Reflections on our future


  • Douglas C. Engelbart


Editor's Summary

In an article first published in the Bulletin in 1996, Douglas Engelbart looks back to the late 1950s and recalls the seeds of the future information age, its digital context and computer-mediated collaboration. He realized early work on hypermedia interactions threatened the paradigm; people were unable to expand their vision beyond the present. Yet traditional methods were insufficient to deal with complex and urgent problems, and the massively growing scale of information challenges would necessitate human adaptation. Though developments in digital information were promising, progress in the commercial sector was necessary for broad acceptance. Engelbart applied the concept of bootstrapping, with teams collaborating to carry out a process and to simultaneously improve capability. The Association for Information Science and Technology (nee American Society for Information Science) can serve as a bootstrapping facilitator in a network of associations to apply and augment information management advances to make its own and its collective work more effective.