motz
divendres, 23. de novembre 2001

"to the best of my knowledge"

i couldn't resist. i was already getting annoyed by going through all that papers (slauti has cleaned up now), still hearing adele goldberg, telling me: simply ask. so i did. i asked her following question:
"what was it, alan kay was talking about 1970, that is quoted as: "I only hired people that got stars in their eyes when they heard about the notebook computer idea."?? did he talk about what later became known as dynabook or can i say he had the idea of the notetaker in mind?? (well, the formulation sucks, and i have to admit i got kind of obsessed with that point, but what the hack. the important thing is, i got an answer and another piece in my hand to tell the story right.)

her reply:

Hi Mariann,
I am delighted to hear from you.
(couldn't leave that out g)
Here is my answer to the question, to the best of my knowledge. First, Alan's vision since 1972 was expressed as "The Dynabook". He had a cardboard mockup of the physical idea...a flat device the size of a notebook binder in width and height, but very thin (like the thin technology size portables of today). There was no lid...more like a pad of paper whose surface was a touchable screen. It had wireless communications capability. He always stated that the problem was the software for the Dynabook--how to have good software that let people access and manipulate information, including the ability for these people to write programs. Hence the years of work in Smalltalk were a combination of exploring media, integration of media, and programming environment.
In 1978, in cooperation with Doug Fairbairn in another group at Xerox PARC, our group designed and built our first truly portable computer which was named the NoteTaker (in our mind, it was yet another step towards getting to the Dynabook). The first NoteTaker was a dual processor 8086 with a small CRT and battery packs. It was small enough to fit under an airplane seat (actually in coach but apparently not in first class!). I recall that Larry Tesler, then a member of our group, took one on a trip. The software we wrote for this machine was Smalltalk-78, a new implementation of the language Smalltalk-76, and the first implementation for a standard processor. The second NoteTaker was just a design on paper to solve some packaging problems, but was not built. Doug went off I believe at that point as a founder of VLSI Technologies.
I also recall that the name NoteTaker was given to the machine because one of the interesting applications we envisioned was that children could take their computer with them into the library to gather information (i.e., "take notes") in a form that could be edited and manipulated, including as data for some program that tested a research hypothesis. The name Dynabook obviously was shorthand for Dynamic Book. Its ideas were documented in an early paper called "Personal Dynamic Media" that was a Xerox PARC report and republished in IEEE Computer in 1977.
Hope this helps
Adele

and who the hell is listening "matrix"? i thought people are always missing it?? adele wrote she already received a message as a result of my radio report. is this good or bad news? anyhow, she promised me a forward. let's wait.

... Comment

sidestep

so, and please excuse me if i take a step aside from the actual story; so: you are practising living history. first time i heard this term was during my studies, history, when "living history" was the name for a certain kind of scientific investigation, it meant interviewing "witnesses" and putting their words into the perspective of the whole story. actually the only persons interviewed were survivors of the 3rd Reich, but still, it was called ascientific method with all the theoretic and methodic writings behind.

anyway, just a few days ago, when i agreed to take care of the child of a friend some days ago, i put the child's seat into our car and fastened it and made sure the seat belt fit, and after 10 minutes of hard work i turned around and asked her: Do you remember when we were childs? seatbelts were a new invention, and special seats for childs were unheard of, do you remember? - and i could tell from her face that she had a hard time remembering, and i went on to tell her: you know, when i was 4 or five years old, i used to sit on the driver's lap and "help" with steering the car. and she said: yes, so did i, but imagine, i forgot all about that until you mentioned it, so:

living history got a new meaning for me at that point, conserving the memory of the things that seem so obvious at some point, but get diffused and forgotten over time...

just a little point with a long explanation, what i want to say is "get it while you can".

so? what?

so what?

so, i think, those questions, asked or mailed, are important preservers of the intentions and securities at a certain point of time, and while some may think they (and their answers) became obsolete with new developments, in a way i'm still sure that they can tell us something... sometime


concerning your question "who listens to matrix", i dont know... i always intend to, but still, i always miss it... ever tought of an online reminder system?

... Link

well

forget the scientific part and then you have journalism. there is o whole crowd out there, who hasn't learned something, but found a way to make their living by calling themselves journalists :)) and some people even name it a profession. well, no sé. i prefer to learn and to have fun.

and a reminder-system for matrix? don't think so. i guess, i like to be surprised. there are already too many reminders out there. no more pressure, dates, citas, por favor :))

... link

not really...

because journalism usually notices the exceptional, not the ordinary. so? for those who are 20 today, it will be hard to understand the sensation of the "dynabook", seen from its time, because they don't know how far away all that was in the (early) 70ies.

just a thought, probably obsolete.

... link

would be nice

if journalism would mean to put the sensational into context, no? also to be able to realize the exceptional you have to know the ordinary and something in between, so that it doesn't make it sound like black and white.
hey, but i don't understand this here as satisfying a wide range of audience.

... link


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