Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Technography

Author:Bernie DeKoven
Posted:12/7/1998; 11:36:54 AM
Topic:Technography
Msg #:917 (In response to 881)
Prev/Next:916 / 918

The origins of technography according to Bernie DeKoven

It was 1984. An auspicious year. The videogame industry had taken a deep dive into the mass market hysteria. Atari was undergoing a variety of near-death experiences.

No, it was 1981, around. Yeah, thatís it. I was working for Automated Simulations/Epyx designing games for state-of-the art TRS-80 and the Atari VCS. I found myself programming an outliner. I needed something that would let me keep track of all the amazing detail you could cram into 1.8K. I needed a tool that would let me make lists, and lists of lists. That was basically it. I needed to make lists. Lists that I could add to at any place, between any items. Open-ended, open-middled lists that I could organize and reorganize at whim. And lists of lists. I needed such a tool. And I was making one. And I came across Dave Winer.

OK. Now itís 1984 again. And big brother, who, in my narrow world was being played by Nolan Bushnell, was almost out of business. And so am I. Which makes me think. Before I was a game designer, I was running training programs where I taught people about play and games by playing and then brainstorming ways to make the game better.

Well, brainstorming is all about making lists. And with tools like ThinkTank and MORE I have a list-making technology that could make hurricanes out of brainstorms.

And now itís 1986. Iíve been making an actual living facilitating strategic planning meetings. One of the first was for Atari of blessed memory. Technically, conceptually, productivity-wise, it was amazingly successful. I was using 4 monitors, 3 back-to-back-to-back in an outward facing triangle in the center of a circle of tables. The 4th in front of me.

And Iím using MORE and MacDraw even, live.

And Iíve become some kind of expert connection between people and their ideas. Iím providing them responsive, intelligent, instant access. And I am doing this so expertly that Iím almost invisible. People are acting as if theyíre making the computer work, making it write down their ideas and organize their ideas into a coherent vision.

And Iím using MORE just like youíd use it if you were all by yourself, to get down, get sloppy, get it said Ė and then edit and organize and craft into a conceptual whole. To be catchy and cute, I starting calling this outliner-unique process the C-Cycle: Collect, Connect, Correct.

And Iíve written a booklet called POWER MEETINGS and Iíve trained my first three associates. To do what I do. To learn how to see a computer screen as the group sees it. To learn how to give each person control, while using features such as collapse and expand to maintain focus.

And we decide to call ourselves Tecretaries.

And then we change our minds. Because the image of Tecretary apparently does not evoke the kind of service that people would pay $2000 a day to have around. Because the service, when performed successfully, can be worth easily 100 times its cost.

And so technography was born.

In 1990 I publish Connected Executives and manage to catch the conceptual eye of Doug Engelbart, Terry Winograd, Esther Dyson, Tom Peters.

And so technography becomes legitimate: a real word and a real world function.


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