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Ted Nelson's Passionate Eulogy for Douglas Engelbart

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the only-good-ideas-die-young dept.

The Almighty Buck 110

theodp writes "Speaking at a memorial event for the legendary Douglas Engelbart at the Computer History Museum, Ted Nelson was pissed-with-a-capital-P. Nelson in effect gave two powerful eulogies — one for his friend Dr. Engelbart, who left this Earth in July, and a second for Engelbart's career, which essentially began 'dying' four decades earlier due to short-sighted organizations' failure to fund the brilliant guy who gave the world The Mother of All Demos in 1968. 'Let us never forget that Doug Engelbart was dumped by ARPA,' Nelson laments. 'Doug Engelbart was dumped by SRI, Doug Engelbart was snubbed by Xerox PARC, and for the rest of his working life he had no chance to take us further...Just as we can only guess what John Kennedy might have done, we can only guess what Doug Engelbart might have done had he not been cut down in his prime.' It's a very moving and passionate speech (despite some oddly inappropriate audience laughter). And, alas, a very sad one in a world that throws $4 billion at the likes of Snapchat and Pinterest."

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110 comments

read the teepeeleaks etchings (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725275)

or watch the movie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqUvhDG7x2E

eulogy for our fake heritage

Re:read the teepeeleaks etchings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45732749)

Welcome to reality. "Western Civilization" is an enormous shitpile of lies. In fact Germans, British, French, Spanish colonizers were destroying lots of other civilizations around the globe. We still do. Just look at how Britain destroyed Iranian democracy and replace it by the tyrant Shah.
But be careful to keep this to yourself or they will nail you to a cross, like they did with Jesus or Bradley Manning. And sure as hell they have a cross prepared for Ed Snowden.
I know, because they tried to pull this shit on me too and they almost succeeded.

Johnathan Feruken Conspiracy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725279)

To Whom It May Concern (other than myself):

Hi. I have been a huge fan of cereals of all kinds for my whole life. Sometimes I eat it for all three meals of the day, or live on it exclusively for weeks, or put it in my underpants to keep me feeling fresh (and also as an emergency back-up snack). I cereasly love it.

I am especially fond of a lot of your cereals like Boo Berry and Trix and Chex and Lucky Charms and Cookie Crisp. My absolute favorite is Fruity Pebbles though, which I believe is a Post cereal. Maybe you guys should make something that tastes like Fruity Pebbles except manages not to have Fred Flintstone's ugly mug all over the box. Yabba Dabba Eww. Anyway, my point is that I like a lot of your cereals and so I am personally concerned with their condition. And, quite frankly, lately I've been a bit worried.

Let's start with my favorite cereal of yours - Boo Berry. I love Boo Berry... at least I think I do... actually, I know it used to be my favorite cereal but I haven't had any in years so I've kind of forgotten what it tastes like - because it's not in any stores! No stores in my area carry it. I checked on your website and apparently you still make it; you even offer it for sale. Unfortunately I can't justify buying it for the $6.74 for a twelve ounce box price. You do offer buying it in a case instead of a four pack, which would drop the price to $4.71 a box, but that is still unreasonable and would also require me to spend an entire week's pay on a large shipment of haunted cereal. My girlfriend would kill me (if I didn't overdose on blue food coloring first).

I think I have a solution to this dilemma. I know you can't force any businesses to carry your cereals and I know that you can't afford to sell them direct for less than $4.71 and still have money left over to pay for upkeep on Count Chocula's castle, hiring someone to build 400 mind-numbing advertisements disguised as crappy kids games for youruleschool.com, and keep your CEOs rolling in golden Kix. So here's what you should do - open up your own stores all across the country. You've already got one in Mall-of-America, now put one in every mall in America. Even if you don't sell much cereal (and you'd sell a lot, trust me) it would be great advertising. You can sell t-shirts with nifty slogans like "Frosted Wheaties: When You're Too Damn Lazy To Put Sugar On Your Own Wheaties!" or "Honey Nut Chex: It Rhymes With 'Funny Butt Sex' For A Reason!" and other stuff which is even more great advertising plus it makes money up front. I can see it now, picture a young child in the mall with its mother...

YOUNG CHILD: Mommy! Mommy! Look at all the pretty colored cereal!

MOTHER: Oh Honey, you know cereals like that are just a result of the global dentist/cereal/porn conspiracy, we've been through this a million times...

YOUNG CHILD: Awww...

MAN IN TRIX RABBIT SUIT comes out of the store.

MAN IN TRIX RABBIT SUIT: You know Ms. Averagemother, all of our cereals are fortified with titanium plating and deflector shi... er, essential vitamins and minerals; and they are a part of this complete breakfast.

MAN IN TRIX RABBIT SUIT whips out a complete breakfast on a tray.

MOTHER: Well... I guess a few minutes couldn't hurt...

YOUNG CHILD: Gee, thanks mom!

YOUNG CHILD runs in followed slowly by MOTHER. Group of scantily clad dentists appears and drags MOTHER into back room. YOUNG CHILD transforms into a cartoon and spends eternity trying to steal Lucky's Charms and torturing the Trix Rabbit by hogging the cereal.

Now, on to my next suggestion. You need to do something about Cheerios. Really, they're awful. Yes they are good for my heart, but this is overshadowed by the fact that they taste like my butt.

On the other hand, a cereal that already tastes great is Lucky Charms. I would like you to address some concerns I have about the marshmallows, though. I remember that when I was a lad, there were only five different marshmallows in Lucky Charms: pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers, and blue diamonds. I could find at least a tenuous reason for all those symbols to be 'lucky charms' other than the pink hearts. What is so lucky about a pink heart? And by messing with the marshmallows you've only made the cereal even more unlucky overall. Purple horseshoes were a really great addition, good color choice and they are lucky, but red balloons? Anyway, rather than discuss each marshmallow change in the cereal's history individually, let's look at the marshmallow situation currently:

1. Shooting star. You've modified the orange stars and changed them into shooting stars. I can get into this. Shooting stars are way lucky. Good move.

2 and 3. Pot o' gold and rainbow. It seems redundant to me to have a raindow and the pot o' gold which one finds at the end of it. One of these should be dismissed with prejudice.

4. Red balloon. Ugh. Sad movie, sadder marshmallow. Please explain to me why a red balloon is lucky. You can't - because they aren't. Remove this shit from my cereal and fire the jackass who thought it was a good idea.

5. Lucky's hat. You changed the four-leaf clover into some midget's out of fashion hat. I realize how cool it is that you guys have the technology now to make two-tone marshmallows, but just because you can doesn't mean you should. Change this back to the clover.

6. Pink heart. This one is hard to call. I guess it should stay given that it's the only one of the original four marshmallows left, and I guess it's lucky to have a heart because otherwise you'd need to pump your blood manually which would be awfully dull and very time consuming.

7. Purple horseshoe. The best one in the box.

8. Blue moon. Not bad in and of itself, but there was no need to combine the blue diamond and yellow moon into this single marshmallow. Why did you bother? To make room in the marshmallow factory for the 'red balloon' machine? Come on.

So, for maximum luckiness, this is how Lucky Charms should be. Shooting stars, rainbows (or pots o' gold, but I like rainbows better because they remind me of homos), green clovers, pink hearts, purple horseshoes, yellow moons, and blue diamonds. This would also reduce the total number of different marshmallow types from eight to seven - which is a far luckier number.

Hey, Trix is too sweet and pointy now. I remember it being tasty and pleasantly round at one point. Fix my Trix you dix.

And lastly, I feel I have to bring up a subject that may be hard for you to discuss. We need to talk about what happened to some of your spokespeople.

For instance, the current spokesman for Cinnamon Toast Crunch is Wendell the baker (why making cinnamon toast requires a baker is a question I won't even bring up right now). I clearly remember two other bakers, Bob and a chap with the unfortunate name of Quello, helping Wendell out (why making cinnamon toast required three bakers is another question I won't even bring up right now). Now they are gone. What happened to them? My theory is that Wendell collaborated with someone in your company to have them rubbed out so he could get a large raise and be given the chance to market his inferior French Toast Crunch. But maybe it's something more innocent than that, like they were run over by an out of control cookie cop truck, ground up, and made into delicious cinnamon-sugary sprinkles.

Speaking of cookie cop trucks, Cookie Crisp was once sold by a crafty crook, his canine companion, and a cookie cop who never failed to capture the chocolate chip crazed criminals. Now only Chip the cookie dog remains, and he has apparently given up his life of crime and become a big silly wussbag. I am disturbed by the lack of information about what happened to the other two. Was the crook arrested? If so, why is the dog still free? If he was let off on the basis of being a dog, why did the cop throw him in jail with his master in the commercials? What happened to the cop? Is he still on the force? Why isn't he after snickerdoodle thieves or something?

Those are the ones I've personally noticed go missing, but I've talked to some people inside your organization and they had disturbing news. A lot of names were mentioned: Cheeri O'Leary, Ice Cream Jones, Mr. Wonderfull, Waldo the wizard, Major Jet... the list goes on and on.

Please explain these disappearances or I may be forced to contact the authorities.

Your biggest fan,

Johnathan Feruken

P.S. Hey, whatthefuck is up with Kaboom, anyway? That's some scary crap!

Re:Johnathan Feruken Conspiracy (0, Offtopic)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 4 months ago | (#45725307)

*they're

Re:Johnathan Feruken Conspiracy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45726155)

Where are the moderators, damn it? All these offtopic comments should NOT be visible, folks. And YOU, Thanshin, should be modded down to -1 just for feeding that god damned troll. WTF is wrong with you actually READING that drivel, let alone correcting a stupid mistake in it?

Moderstors, you were given those points for a reason. Remember that reason and mod these offtopic comments to oblivion wher ethey belong.

Posting AC so this comment won't be at 1 (mods, this comment needs to be downmodded as well)

Re:Johnathan Feruken Conspiracy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725529)

**they're

"can only guess what John Kennedy might have done" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725289)

Is that where the laughter was? I would have laughed there.

no need to guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725505)

jfk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSEeO4zg1w0 mlk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aL4FOvIf7G8

Re:"can only guess what John Kennedy might have do (1)

ScottCooperDotNet (929575) | about 4 months ago | (#45726267)

At least then we wouldn't have both political parties trying to claim him for contemporary purposes.

In the minds of the curren tech industry (2)

Desler (1608317) | about 4 months ago | (#45725315)

Yeah but Snapchat and Pinterest are hip, young and agile. Doug old and stuff.

At least that's what goes through the mind of the current tech industry.

Re:In the minds of the curren tech industry (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725337)

What a nice pussyhole you have there! I'm going to fill it with cum any millisecond now! Ahhhh... too good!

Wait... I didn't know this was a feces fiesta!

Re:In the minds of the curren tech industry (5, Funny)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 4 months ago | (#45725363)

Yeah but Snapchat and Pinterest are hip, young and agile,

Don't forget they're social and cloud, with lashings of NOSQL. And at least web 3.0. Or are we up to 4.0? yet. I'm still stuck on web 2.1.6-RC4.

At least that's what goes through the mind of the current tech industry.

They probably use all the latest fads [coboloncogs.org] as well, too.

Re:In the minds of the curren tech industry (3, Funny)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 4 months ago | (#45725425)

When I discovered the World Wide Web c. 1994, I said "Wow, this is awesome! But it's going to suck once everyone knows about it." I wish I had been wrong.

Re:In the minds of the curren tech industry (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#45726193)

That's what I said over a decade before 1994.

N00b :)

Re:In the minds of the curren tech industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45726279)

Except the WWW didn't exist a decade before 1994.

Re:In the minds of the curren tech industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45726555)

It sure did for Douglas Engelbart.

Re:In the minds of the curren tech industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45728401)

No, the world wide web didn't. Hyperlinks did, not the web.

Re:In the minds of the curren tech industry (1)

brianwski (2401184) | about 4 months ago | (#45727267)

The internet existed in 1984. Some of us old timers still remember when AOL opened a gate and let their users into the readnews internet community, everything started going downhill about then. :-)

Now you kids get off my lawn!

Re:In the minds of the curren tech industry (3, Informative)

chad_r (79875) | about 4 months ago | (#45728695)

The internet existed in 1984. Some of us old timers still remember when AOL opened a gate and let their users into the readnews internet community, everything started going downhill about then. :-)

Could you be misremembering the Eternal September [wikipedia.org] of 1993? The name AOL didn't event exist until 1989. Usenet did exist in 1984, but it was over UUCP, and there were less than 1000 hosts.

Re:In the minds of the curren tech industry (2)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about 4 months ago | (#45729513)

Except the WWW didn't exist a decade before 1994.

The Internet might have, but the World Wide Web did not. The WWW was conceived and proposed between 1989 and 1991.

Reading that eulogy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725353)

Which was hyperbolic even by the standards of such occasions (Englebart was JFK, Shakespeare, Alfred Hitchcock and Icarus rolled up into one), and the fulminations about a great talent being denied the chance to continue his life's work:

I wonder if Mr. Nelson was talking about his friend, or himself.

Happened to me (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725413)

a great talent being denied the chance to continue his life's work:

Happened to me ... i could have been such a good beer taster

Re:Reading that eulogy (5, Interesting)

doom (14564) | about 4 months ago | (#45726595)

Which was hyperbolic even by the standards of such occasions (Englebart was JFK, Shakespeare, Alfred Hitchcock and Icarus rolled up into one)

I see you're unfamiliar with Englebart. At a time when most of us were doing batch processing on punch cards, at a time when the real digital elite was obsessed with the idea of "artificial intelligence" (hoping to get the computer to do more without submitting another damn deck of punch cards), Englebart came of with a vision of computers as interactive devices, partners that would amplify intelligence, and allow remote collaborative efforts between groups of people.

In other words, the world we're living in, except for that bit about "amplified intelligence".

Re:Reading that eulogy (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#45727195)

In other words, the world we're living in, except for that bit about "amplified intelligence".

Yeah, we seem to be in an area of "amplified market idiocy" instead.

Amplified, sure enough. (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | about 4 months ago | (#45728295)

In other words, the world we're living in, except for that bit about "amplified intelligence".

No, no, things are certainly amplified, so that part is correct. It's the "intelligence" part that's a bit off the mark here. Networking can help leverage the abilities of each of the networked nodes (people, in this case). When many of those nodes excel at being dumb animals, well, you get a heavy preponderance of lolcats and porn. Many (perhaps most?) of us humans are just living day to day and trying to get by. Not a lot of room there for higher-order thinking.

Lest we lose sight of all hope, it's important to recognize that it's not all gloom and doom, though -- despite all the porn and lolcats, there's also a good bit of smart thinking that is also amplified. That's easy to miss amidst all the noise, but it's definitely there.

Cheers,

Re:Reading that eulogy (1)

Jack Griffin (3459907) | about 3 months ago | (#45730365)

Not sure what world you're living in, but I am constantly amazed about what benefits technology gives us on a daily basis. Also if you take the nostalgia goggles off, and ignore the attention seeking bombardment of hyped up controversy that passes for news these days, you'll see that by most measures the world is a better place thanks to technology. As an example my mother was diagnosed with a slightly rare condition earlier this year. The GP gave the standard diagnosis which wasn't so good, but after some self-research and collaboration with special interest groups across the world were able to locate a UK-based (opposite side of the world to us) specialist who was able to offer some alternate advice which has since remarkably improved our situation. This was only possible with the "amplified intelligence" that the Internet provides.

Re:Reading that eulogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45732771)

With all due respect I beg to differ. Ed Snowden and Bradley Manning and quite a few more "nuts" like me have been made possible exactly because of the WWW and its discussion forums.

Drunk rant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725383)

Right, this guy got drunk and started ranting at all kinds of companies.

Too bad he wasn't born later. (1)

mc6809e (214243) | about 4 months ago | (#45725399)

Engelbart lived at a time when bureaucracy and inflexible institutions ruled. To get anywhere one had to jump through hoops constantly and appeal to those few authorities that controlled the purse strings.

Today there are many points of accumulated capital that one can appeal to for assistance and funding. Forty years ago there was just the government or a few old giant corporations.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (4, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 4 months ago | (#45725449)

otoh, 40 yrs ago, ageism practically didn't exist. older meant more experienced and wiser. we used to respect it.

now, if you are over 35, its hard to get an interview, let alone get hired.

things have gotton worse, not better.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725553)

Using proper punctuation, capitalization and spelling might also be a factor.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (2)

fredrated (639554) | about 4 months ago | (#45725957)

Yeah, it is really importent to do that when posting to this web site, because all the power HR people come here.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45726521)

Yeah, it is really importent[sic] to do that when posting to this web site, because all the power HR people come here.

Dice Dice Baby. Why do you think Dice.com bought Slashdot in the first place? So they could submit your posting history along with your resume for any jobs you apply.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45729805)

Weirdly enough, a tech recruiter tracked me down once from a posting on slashdot. No, wait, it was from a posting on userfriendly.org, which is even more niche.

They were looking for somebody experienced with testing solid fuel rocket motors using centrifuges and apparently that's not easy to find. Totally not kidding.

Moral: the power HR people use search engines!

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (1)

Jack Griffin (3459907) | about 3 months ago | (#45730559)

It's important if you're trying to argue that your situation is due to outside forces rather than your own incompetence.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (3, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 4 months ago | (#45725691)

Drifting off-topic here, but getting interviews over age 35 isn't hard. Finding a hiring manager who is not a complete tool, now *that* is much harder.

Maybe Engelbart had the same problem, in his career. Compared to him, practically everyone is a tool.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 months ago | (#45725759)

No, they've gotten both better and worse, in other words, things are different.

You're right; ageism is much worse these days in computer-related professions (and others). However, OTOH, technology is cheap and easily-accessible today, unlike 40 years ago. Today, if you're brilliant, you don't need some big institution to give you access to their computers for you to do computer-related work; you can buy a laptop for $100-200 on Ebay and do all the coding you want. You can even easily start a business with it: write a brilliant app for smartphones, start your own 1-person company, and sell it on iTunes/Google Play and make millions potentially. Or you can start a highly-successful open-source project and become the next Linus Torvalds or Guido von Rossum. Unfortunately, Engelbart retired about the time microcomputers were starting to become popular, so he was well ahead of his time.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45727551)

"sell it on iTunes/Google Play and make millions potentially."

That was a wonderful soliloquey about independent competitors in a free market until you hit that note. Note that Apple or Google, will look at how many millions your invention is making, and somehow find a way to make sure they get their healthy undeserved cut, such that they maintain themselves as the establishment gatekeepers of the technological 'free' market.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 months ago | (#45729029)

Tell that to Rovio. They've made millions and haven't been bought out. Apple and Google aren't interested in entering the games business. They're already the gatekeepers and getting a cut just by having their walled-garden apps stores.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45732819)

I built something like WhatsApp in 2007 and offered it to Nokia. They declined, as "this threatens the SMS business of our customers, who are the cellphone companies".
I know it is mean, but I really feel validated by Nokia going titsup now. These suckers could have had a WhatsApp-style thing by 2007 !
And no, I am a German citizen and have never been to SV. All done in Dresden and the Stuttgart area.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 4 months ago | (#45725907)

Did you walk to school at 4 o'clock every morning with no shoes on, uphill, both ways, in 5 feet of snow and were thankful?

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45726113)

Mocking people isn't a sign of respect. You've just proved one of his points.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (2)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 4 months ago | (#45726499)

Having no sense of humor isn't a sign of maturity. (And I'm probably older than both of you combined)

Know your tropes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45727317)

Having a sense of humor can be quite useful though -

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WhenIWasYourAge

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about 4 months ago | (#45726087)

Its been said time and time again that ageism is tied to the belief that an older more experienced applicant will demand more money than a kid fresh out of grad school with a boatload of debt and no family. The younger engineer doesn't have a family and can work long hours without complaining about how he or she needs more time to spend with their family. I would also hazard a guess that there are older more experienced guys in silicon valley. But they are already in senior engineering positions, project leads or management and the younger, cheaper underlings do the brunt of the grunt work with the senior staff overseeing the development.

Its all about money.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (1)

Jack Griffin (3459907) | about 3 months ago | (#45730549)

otoh, 40 yrs ago, ageism practically didn't exist.

Crap

older meant more experienced and wiser. we used to respect it.

At least that's how it worked in the fairy tales right?

now, if you are over 35, its hard to get an interview, let alone get hired.

This is a supply/demand argument, nothing to do with age. I'm an over 40 contractor, I change jobs every 6-12 months and never had issues, maybe it's just you?

things have gotton worse, not better.

By most independent measure, things are getting better for most people. Maybe for white males things are getting relatively worse, since others are now allowed to compete on a level playing field, but overall things are getting better for most people.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45732795)

I am 39 and I just had an interview with one of the leading-edge companies here. A company which invented some highly efficient piece of hardware in the 1940s and who are still leaders in the field.
My impression was that they were highly impressed in with my software engineering skills.

I venture to say you don't become a good software engineer before age 32 or so. You get excellent at age 40 or 45.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (2)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 4 months ago | (#45725455)

10 years ago there were other ways. We're back to bureaucracy and inflexible institutions now.

I mean if he did something hip and pintristy he might get hired by some MS research like group that hires people just to keep them from innovating...

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 4 months ago | (#45725503)

If he was born later he would simply have been mostly ignored by the time he was around 30. To the current crop of hipsters running tech companies that is over the hill and then some.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (4, Informative)

jythie (914043) | about 4 months ago | (#45725587)

Eh, it is a mixed bag. Something that we have gotten worse about today is general research. After the 80s there was an increased focus on short term returns and multiple companies built business models around looking at good ideas other companies took risks on but failed then repackaging them with better marketing, which created a climate where companies became highly research adverse. Everyone hopes some other company (or university) will take those risks and the profits go to whoever does the same thing next.

During Engelbart's time, there were more companies still running research departments. Not that we do not have such places today, but they have become increasingly rare.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (2)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 4 months ago | (#45725743)

Engelbart lived at a time when bureaucracy and inflexible institutions ruled...

He was alive this year. I don't think that culture changed in the last 6 months.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45726043)

What a load of bullshit.

Forty years ago there was a government very keen to make long term investments to advance the nation's technological prowess rather than something which could be a vehicle for corporate welfare; there was an academia that was very keen to make groundbreaking explorations with no obvious short-term purpose rather rather than something which could be quickly spun off as a profit-making corporation; there were various non-charitable organisations at various lengths from government which had a specific remit to advance some aspect of society, e.g. communications companies (AT&T - remember where Unix came from?), broadcasting companies (BBC before the privatisations and spin-offs of the '90s and early '00s), &c.

Money today has never been more concentrated in the hands of the few, and these few will be highly willing to invest in fashion - something which is likely to give them a quick return. Technology design today is governed by the same factors as clothes design.

And your big corporations of 40 years ago are the very few actually making progress: IOW making ICs smaller and faster.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (1)

Warbothong (905464) | about 4 months ago | (#45726045)

Nonsense. 40 years ago, the field of computing was young, small and willing to experiment. Today, it's incredibly difficult to do anything disruptive at the architecture level, the OS level, the language level, the library level, the application level or, most importantly, at the conceptual "what are computers for?" level. Most investment goes into social media/Web crap because it's so difficult to get anything else adopted, especially in the places and at the scales that Engelbart was envisioning.

Re: Too bad he wasn't born later. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45726591)

Yeah, you couldn't do something as revolutionary as the iPhone today which requires a new architecture, OS, etc. to re-envision computing. Oh wait.

Posted from my iPhone over breakfast.

Re:Too bad he wasn't born later. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45727235)

"Nonsense. 40 years ago, the field of computing was young, small and willing to experiment. Today, it's incredibly difficult to do anything disruptive at the architecture level, the OS level, the language level, the library level, the application level or, most importantly, at the conceptual "what are computers for?" level. "

for you.

FTFY

The problem with smart people (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725443)

is that they think everyone else is smart too and have the same motivations. Meanwhile, in the real world, people laugh at eulogies, strive to throw a ball really far, screw each other over, deal with their short lifespan by burning twice as bright, etc.

Engerlbart's Greatness (3, Interesting)

N3tRunner (164483) | about 4 months ago | (#45725497)

Engelbart created a lot of the things that we associate with modern PCs, such as the mouse, graphical word processing, and hypertext links, but from what I've read it seemed like he was running out of steam and having trouble managing his projects by the time the funding dropped away from him. He had a great chance to contribute to the history of computing, and he definitely exceeded all expectations. I guess we'll never know what else he would have come up with if given another 40 years to work, or if he had already run out of ideas.

Re:Engerlbart's Greatness (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725955)

Engelbart created a lot of the things that we associate with modern PCs, such as the mouse, graphical word processing, and hypertext links, but from what I've read it seemed like he was running out of steam and having trouble managing his projects by the time the funding dropped away from him. He had a great chance to contribute to the history of computing, and he definitely exceeded all expectations. I guess we'll never know what else he would have come up with if given another 40 years to work, or if he had already run out of ideas.

Engelbart truly was a one of the titans of early computer development but he didn't really do anything with this mouse from 1963 until 1967. In the mean time a guy named Rainer Mallebrein and his team at a Telefunken lab created a ball mouse in 1965 for the German air traffic control agency. Engelbart only filed for a patent for his wheel mouse in 1967. There was also a British trackball design that dated to 1947 and a Canadian team who developed a trackball in 1952 for the Canadian navy but it used a five pin bowling ball so it was hardly very practical but they were probably the first, the Germans however, were marketing their mouse even before Engelbart made his demo in 1967. Ironically Telefunken felt the computer mouse was to trivial an invention to bother with patenting it.

Re:Engerlbart's Greatness (2)

JWW (79176) | about 4 months ago | (#45726479)

Ironically Telefunken felt the computer mouse was to trivial an invention to bother with patenting it.

It is mind boggling that the inventor of the ball mouse , a hugely successful device, would think it trivial and not patent it when nowadays someone just adds "on the internet" to common practices (not even real tangible things!!) and thinks they deserve huge patent royalties.

Its amazing how far innovation has fallen.

Re:Engerlbart's Greatness (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#45727293)

"Engelbart only filed for a patent for his wheel mouse in 1967."

But a key thing here many seem to have forgotten is funding.

Without funding, or some kind of financial backer, you're not going to have a reasonable opportunity to patent your invention in a short amount of time. While the big boys with lots of funding can. That's one of the bit problems we're currently going through in the area of patents... the huge advantage that has been given corporations, versus the little guy who, actually most of the time, actually invents something.

So it shouldn't be any great surprise that Engelbart in his little group did not patent in those years but Telefunken did.

Patents are supposed to be about invention, not about who can get to market first.

Re:Engerlbart's Greatness (1)

multimed (189254) | about 4 months ago | (#45729263)

Patents are supposed to be about invention, not about who can get to market first.

Hell, even that would be a huge improvement over what we've got. When things come to market, at least the public is getting something in exchange for the monopoly on the idea. But all too often, that's not the case. That the purpose of obtaining the patent (or copyright for that matter) isn't to put things out on the market & make profits. Instead, it's about locking up the ideas to stifle the progress of others. To eliminate competition. To build up a war chest to defend or worse, attack or steal the innovation of others who might not have as high-paid of lawyers.

Re:Engerlbart's Greatness (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#45729475)

"Hell, even that would be a huge improvement over what we've got."

No, it wouldn't, because in effect that's what we already have. I get the impression you don't like what we already have. My point was that it isn't supposed to be that way.

"... the purpose of obtaining the patent (or copyright for that matter) isn't to put things out on the market & make profits. Instead, it's about locking up the ideas to stifle the progress of others. "

I think we agree that, too, is not the way it's supposed to be. But "first to market" doesn't solve that problem, it just hides it. So... you market your idea. To two people. One buys. What does that accomplish? Granted, that's a ridiculous example but what we have now is ridiculous, so I don't think it's unrealistic.

I think the whole point here is to prevent patent trolling. TFA says universities are against this, but so what? Why should universities be granted patents in the first place? They're taxpayer-funded institutions. Their inventions should therefore not be "protected" from the public.

The law that allowed corporate-university partnerships to patent innovations was a mistake. It hasn't done the public any good, and again, I think we agree that the whole idea of the patent system is "the public good".

But on the same note: getting rid of the incentives of patents would also not be in the public good. We need to find a balance.

Seriously Awkward Laughing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725523)

I'm pretty sure it wasn't a roast but apparently some people thought it was.

Re:Seriously Awkward Laughing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45726755)

These people were the sociopaths in the room, standing out like the sore thumbs they are.

the oddly appropriate laughter. (1)

nimbius (983462) | about 4 months ago | (#45725569)

in a world that doles four billion to pinterest and snapchat, laughter at the death of an obscure genius seems like something of an expectation.

oh wait. no it doesnt.

christ god forbid you so much as crack a grin at the euology of Steve Fucking Jobs. [youtube.com] unless you're joking about the presenters elocution during the pronunciation of aluminum.

Re:the oddly appropriate laughter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725895)

I don't think people were laughing because they thought anything was funny. It was a release of tension. Laughter serves many purposes.

Re:the oddly appropriate laughter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45727259)

If you can''t control your tension and keep laughing at a god damn eulogy there's something seriously wrong with you.

Re:the oddly appropriate laughter. (2)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 4 months ago | (#45728697)

Yeah, wtf. I could understand some people not being aware of their surroundings at the start of the speech. Who knows what came before this guy took the stage. And maybe a lot of people are drinking heavily. But once you get past the point where the guy is emotionally sobbing out the lines of eulogy about his dead friend and how the horrible the world is there's just no appropriate reason to be laughing.

Ok, ok, I guess he announces that he's pulling quotes from "the great poet Walt Kelly", and people laugh in that pause. I found that really odd, but I didn't know that he's the guy who wrote a political/philosophical comic called Pogo. It's like referring to Bill Watterson as a "great poet". (Which hey, HE IS, but he wrote comics).

But all those other points? When people laugh and APPLAUSE about how "Doug was the real thing". Dude, that's just wrong. And it.... man... it makes it look like the world really IS circling the drain.

Re:the oddly appropriate laughter. (1)

multimed (189254) | about 4 months ago | (#45729479)

For the most part, I'm with you. Some of the reactions were a bit...off. I'd tend to try & give some leeway given the situation though. As you mentioned, the Walt Kelly reference - could be construed as a place where Nelson was looking for levity. Really hard to tell with his delivery as well & it's much easier to sit back after the fact & be able to discern his temperament more accurately. Live & perhaps without a great familiarity with a speaker's background, things are much tougher. I've certainly been at events where there was the sort of awkwardness of people not quite getting the true tone. And certainly as you mentioned, what came before can factor very heavily in the mindset of the audience & that absolutely colors the reception of the message.

I actually see silver lining in to the "real thing" applause portion as well. It seemed like it was more on the naivete part that brought the clapping. Certainly there's a poignant element to that given the course of Englebart's career. But by the same means, I tend to see some reason to celebrate that quality as well - the innocence of not having been corrupted by the cynicism of the world. Brilliance sometimes only comes at when there's an absence of knowing better - to be unencumbered by what everyone "knows can't be done."

Re:the oddly appropriate laughter. (1)

egranlund (1827406) | about 4 months ago | (#45731879)

Who knows what came before this guy took the stage.

I was at the event and I think the laughter was mostly caused by a dramatic change in tone compared to the previous speakers. He was a lot more intense in a way that at first came off as a joke.

Ted Nelson (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 4 months ago | (#45725647)

Not that I necessarily disagree with the guy's expressed sentiments; but the complaint "the world wouldn't give my friend a chance, but now they're throwing billions at Snapchat and Pinterest" just sounds like a typical grumpy old man complaining about the state of the world.

However the summary reads in a way that makes me wonder if that jibe was his, or if it belonged to a grumpy old Slashdot submitter.

Re:Ted Nelson (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 4 months ago | (#45725827)

It was the submitter's own commentary. Reread the submission and you will notice it came right after the end of a quote.

Re:Ted Nelson (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45726239)

You ever think old men get grumpy because they know more than you?

I'm sure he identifies a little with Doug (4, Insightful)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 4 months ago | (#45725711)

Ted's "Project Xanadu" was a very early vision of a large semantic hypertext network, very much like the modern web in some ways. But it never quite solidified into something that could take off on its own power. I'd wager that Ted sees more than a little of Doug in himself: an inventor of great things who -- in the end -- was largely ignored and forgotten.

Re:I'm sure he identifies a little with Doug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45726105)

Yes this was a eulogy for himself, another forgotten genius, bordering on mad scientist, who was way ahead of his time. His ideas were stolen or ignored.

Re:I'm sure he identifies a little with Doug (2)

doom (14564) | about 4 months ago | (#45726415)

"Yes this was a eulogy for himself"
Sure, but he showed a considerable amount of restraint in leaving this comparison implicit.

The trouble with Xanadu (2)

Animats (122034) | about 4 months ago | (#45728341)

Ted's "Project Xanadu" was a very early vision of a large semantic hypertext network, very much like the modern web in some ways. But it never quite solidified into something that could take off on its own power.

It got implemented. Autodesk funded an implementation. I knew the people who did that job. It just wasn't very useful. It was a centralized storage and revision control scheme for text only (No pictures; Nelson was very text-oriented) tied to a micropayments system. You paid to read a document, and payments were parcelled out to everybody who'd contributed to the document.

The fundamental problem was that it assumed that most text documents were worth orders of magnitude than they are now. Pricing was intended to be comparable to what overpriced academic journals charge for online access today. Another part of the problem was that Nelson had very strong ideas about how it should be implemented, but didn't know much about database technology.

Re:The trouble with Xanadu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45729101)

> Another part of the problem was that Nelson had very strong ideas about how it should be implemented, but didn't know much about database technology.

Yeah, he also had crazy ideas about giving authors full control over their work that couldn't be realized. I mean, from what I remember, he wanted to have it so that authors could update quotes of themselves after the fact and things like that. Given that this was text-based, it's hard to see how that could ever possibly work given that people could, at worst, simply retype the damned thing.

But it's an interesting lesson to see an authoritarian authorship system like that end up irrelevant and forgotten, because this is the sort of road current copyright maximalists would love to lead us down.

Re:The trouble with Xanadu (1)

Animats (122034) | about 4 months ago | (#45729301)

But it's an interesting lesson to see an authoritarian authorship system like that end up irrelevant and forgotten, because this is the sort of road current copyright maximalists would love to lead us down.

I know. Most of the Xanadu people were libertarians of the "markets are the solution to everything" persuasion. The World Wide Web might have turned out that way. There was a previous generation of paid online information businesses - Minitel, Nexis, Lexis, etc. - where you did pay for almost everything you looked at. Xanadu was supposed to be a better implementation of that model.

There's My argument ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725811)

Scale votes in proportion to I.Q.

Not just the technological elite... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45725861)

...Just as we can only guess what John Kennedy might have done, we can only guess what Doug Engelbart might have done had he not been cut down in his prime.'

And we can also only guess what almost half the world's population might do if they weren't trying to survive on less than $2.50/day.

There are all kinds of huge problems in the world that desperately need solving and there are huge numbers of people who struggle to find meaningful work. But somehow there's not much connection. In part, the people who control the world's wealth are able to isolate themselves from many of the world's most severe problems. And many people think that the purpose of life is competition rather than cooperation (i.e. taking a bigger slice of the pie for themselves rather than making more pie so everyone has enough).

But, regardless of whether you're lucky enough to count yourself among the technological elite or you're wondering whether you're going to eat today, the world is far from perfect.

Re:Not just the technological elite... (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 4 months ago | (#45726249)

Projects / charities to address that:

  - http://www.heifer.org/ [heifer.org] --- give a child powdered milk and they'll drink for a day (if they have clean water), give their parents a breeding pair of cattle and they'll have milk for forever
  - http://opensourceecology.org/ [opensourceecology.org] --- provide people with the tools necessary to make the things they need to make their lives better

Had a link for a water filtration system, but not finding it....

There Is a Reason For the Laughing (1)

segedunum (883035) | about 4 months ago | (#45726143)

For those who don't get humour, he's taking the piss in a somewhat serious way.

Audience confused by pauses, sincerity (3, Insightful)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 4 months ago | (#45726725)

If you watch the video, the audience reaction is remarkable. Basically, it appears to be composed of people who

1) cannot interpret or perceive when *real* human emotion is on display before them , or what it might mean.

2) react chiefly to the *form* of his sentences, and not the spoken content. Specifically, when Ted pauses, they interpret this as they're being given a pause by the speaker to process some joke which they were just told, and in response laugh politely.

The laughter is entirely inappropriate. Ted's pausing because he's overcome with emotion. That choking sound, that's where we get the phrase "getting choked up". That sniffling sound? That's Ted repressing tears and not a cue that you just heard a Louis CK -style joke which somehow went whizzing over your head.

Here's a guy -Ted Nelson - himself a luminary on par with Engelbart and Knuth, whose own vision for Xanadu :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Xanadu [wikipedia.org]

has largely been ignored and forgotten IMO, honoring us with his actual, uncensored thoughts about the life and passing one of his fellow greats, and people don't get it, at all. This is how the world is. The vacuous - yet ambitious ! - (lived there, know them ) residents of Mountain View and Sunnyvale and Palo Alto don't even know it's them he's ripping when he says:

"Perhaps his notion of accelerating collaboration and cooperation was a pipe dream in this dirty world of organizational politics, jockeying and backstabbing and euphemizing evil."

a quote that reminded me of a line from Bilbo Baggins' speech at his "eleventy-one" birthday party:

"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."

The fact is the gentle, humane, inclusive and egalitarian visions of saints is an quiet and unassuming brute force of nature, provably irrepressible and the thing upon which every other owes its existence; it's like water. It is continually being reborn and reintroduced into the world over and over again, indefatiqable never driven out, never depleted, never defeated or even much deflected, unstoppable unstoppable unstoppable, having its way on the field of historical time, which is its only concern.

Re:Audience confused by pauses, sincerity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45727335)

What do you expect from a room full of stunted Asperger's cases raised on entertainment and computer interaction?

Re:Audience confused by pauses, sincerity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45727857)

I don't agree. I listened to the beginning partly because of your post. It seems to me like he is being offensive to the audience, when he says things like this : we gather today in the pretense of unanimity and concord to croon over his ashes and grab for scraps of his robe...
That's insulting to the attendees, and they are right to nervously laugh. I don't think anybody should just accept somebodies derision with a solemn head shake, "yes, he's right, we are all here to grab for scraps of his robe..."

Re:Audience confused by pauses, sincerity (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 4 months ago | (#45729073)

I didn't have that in mind when I wrote it. If you listen to the whole thing- it's three minutes long or so, perhaps you'll see what I thought I saw. Every time he stops, obviously because he can't go on, they giggle, apropo of nothing semantic. They think it's a catchup-and-laugh-pause, but if they were processing what he said and his facial expressions and decoding his quavering voice, they never would have laughed. Lissten to the rest of it.

As to those specific remarks, he's old enough have earned the right to be cynical about funerals of name-brand illuminati. Especially since this guy was ignored , by his (and mine too) measure in life ...

Re:Audience confused by pauses, sincerity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45728385)

With quotes from people like "the great poet Walt Kelly", you thought this wasn't intended to by darkly humorous?

You can laugh even while you cry.

Re:Audience confused by pauses, sincerity (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 4 months ago | (#45729137)

Actually POGO is considered serious social commentary and Walt Kelly a insightful chronicler of his times. His most famous quote being I believe, "We have met the enemy, and he is us".

Re:Audience confused by pauses, sincerity (1)

segedunum (883035) | about 4 months ago | (#45729891)

I'm afraid no one is getting the humour in this, even though it is a heartfelt eulogy in many ways.

Re:Audience confused by pauses, sincerity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45732521)

The laughter is entirely inappropriate. Ted's pausing because he's overcome with emotion. That choking sound, that's where we get the phrase "getting choked up". That sniffling sound? That's Ted repressing tears and not a cue that you just heard a Louis CK -style joke which somehow went whizzing over your head.

Well, that's your spin on it anyways.

Here's a guy -Ted Nelson - himself a luminary on par with Engelbart and Knuth, whose own vision for Xanadu : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Xanadu [wikipedia.org] has largely been ignored and forgotten IMO, honoring us with his actual, uncensored thoughts about the life and passing one of his fellow greats, and people don't get it, at all.

Nelson is no Engelbart or Knuth (except maybe in his own mind). Ted Nelson is smart, but he also suffers from mental issues (severe ADD and several other problems), and is incapable of programming (or doing much of anything really) on his own. He always relied on recruiting others to implement Xanadu and all his other grandiose ideas. Perhaps his greatest gift is a talent for convincing people (particularly fellow idealists) that Ted Nelson is a visionary who should be followed, even though he never has shown any talent whatsoever at the pragmatic details of getting from point A (the technology we have now) to point B (Nelson's grand utopian visions). Ted Nelson is the reason why Xanadu ever became semi-famous to begin with, but Ted Nelson is also why it failed. (Not exclusively why it failed, but a big part of it.)

Engelbart was a luminary because he had a clear vision of what was possible, and knew how it could be done. He wasn't in the right place or right time to do it himself, but many followed in his footsteps, and everyone knows that in the right context he could have had far more direct influence on computing history. Knuth is a luminary because of TAOCP, TeX, and his stature in the field of computer science. Ted Nelson has never personally been associated with any project which delivered or inspired anything real. He can't even claim the world wide web -- in fact, I'm pretty sure he's repudiated it before. It's not purist enough, you see. It doesn't support Xanadu features which Nelson believes are a requirement for a system to even call itself "hypertext".

Wired had a big Xanadu article a long while back which is enlightening:

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/3.06/xanadu.html?topic=&topic_set=

Nelson's Xanadu has existed (for certain values of "existed") for almost 50 years now. It has never amounted to anything, and it is clear that it never will. It really comes as no surprise that Nelson would say crazy, inappropriate, and vaguely self-promoting things at Engelbart's eulogy. That's who he is, that's what he does. I'm pretty sure he sincerely believes his own BS (we're talking about a guy who obsessively tape-records and films almost everything he says or does, out of the notion that he's making an important archive for future historians to sift through while looking for pearls of Ted Nelson wisdom), but that doesn't mean it's all that valuable.

This is how the world is. The vacuous - yet ambitious ! - (lived there, know them ) residents of Mountain View and Sunnyvale and Palo Alto don't even know it's them he's ripping when he says:"Perhaps his notion of accelerating collaboration and cooperation was a pipe dream in this dirty world of organizational politics, jockeying and backstabbing and euphemizing evil."

Sounds like you've got more than a little bit of Nelson's woe-is-me-I'm-a-genius-why-won't-anybody-take-me-serious mindset going.

SDS940! (1)

haapi (16700) | about 3 months ago | (#45730643)

I have worked on SDS940 computers (dates me, eh?) used in DE's demo -- they were mighty for their time, and ran time-sharing networks, etc.
By the late '70's, a simulator of the SDS940 running on a Dec-10 was faster than the actual 940 hardware.

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