Saturday, December 06, 2008

40 years ago this week... the future as demo

I first read about Doug Engelbart's innovations in collaborative computer technology in mid-1980s books by Ted Nelson and Howard Rheingold, more than 15 years after Engelbart entranced an audience of engineers with a demonstration -- in 1968 -- of devices and ideas that most of the world wouldn't see for decades... the first mouse, hypertext linkages, expanding on-screen outlines, and a bigger idea behind them: That creative use of connected computers could augment human intelligence.

Luckily, that 1968 glimpse of the future was preserved on film and has been available in various Web incarnations. Now, for its 40th anniversary, you can read, watch and listen to more here:

The Innovation Journalism Blog: Come Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Engelbart's "Mother of All Demos":

"On December 9 1968, Doug Engelbart and his team from SRI International Augmentation Research Center performed 'the mother of all demos' in front of a gaping audience of one thousand computer engineers. The demo let the cat out of the bag in a monumental way; Doug's big idea that the big thing about computers was not automation, but augmenting human intelligence was demonstrated in real life... The audience could do nothing but cheer."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Telling a friend's story

Jeanna Duerscherl of The Roanoke Times steps out from behind her cameras to talk about covering the very personal story of a friend's battle with a rare, incurable cancer. See her blog at Backstory: Photographing my friend:

"Typically, journalists tend to avoid telling stories about people they know on a personal level. It's complicated: Our job is to tell people's stories - not become part of the story. And when we have closer, personal relationships with the people whose stories we're telling, sometimes our stories intertwine. And sometimes it becomes impossible not to become part of their story. That's why we explain our relationships to our readers."

The photojournalist shot video interviews with her roller-derby friend, Brooke Smith, as well as a slideshow of stills that accompany the story. In her blog essay, she discusses the thought process behind doing the story at all:

"I needed to make sure I would be doing it because I believe this story has the power to make people stop for a moment and reflect on their own lives."

To see how well she succeeded, here's the full story, Brooke Smith: Letting go, letting God. The text is by reporter Rob Johnson, who also interviewed Brooke's doctors and friends.

(The designer of the white-text-on-black Web page isn't credited. Personally, I think that layout makes the story hard to read, but the "print this" button switches it to black-on-white.)