    (08)

The OHS Launch Community was founded on June 15, 2001, and will expire on or before December 15, 2001.    (09)

Members    (010)

We seek the following qualities in our participants:    (011)

Participation in our community will be closed until August 13, 2001. However, the products of our collaboration -- the DKR and the software -- are open and accessible to everyone.    (015)

Logo    (022)

Our logo was designed by Josh Brahms:    (023)


We encourage our members to include this logo on their projects' web pages. To do this, cut and paste the following HTML:    (025)

<a href="">
<img src="" border="0" />
</a>    (026)

Backround    (016)

On March 24, 2000, Doug Engelbart asked a small group of people to meet with him in Menlo Park, CA, to discuss the development of his Open Hyperdocument System. Some of us had just completed a 30-hour colloquium at Stanford University on Engelbart's work; others were long-time friends and supporters.    (017)

Over the next year, a group met regularly and informally to discuss the OHS. While we made much progress, several things became apparent. We were a knowledgable, but eclectic group, and reconciling our different backgrounds proved challenging. We all had different pictures of the system in our mind, and different understandings of various terminology. We could not work towards building the OHS before we came to a common conceptual understanding of the OHS.    (018)

Complicating matters further, several other highly-qualified people began hearing of our work, and wanted to contribute. However, we had not done a good job of distilling our evolving knowledge into digestible form, and thus, the learning curve for new contributors was unnecessarily high.    (019)

In these early discussions, Jack Park and Howard Liu introduced us to the notions of "ontology" and "onto-centric engineering." The principles of the latter is that collaborative software engineering is impossible without first coming to a common conceptual understanding of the project, an ontology. Park and Liu have additionally posited that the software design will fall naturally out of the ontology. Over time, I found their ideas increasingly compelling and especially applicable to our own efforts.    (020)

I first began discussing the idea of establishing this Launch Community with Engelbart on May 8, 2001. My motivation, as summarized by Engelbart, was "to get others up to speed, and to get our own speed up." The goals and structure of this group were largely inspired by Engelbart's bootstrapping strategy, and by Park and Liu's thoughts on onto-centric engineering. With Engelbart's feedback and endorsement, and with the support of an outstanding group of founding members, I established this community on June 15, 2001.    (021)

Launch Community | Ontology | Library | Discussion | Members