Inquiry Project Proposal Draft #1

A topic that has continued to pop up in the readings given to us is the relationship between humans and computers, and how much potential this interaction has with the evolution and growth of mankind.  Now, I don’t necessarily know how I’m going to incorporate this idea into my project and turn it into a full blown essay, but I know that I want this idea to be the basis of my project.  What are your thoughts on this idea?

Computer Lib / Dream Machines Nugget

“But today, at this moment, we can and must design the media, design the molecules of our new water, and I believe the details of this design matter very deeply. They will be with us for a very long time, perhaps as long as man has left; perhaps if they are as good as they can be, man may buy even more time— or the open-ended future most suppose remains.” (Nelson)

This excerpt from Nelsons book,  Computer Lib/Dream Machines talks about how we now live in a world surrounded by media, and how much media influences us and keeps us up to date.  Most of us come in contact with some form of media everyday, and instead of living in the past and resisting the rapid growth of media, we must embrace it and use it to express our creativity and ideas.  With this in mind, I think Nelson encourages us to find new ways to enhance our means of living through media and use of computers in order to keep the human race in existence.  It also amazes me how long ago this book was made and how relevant it still is today, as if Nelson was predicting our future.

Augmenting Human Intellect Nugget

Engelbart mentions how as man in population and gross product increases, so does the complexity of his/her problems, as well as the urgency for the solution.  I think that the two variables kind of correlate with each other in an interesting way.  To further elaborate, I agree with Engelbart that as our human activity grows, so do the problems and the urgency for solution.  However, I believe that at a certain period in time, the solutions will come just as quick as the problems come, and then after that period, we will eventually fall back into the phase of increasing problems and urgency for the solution.  So to me it seems like a big cycle, but in the end man still gains the overall knowledge of both the problem and solution, and I think that is the most important factor to look into when talking about augmenting human intellect.

Progress Report/Reflection

So far, I have been very interested in this class.  The articles that we are given to read and reflect on have been intriguing and give us a lot of to write about in our nuggets, as opposed to boring articles that are hard to write reflections on.  I also enjoy the freedom of writing blogs without worrying about the professor breathing down our necks about what exactly to write and how to write it.

The only problem I have with this course is getting the daily homework done on time, which is obviously a personal problem, but it’s definitely a problem that I am working on.  Overall, I think this is a fun class with a great professor and I am excited to get back on track and enjoy the rest of the semester.


5.1 Speed Mismatch Between Men and Computers

This specific nugget from the article “Man Computer Symbiosis” had me thinking about how quickly computers are developing everyday.  As more knowledge is gained from man and implanted into computers, the more information is processed and outputted for humans to process.  It’s always good to think about the future 10-15 years from now, but it seems to me that a potentially powerful and productive  Man – Symbiosis process is already occurring in the present and that is what humans should focus on.

What I would be currently worried about is us developing our computers at a rate too fast for us to handle, for example computers developing minds of their own and eventually overpowering humans (just a thought).

Overall, I thought this was a very interesting article on the development of man-computer co-creation.


“As We May Think” Nugget

“Machines with interchangeable parts can now be constructed with great economy of effort. In spite of much complexity, they perform reliably. Witness the humble typewriter, or the movie camera, or the automobile. Electrical contacts have ceased to stick when thoroughly understood. Note the automatic telephone exchange, which has hundreds of thousands of such contacts, and yet is reliable. A spider web of metal, sealed in a thin glass container, a wire heated to brilliant glow, in short, the thermionic tube of radio sets, is made by the hundred million, tossed about in packages, plugged into sockets—and it works! Its gossamer parts, the precise location and alignment involved in its construction, would have occupied a master craftsman of the guild for months; now it is built for thirty cents. The world has arrived at an age of cheap complex devices of great reliability; and something is bound to come of it.” (Bush)

This nugget from the “As We May Think” article was particularly interesting to me because it talks about how far we have come as humans, and how quickly we are moving on.  Over time you can see how our inventions and ideas have evolved from being simplistic to complex.  At one point in history, the telephone was considered a national treasure for its groundbreaking and complicated technologies, and now, everyone over the age of 12 has their own iPhone.  With the use of the Internet, we are gaining knowledge at an exponential rate, and with that, comes a flood of new ideas and creations that in the future will blow today’s technology out of the water.