Bill English [who worked under Douglas
Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute] took me
under his wing and helped me start my group as I had always
been a lone wolf and had no idea how to do it.
I needed a group because I had finally
realized that I did not have all of the temperaments required
to completely finish an idea. I called it the Learning
Research Group (LRG) to be as vague as possible about
our charter. I only hired people that got stars in their
eyes when they heard about the notebook computer idea.
I didn't like meetings: didn't believe brainstorming could
substitute for cool sustained thought. When anyone asked
me what to do, and I didn't have a strong idea, I would
point at the notebook model and say, "Advance that!"
The particular aim of LRG was to find
the equivalent of writing that is learning and
thinking by doing in a medium our new "pocket
universe." For various reasons I had settled on "iconic
programming' as the way to achieve this on the iconic
representations used by many ARPA projects in the sixties.
Hence we were thinking about learning
as being one of the main effects we wanted to have happen.
Early on, this led to a 90 degree rotation of the purpose
of the user interface from "access to functionality"
to "environment in which users learn by doing."
This new stance could now respond to the echos of Montessori
and Dewey, particularly the former, and to me, on rereading
Jerome BRuner, to think beyond the children's curriculum
to a "curriculum of the user interface."