Doug Engelbart’s vision, and my vision of Doug Engelbart, have been deeply inspiring to me over the last eighteen months as I became aware of his work and the context in which his work developed. Again and again I find his vision of augmenting human intelligence to be profoundly resonant with my sense of mission as a professor and an explorer in the uses of information technologies in teaching and learning. We are doing nothing if not building Engelbartian “capability infrastructures” in our work as educators within a community of learning.
For a variety of reasons, Doug’s been very much on my mind and on my heart lately, and this afternoon I just couldn’t stand to go another day without at least finding out how I might write him a letter to express my gratitude and to tell him how much and how deeply his vision and work matter to me. To my astonishment, in reply to a message I’d left on an office answering machine, Doug himself called me back, and I got to stammer my thanks in person. I also got to speak with Doug (he asked me to call him that, insisting he was just a northwestern farm boy) about connections I’m mulling over between his augmentation ideas and my own experience of, and work in, higher education.
More on the conversation in another post. Suffice it to say that at this moment I’m still in shock. I’m also deeply grateful to have had the chance to say “thanks,” and to tell Doug that I think folks are beginning to catch on. I believe he was pleased to hear it, and to hear how much his work means to me, though he was too modest to say much more than “that’s nice to hear, but I can’t quite grok it.”