TITLE: Another Take on "Know the Past" AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: January 16, 2014 4:22 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Ted Nelson offers a particularly stark assessment of how well we fulfill our obligation to know the past in his eulogy for Douglas Engelbart:
To quote Joan of Arc, from Shaw's play about her: "When will the world be ready to receive its saints?" I think we know the answer -- when they are dead, pasteurized and homogenized and simplified into stereotypes, and the true depth and integrity of their ideas and initiatives are forgotten.
Nelson's position is stronger yet, because he laments the way in which Engelbart and his visions of the power of computing were treated throughout his career. How, he wails, could we have let this vision slip through our hands while Engelbart lived among us? Instead, we worked on another Java IDE or a glue language for object-relational mapping. All the while, as Nelson says, "the urgent and complex problems of mankind have only grown more urgent and more complex." This teaching is difficult; who can accept it? -----