HyperScope Talk at Planetwork

I’ll be giving a brief presentation on HyperScope this Thursday at the Planetwork Forum, 6-9pm at Stanford University (450 Serra Mall, Building 460, Room 126). The event is free, and the other talks look great as well:    (L6D)

Please stop by if you’re nearby!    (L6H)

Also, for those of you attending EuroOSCON, Brad Neuberg will also be presenting this Thursday. His talk is entitled, “Douglas Engelbart’s HyperScope: Taking Web Collaboration to the Next Level Using Ajax and Dojo.”    (L6I)

Announcing HyperScope v1.0!

Last March, I announced the HyperScope project. Six months later, I’m proud to announce the release of HyperScope v1.0. More information is available from the HyperScope web site.    (L5E)

We’re throwing a little release party at SRI in Menlo Park tomorrow night to celebrate, and it looks like we’re going to have a great crowd. We’re also announcing a contest to write HyperScope file transformers. The prize? No less than lunch with the man himself, Doug Engelbart. (Or, if you’re not in the Bay Area, then you’ll win an autographed poster.)    (L5F)

It has been an intense and gratifying experience. I’ve known Doug for almost seven years now, and I’ve studied his work intensely for longer, and I still learned a tremendous amount. Much of that learning was the result of collaborating with an unbelievable team, including Doug, his daughter Christina Engelbart, Jonathan Cheyer, and the man who wrote the HyperScope code, Brad Neuberg.    (L5G)

I’m looking forward to sharing much of that knowledge over the next few months. For now, play with the software and participate in our community. The best document (for now) to play with is Doug’s classic 1962 paper, “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework.”    (L5H)

Killer Programmers

When I worked at Dr. Dobb’s Journal, I half-jokingly proposed creating baseball cards for programmers. Why should kids be limited to trading Albert Pujols and Eric Gagne cards, when they could trade a 1998 Larry Wall for a 2000 Guido van Rossum?    (KF7)

I still think it’s a good idea in theory, but in the meantime, check out this killer quiz. I scored an 8 out of 10. Thanks to Brad Neuberg for spotting this.    (KF8)

Announcing the Hyperscope Project

One of the new projects I have the joy of being involved with this year is Doug Engelbart‘s Hyperscope. Doug recently got a bit of NSF funding to build an Open Source prototype of his vision for a Hyperscope, and Doug asked me to lead the project.    (KAT)

You can read more about the project on the project blog. In short, we’re replicating the original hypertext system’s (Augment) browsing (jumping) and viewing capabilities in Firefox.    (KAU)

Why is this significant? Because even though most of the world knows that Doug Engelbart built the first hypertext system in the 1960s, very few people have ever seen and experienced the system first-hand. And boy, is it a doozy. Doug continues to use the system every day, and it has capabilities that no other system has today.    (KAV)

We want the world to see these features, and we want the world to have the opportunity to learn from them and to integrate them into their own systems. We also want the world to realize that these are not features for features’ sake, but are part of a much larger vision of how society can (and must) get collectively smarter.    (KAW)

This project — and Doug’s larger vision — is about improving society’s ability to collaborate. And that’s why I’m involved. We’re not building code for code’s sake (although the code will kick ass). We are kicking off a larger community conversation about how we can improve collaboration, and how we can and should improve our tools to augment our capabilities.    (KAX)

Join The Community    (KAY)

We’ve got a fantastic core team in place. Brad Neuberg is our lead developer. I’ve written about Brad’s coworking efforts, but I haven’t written about how he’s a kick-butt developer who’s doing wild things with AJAX. More importantly, he’s also a deep thinker, which is an absolute requirement to be successful in this position, a leader in the Open Source community, and a lifetime Engelbart fan (not a requirement, but it didn’t hurt).    (KAZ)

Also joining us is Jonathan Cheyer. Jon’s a long-time member of the Collaboration Collaboratory, and he’s also the tech lead for the Computer History Museum‘s NLS/Augment Restoration Project. I’m pretty sure he’s the most proficient Augment user under 40, and I’m quite certain he knows more about Augment’s internals than anyone else under 40.    (KB0)

What makes the project even more fun is that we’ve been working with folks from Doug’s original lab. His daughter, Christina Engelbart, is program manager and is also sharing her insights into how the system was used as well as her knowledge of Doug’s larger vision. Jeff Rulifson and Charles Irby, the first software leads in Doug’s lab, have shared a lot of their knowledge with us, as have Harvey Lehtman and Raylene Pak. These gatherings have not only been extremely educational — stories galore — they have been tons of fun, and we want to encourage other ex-ARC folks to touch base with us and be part of this new community.    (KB1)

Some additional acknowledgements: Mark Finnern is one of Doug’s biggest supporters, and he has given Doug a valuable forum at Future Salon. He also hooked us up with Blake Ross and Joe Hewitt of Firefox fame, two very cool guys who spent some time with Doug and whom we hope will continually engage with this community. A big shout out also to Philip Gust, also of the NLS/Augment Restoration Project, Dorai Thodla, who experimented with an early prototype of the Hyperscope in Java, and Dave Thomas and his OpenAugment team.    (KB2)

Please join us! Subscribe to our mailing lists and blog (and weekly podcasts), and participate on our Wiki. I’ll mostly blog about the project on the project blog, but I’ll also occasionally discuss stuff here. Brad is also blogging about the project. We’ll also be at SuperHappyDevHouse this Saturday doing an Augment jam session.    (KB3)

Blue Oxen Associates    (KB4)

I’m involved with this project for personal and professional reasons. As I said earlier, this is not just about building a piece of code. It’s about engaging with the community at large and building a movement that falls squarely within the mission of my company. The Hyperscope project will help ground larger conversations about how we can and should improve tool interoperability and usability. More importantly, it will ground larger conversations about process and the bigger picture.    (KB5)

At a very concrete level, the Hyperscope falls well within our goal to bring these deeper ideas into existing tools. Not surprisingly, the Hyperscope should integrate very easily with PurpleWiki (as well as other Wikis), providing a new, slick and useful browsing capability. As the project progresses, I’m looking forward to evolving our tools, as well as seeing other folks evolve theirs.    (KB6)

On a personal level, Doug is why I’m in this business. I’ve never been happier with my work than I’ve been in the past three and a half years at Blue Oxen Associates. I bring people doing meaningful work together, I help them collaborate better, and I do it in an open way that hopefully has a much larger societal impact. It’s intellectually satisfying and emotionally fulfilling. And I wouldn’t be doing any of this had it not been for Doug, who’s been a mentor, a friend, and a cheerleader.    (KB7)

In a way, starting Blue Oxen Associates was my gift to him — a commitment on my part to carry out his larger vision. But working on the Hyperscope is a much more concrete way of returning the favor, and I look forward to doing this for him and for the community at large.    (KB8)

Coworking Open House, November 21

Lots of folks have envisioned a world where the future of work is like the movie industry today. People form teams to tackle a task, then break up when the task is over, only to reform in new teams later. We’re very close to this vision becoming a reality in a geographically dispersed way. In my three years at Blue Oxen Associates, I’ve worked with different folks all over the world, and I have yet to meet all of my clients face-to-face.    (K1I)

That to said, there’s something lost when you’re always working in a distributed fashion. Tools and online community prevent you from being totally isolated, but there’s a beautiful energy that usually only manifests itself in a face-to-face setting.    (K1J)

Folks generally compensate for this deficiency by creating their own local communities. Most of my work is remote, but I still manage to see lots of folks face-to-face, and the benefits are immeasurable. I’m lucky enough to be in the Bay Area where we have a disproportionate number of brilliant, passionate people doing amazing things. That said, building this local network took a lot of work and time and a bit of serendipity. I have to be proactive about maintaining face time with good folks.    (K1K)

Rather than be individually proactive about working with folks, many people have created communal spaces for the like-minded and like-spirited. This is a long-standing practice among many communities. Brad Neuberg recently started such a space in San Francisco, which he calls coworking. He’s holding a free open house next Monday, November 21, 2005. I met Brad at one of Chris Messina and Andy Smith‘s barbecues this past summer. He’s doing interesting work, and he seems to be in the center of an interesting community. If you’re a free-lancer or remote worker looking to spend some quality time with other good people, I encourage you to check it out.    (K1L)