Doug had an epiphany of computers helping us work together to solce urgent, complex problems. He then for funded to write his Augmenting Human Intellect paper which was published in 1962. In this paper he discesses a hypothetical system he dubs H-LAM/T. Work starts later on a system which is initially called NLS and when the lab was disbanded, renamed Augment when they sold it Tymeshare.
A bit of an introduction.
From Doug's 62 Augment paper: "Continuos use of NLS to store ideas, study them, relate them structurally, and cross reference them results in a superior organization of ideas and a greater ability to manipulate them further for special purposes, as the need arises - whether the ideas are expressed as natural language, as data, as programming, or as graphic information".
The emphasis was on relations and structure. Hierarchical, structured text, not loose text: A 'text' (we call it a file today, of text file) is simply and structured set of character strings (or statements). All text handled in NLS was in 'structured-statement' form, a hierarchical arrangement (Ted hates hierarchies btw) of these character strings resembling a conventional outline. Every single statement possessed identifying features such as an address number (indicating its position and level in the structure) and a 'signature' (a line of text with the initials of the user who created the statement and the time and date).
A lot is said in the name orignal name of the system; H-LAM/T: Human using Language, Artifacts and Methodology in which he is Trained. The reference to language refers to the fact that that the rules of language is an active part of the system. Language itself is a humanly constructed set of rules which augments uses - it is an important part of what Doug refers to as the human system (in contrast to the tools system ) and Doug is drawing it across to the tool system.. He wants NLS to augment our use of language. He has talked to me about, for example, having the text you are reading color coded based on the types of words you are seeing, to enhance skimming unfamiliar, technical maybe, text. He also feels that since we have grammar guiding sentence structures, why not have grammar outside the sentence, governing a whole argument?
Structure There is one premise here which is unspoken
and important: What we do is or can be structured to help
us make sense of our world AND help us communicate with other
people, as we share knowledge of the structures used, so we don't
have cheap daytime political talk where they are just talking
'around each other'. Doug talks about structures in the 62 paper:
mental structures, concept structures, concept structures, process
structures and physical structures.
-- And the point here people is that these things help us think and communicate, sure, but they are interdependent, change one and the others change. This is part of the evolution of the system, human and tool, in a process where improving the different parts improve the others; bootstrapping.
Mouse From the Doug book, quoting his notebook, which has since been lost: "I remember sitting at some graphics conference and just feeling at a wall because everybody was talking and I'm not skillful at all in getting them to listen to me. So a lot of times out of frustration I'd start talking to myself. I remember thinking, 'Oh, how would you control a cursor in different ways?" I remember how my head went back to a device called a planimeter that engineering uses. It's a little mechanical thing... I saw that used when I was a senior and I was fascinated." That was the Reno November 1963 Graphics Conference.
Doug saw three basic types of activity for the NLS user: -Composition (entering text), small section -Study (is very important, using the jumping controls, view controls, content analysis, indexing and linking) and -Modification (refers to the editing such as inserting, deleting, moving etc.).
Doug's NLS demo.
When you sit down to use NLS you'll quickly notice that the screen is split into two, with a larger, main area on the bottom, and a smaller, text and command entry area on top. Doug shows how you can enter text in the area on the top and insert it anywhere you want.
He then illustrates how you can jump around the document. You can go to the top, to another leve and so on.
Doug then explains how addressing plays a role; you can jump anywhere you want because you can address anything you want.
Fleur asks how that relates to links. Doug explains that a link is one type of a jump; you can also enter a command to skip to the first URL in a document and such. In the real world, you can write an address to a place, with zip code and all that. But you can also use relative addressing, like, "go down two blocks until you see a red house. Turn right. It's the second building on the left."
Doug then goes through a series of commands like 'replace' and so on.
A lot of knowledge work can be called studying. Being able to flexibly and easily generate different views of your information is very useful
Content analysis is also shown.
In closing Fleur coments how the name of the original sums the system up quite well: H-LAM/T: Human using Language, Artifacts and Methodology in which he is Trained. You do need to be trained to use the system, but you get amply rewarded, as in with many things in life. Doug then refers to riding bikes vs tricycles and reading books.