Found in 16 comments on Hacker News
Liquix · 2024-05-07 · Original thread
> I'm going to guess that all of those early internet pioneers that you mentioned also have fond stories of LSD.

What the Dormouse Said by John Markoff is exactly that. A dive into how psychedelic counterculture made its mark on folks at Stanford, folks at XEROX PARC, Doug Engelbart, Jim Fadiman, Steve Jobs, etc. Not the most cohesive narrative but fascinating stories

dekhn · 2023-01-03 · Original thread
More on Silicon Valley:

TL;DR the computing world we know today was shaped (at least partly) by acidheads and potheads as well as some squares.

Liquix · 2019-10-28 · Original thread
Excellent links, haven't seen the Kay presentation before :)

For anyone interested in going down this (extraordinarily interesting) rabbit hole: the book What the Dormouse Said [0] by John Markoff paints a vivid picture of early (1945-1984ish) computer history. Featuring Engelbart, Jobs, Jim Fadiman, Stanford, MIT, Xerox, Tim Leary, and more. A light yet informative read; highly recommended.


Liquix · 2018-06-01 · Original thread
What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry is exactly what you're looking for. It goes way back to before Xerox or Apple, getting up close and personal with the visionaries who dreamt that computers would one day augment human intellect, especially Doug Engelbart. I wish I was better at summarizing books - this is really really worth reading

good_vibes · 2017-03-25 · Original thread
What did I bring up again? I'm confused what this about at this point. I feel like you are trying to create cognitive dissonance where there is none.

Read these:

fossuser · 2016-08-30 · Original thread
This is a very old argument that goes way back to the beginning of the entire field with Douglas Engelbart and his augmented computing project. At the time he was an outsider who thought the future of computing was enabling humans to do more as opposed to creating a general AI that would do it for us.

Some interesting reading:

fossuser · 2015-12-18 · Original thread
I'd guess that more than half of people I know in tech have tried or occasionally do psychedelic drugs (LSD, Psilocybin, MDMA). There does seem to be a correlation with an interest in them and computers going all the way back to the beginning.

If you're interested in the history I found What the Dormouse Said to be pretty interesting.

Liquix · 2015-05-06 · Original thread
Anyone interested in Doug Engelbart and his pioneering work at Stanford Research Institute (or computers in general) should check out What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry [0]. It goes back much further than Xerox or Apple to tell the tale of Engelbart's visionary Augment project and how his ideas led to the birth of the PC and the internet.

If you're not interested in purchasing the book, he gave an incredible hour and a half long demonstration of his system at the Fall Joint Computer Conference. Dubbed The Mother of All Demos [1], he displayed (for the first time in the world) remote video conferencing, hypertext, text editing, and a graphical windowing system. In 1968. Definitely worth a watch.



I was very surprised too and just found this:

Apparently the anecdote is from this book:

GuiA · 2014-03-04 · Original thread
I'm glad the taboos around psychedelics research, especially as tools for therapy, are slowly falling down- there's some fascinating stuff in there.

To people who have never experienced drugs, grown up in a culture that demonizes them all indiscriminately, have a hard time wrapping their head around what they are/do exactly but are curious about them, I recommend this article by Sam Harris, a great neuroscientist[0]

For a slightly more in depth essay, Aldous Huxley's "Doors of Perception" [1] is a great book, albeit slightly dated.

There are also some extremely interesting synergies between the origins of the computer industry and the psychedelics/California counter culture era. John Markoff's "What the Dormouse Said" [2] is a fantastic read, although it requires knowing about computer history a little bit already. I learned from it that there was scientific research on LSD conducted in Menlo Park, a few blocks away from where I used to live.

There's also a great essay by Timothy Leary about parallels between psychedelics as tools for expanding the human mind and the computer as a tool to enhance the human brain in Brenda Laurel's book "Art of Human Computer Interaction Design". [3]

There's a great essay by Carl Sagan about his experiences using marijuana creatively/intellectually [4].

I had never tried any drugs before moving to California in my 20s, and had grown up in a fairly standard European culture of all drugs = the devil. Some changes occurred, and it turns out there's a really fascinating history and philosophy in there (especially w/ regards to parallels with computer history, as described in the aforementioned book).






GuiA · 2013-11-20 · Original thread
The intersection of tech culture (and notably Silicon Valley) and 60s counterculture is a fascinating topic.

The best book on the subject is, in my opinion, "What the Dormouse Said" by John Markoff [0]. It's a fantastic book, although it requires the reader to already have some knowledge of the people and historical events, as it is not meant to be a computer history primer.

But yeah, it's a great book, and a lot of stuff in there might surprise some readers. For instance, I learned that there was LSD research happening a few blocks away from where I used to live in Menlo Park :)

Timothy Leary also has an interesting essay in Laurel's "Art of Human Computer Interface Design" anthology[1] about what he believes are the intersections of computing as a human tool and psychedelics.

When you start to look into it, you'll realize that the tech industry and California's friendly attitude towards psychedelics have always somewhat gone hand in hand- and people who are not familiar with California's atypical culture might be surprised to know that some of the engineers and designers behind their favorite products share a few things in common with the ol' Timothy.

Queue the necessary: "There are two major products that come from Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence."



Anyone curious about the very strong psychedelic-PC connection should read John Markoff's book:

"What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry"

dlg · 2013-07-03 · Original thread
Anyone who works in interactive computing should be familiar with Doug Engelbart's work.

Years ago, at one of the first conferences on interactive computer, after people spent all day presenting their new work, Andy van Dam--builder of the first hypertext system with Ted Nelson who named it--stood up and said "you should all be ashamed that you don't know your history. Doug Engelbart invented almost everything presented here years ago." And he was right.

I hope a lot of you are watching The Mother of All Demos But it's worth reading and understanding the reasons why Doug was working on all of this.

Doug and his crew at SRI had the goal of "human augmentation". Everyone else at the forefront of the computer industry thought we'd have general AI by the 1970s. They instead believed that GAI wasn't within reach. They believed that the things we wanted to build and accomplish as a society weren't doable with the communication tools we had.

They had the idea that computers could be tools to help individuals work. Since computers were multi-million dollar calculating machines, the idea that people would have a computer at their desk and that they'd help us to communicate and manage information was beyond-out-there.

But after leaving Engelbart's group at SRI, lots of his team joined PARC and built the modern GUI and networking.

For a history of the details, I highly recommend reading Markoff's What the Dormouse Said

[Bonus: If you like Engelbart's MOAD, also watch Ivan Sutherland's Sketchpad Demo.]

I only tend to comment about once-a-year on HN, but it would be impossible not to say something about Doug and the impact he's had on our world.

Edit: Sutherland's Sketchpad

cynwoody · 2012-10-31 · Original thread
I don't know the answer, but I am reminded of John Markoff's 2006 book What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry[1].

If you've forgotten what the dormouse said, listen:


mtraven · 2011-10-29 · Original thread
I'm all for billionaires using their money to fund research, but that NRO article was so bad that I question his judgement.

1) I don't know what tech slowdown he's talking about. The cost of genome sequencing is falling at faster-than-Moore's law rates; that's probably the most significant growth area right now.

2) Thiel is a Singulatarian [3]; I thought the point of that was that exponential growth is inevitable. It's that coupled with this article that leads me to dub him bipolar. If you believe in the Singularity I presume you believe it will happen with or without any particular pool of money.

3) This paragraph. Maybe sounding like Grampa Simpson is required to get into NRO. And who in their right mind considers Robert Moses and Brasilia good models for anything?

> "towards the end Robert Moses, the great builder of New York City in the 1950s and 1960s, or Oscar Niemeyer, the great architect of Brasilia, belong to a past when people still had concrete ideas about the future. Voters today prefer Victorian houses. Science fiction has collapsed as a literary genre. Men reached the moon in July 1969, and Woodstock began three weeks later. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that this was when the hippies took over the country, and when the true cultural war over Progress was lost."

Damn hippies! And here I heard that they helped invent personal computing [1] and saved physics [2].

[1] [2] [3]

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