From the book lists at Adware Report:

All information current as of 02:56:41 Pacific Time, Monday, 21 February 2005.

Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing (Writing Science (Paperback))

   by Thierry Bardini

    Stanford University Press
    01 December, 2000


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Editorial description(s):
Some revolutions are thoroughly televised. When Douglas Engelbart first demonstrated small-w windows and a funny wooden device called a mouse back in 1968, interest jumped quickly and he became the progenitor of the PC. Now, less widely known than the successful entrepreneurs who made billions from his innovations, his story deserves deeper attention as an outstanding example of practical creative research. Communications professor Thierry Bardini examines the scope of his work before and during his tenure at the Stanford Research Institute in Bootstrapping, a thoughtful history of an underreported story.

Bardini cleverly sidesteps the postmodern superanalysis of his colleagues to present a clear, straightforward glimpse into Engelbart's environment of inspiration. As an engineer familiar with the earliest computers, he quickly came to understand that their complexity could rapidly outpace human ability to cope--and thus was born the concept of the "user." His team used their computing power to determine how best to use their computing power--a reflexive assignment of profound brilliance--and churned out novel concepts and designs faster than their contemporaries could absorb them.

How and why this occurred as it did is the focus of Bardini's research, and students of creativity and the history of computing will have fits of ecstasy that he has compiled his work so accessibly. Better still, Bootstrapping shows research done right and is essential reading for R&D types everywhere. --Rob Lightner

From Book News, Inc.
Bardini (communication, Universite de Montreal) analyzes the genesis of personal computing through a close study of Engelbart's life. It also examines the "bootstrapping" process by which the invention of new hardware and software systems was simultaneously matched with the creation of a new concept we call the "user." Engelbart's work and his vision for a human-computer interface is considered in its historical context.Book News, Inc.®, Portland, OR

Book Description
Bootstrapping analyzes the genesis of personal computing from both technological and social perspectives, through a close study of the pathbreaking work of one researcher, Douglas Engelbart. In his lab at the Stanford Research Institute in the 1960s, Engelbart, along with a small team of researchers, developed some of the cornerstones of personal computing as we know it, including the mouse, the windowed user interface, and hypertext. Today, all these technologies are well known, even taken for granted, but the assumptions and motivations behind their invention are not. Bootstrapping establishes Douglas Engelbart';s contribution through a detailed history of both the material and the symbolic constitution of his system';s human-computer interface in the context of the computer research community in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s.

Engelbart felt that the complexity of many of the world';s problems was becoming overwhelming, and the time for solving these problems was becoming shorter and shorter. What was needed, he determined, was a system that would augment human intelligence, co-transforming or co-evolving both humans and the machines they use. He sought a systematic way to think and organize this coevolution in an effort to discover a path on which a radical technological improvement could lead to a radical improvement in how to make people work effectively. What was involved in Engelbart';s project was not just the invention of a computerized system that would enable humans, acting together, to manage complexity, but the invention of a new kind of human, "the user." What he ultimately envisioned was a "bootstrapping" process by which those who actually invented the hardware and software of this new system would simultaneously reinvent the human in a new form.

The book also offers a careful narrative of the collapse of Engelbart';s laboratory at Stanford Research Institute, and the further translation of Engelbart';s vision. It shows that Engelbart';s ultimate goal of coevolution came to be translated in terms of technological progress and human adaptation to supposedly user-friendly technologies. At a time of the massive diffusion of the World Wide Web, Bootstrapping recalls the early experiments and original ideals that led to today';s "information revolution."

Reader review(s):

Story of a little known pioneer!, August 4, 2001
These days only the big guys get the credit for the technology we use every day. In Bootstrapping, Bardini looks at the life and contributions of Douglas Engelbart to the personal computing revolution. More than the story of technology, Bootstrapping is the story of a personal crusade to make interfacing with computers easier. Bardini focuses too much on the person and not enough on the context of Engelbart's innovations, hence the 4 stars.

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