Thursday, February 28, 2019

On Being Interviewed by Gardner Campbell

As part of week two of the annotation project on Doug Engelbart's 1962 report - manifesto- Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework, I was interviewed by Gardner Campbell, the project leader.

This open project has aimed at going back to the the dream of the pioneers of the Internet, to review the vision they had of where we are today in our fast paced connected existence. Amid the foreshadowing of the then imaginary future, the flashback of trying to imagine how a man could accurately describe the way I can read him and write annotations more than half a century later, annotators from diverse backgrounds have been expanding the scope of our understanding about a distant 1962 mirror showing what interconnectedness could have been. Engelbart's image remains intact, as a young portrait of a visionary artist.

To make this project/expedition go further, a set of 14 featured annotators have been chosen to explore another level of reflection, a meta-annotation context of sorts where people can voice their connections to the work of Engelbart as well as their choices of paragraphs for their annotations. To reflect on how you reach those reflections while recording emerging ideas adds a layer of interestingness I have not experienced online before.

Following the meta-nature of this project, I would like to write a couple of backstage comments around this interview, actually my first video appearance online.

Allow me to express that when Gardner asked me to be part of this, I felt challenged, honoured and intrigued. I went why-me mode for a whole day or two before accepting. My educational background is far from engineering or computer systems. How could my own teaching English as a foreign language intermingle with Engelbart's framework? Yet one thing was certain: Gardner trusted I could make a valuable contribution. Trust does it. It dissolves doubts.

Gardner and I have been reading each other on our blogs for about a decade. As we recall at the start of our conversation, it was probably a brief twitter exchange followed by curiosity and reflection that made us stay on each other's radar.  That was back in 2007. We had never had a synchronous talk until February 2019.

It was such a treat. I hardly felt it was a first conversation. It was the closest thing to collaboratively blogging out loud. It just flowed and I personally lost track of time. Time travelling towards Engelbart's context in writing, Gardner pointed out the links between my ideas and the research framework of 1962; at the same time, I think we also resumed a conversation paused a decade ago, with our blogging spirit unmarred by the present disbelief which pervades in teachers' staffroon around us these days. We have managed to maximize the window where our visions were projected back in 2007. Luckily, that link has not been broken. It is still well worth a bookmark to revisit.

And now I choose to think we have had a much delayed first meeting of old friends. What you will find in that video is two people enjoying the chance of synchronous thinking together, intensely exploring our layered minds with our ideas and accelerating augmentation. It definitely went beyond my expectations.

It has certainly been one of those amazing stories of connectedness, not remembered, but recorded as it developed. It makes me grateful to live at a time when the Internet can unite Virginia and Buenos Aires with a click. Such an everyday thing, you say? But for those of us who started writing with a lonely typewriter, we still recognize Internet is magic.

All I can add to end this post is a deep heartfelt thank you, Gardner. I look forward to more conversations.

Special thanks to my blogger friend Gabriela, who hosted the web meeting in her home and shared thoughts and lunch with me afterwords.

Hope you enjoy the interview.

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