The Elephant ideogram
The invisible elephant
Perhaps the main reason why the best ideas of our best minds are still waiting to be discovered by us others is – paradoxically – that they do make a difference! To make sense, and for us to appreciate it, an idea must fit in snuggly with our other ideas, or in other words – into our paradigm. But – as we mentioned – the best ideas of our best minds now compose a different paradigm! So it is only in that new context that their meaning and value can be understood.
Engelbart was well aware that it was a paradigm he was up against. When in the early 1990s he undertook to share his vision with the Silicon Valley academics, business people and developers, by teaching his "Bootstrap Seminar" at the Stanford University, he would begin with a series of vignettes illustrating the paradoxical responses to paradigms (an example is the prediction of Thomas J. Watson, IBM chair and CEO, who in the 1940s predicted that "there is a world market for about five computers"). It didn't help. And so we were are able to point out, in our proposal to some of the leaders of Stanford University and Google to use the opportunity of the 50th anniversary of Doug's Demo to correct this error (see the references below) that every time Englebart spoke or was spoken about or celebrated, there was an invisible 'elephant in the room'...
And so we have another keyword, the elephant. It conveniently points to two metaphors – "the elephant in the room" and "blind men and the elephant". Both apply most snuggly to our situation! An important point here is that as the organs of an elephant will only be truly understood when seen as functional parts of the whole big thing, so can the visions and contributions of giants only be understood when seen in the context of the new order of things which they are bringing into existence.
And so we undertake to depict the whole big thing – by producing this website. And also in other ways and places, as we'll show next.