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"I felt that since the content of personal computing was interactive tools, that the content of this new kind of authoring literacy should be the creation of interactive tools by children. "
Children and researchers at Xerox PARC

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Click to play videoAbout the Learning Research Group


Learning Research Group <1970>

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."