Avoiding the Final Death

I talked to a friend yesterday about all the artifacts I collect and want to collect. #

I have a growing collection of software from Living Videotext, a complete set of Mondo 2000 magazines, and I was debating whether or not I wanted to spend $500 on Origins of Cyberspace. #

He asked, “Does having these things make you feel good?” #

After thinking about this more, I’ve realized that it simultaneously makes me feel good but also incredibly sad. I mean, I guess that’s the definition of nostalgia. #

I feel like everything is so ephemeral, especially regarding technology. Software from 20 years ago might not run anymore on modern computers. Douglas Engelbart spent his entire life pursuing a mission that was never fully realized. He had so many ideas that people dismissed because they didn’t understand or didn’t think it would be profitable. #

I’m digging through old videos and documents to piece together what he was thinking, but it’s challenging. It would be better if he were still here, and I could ask him questions, show him my demos and ask for feedback. #

It reminds me of the movie Coco where Miguel witnesses someone dying and fading away. When he asks what happened he’s told: #

He’s been forgotten. When there’s no one left in the living world who remembers you, you disappear from this world. We call it the final death. #

Final death is not only for people but for ideas. What dreams and visions died with Engelbart? We can try to learn from what he left behind, but it’s still a sample of what was in his head. What had he figured out but was unable to communicate to others? #

That’s why I try to connect with as many super-smart visionary people as I can. I want to share their vision and help make it a reality. #

Published by Andrew Shell on and last updated .