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“Throughout the period I examined, in short, my “thinking” time was devoted mainly to activities that were essentially clerical or mechanical: searching, calculating, plotting, transforming, determining the logical or dynamic consequences of a set of assumptions or hypotheses, preparing the way for a decision or an insight. Moreover, my choices of what to attempt and what not to attempt were determined to an embarrassingly great extent by considerations of clerical feasibility, not intellectual capability.” 

Having just taken a course that used a substantial amount of Excel work, this paragraph struck me with the time-saving mechanisms that are available to us now. Sure, I know how and could enter every single line of data and equations into the Excel spreadsheet, however, the amount of time I would save if I were to copy and paste, etc., could be better used for “thinking time” or formulating an answer. As the article suggested, while I can do the work, however slowly, the computer can do the same work just as accurately and quickly. Therefore, symbiotic cooperation.

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“Certainly, for effective man-computer interaction, it will be necessary for the man and the computer to draw graphs and pictures and to write notes and equations to each other on the same display surface. The man should be able to present a function to the computer, in a rough but rapid fashion, by drawing a graph. The computer should read the man’s writing, perhaps on the condition that it be in clear block capitals, and it should immediately post, at the location of each hand-drawn symbol, the corresponding character as interpreted and put into precise type-face. With such an input-output device, the operator would quickly learn to write or print in a manner legible to the machine.”

It is so fascinating to read the words of someone from fifty years ago and realize that what he is describing is something that has been created and is used by many people on a regular basis. This is how technology is born. Great minds thinking aloud, sharing ideas with others. It makes me wonder who first had the thought of a light bulb or the telephone. Who first spoke the thought aloud? I wonder…

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