Saturday, September 13, 2008

Historical Perspective Essay-VChaisson

Theory and Research in HCI – Historical Perspective Essay
9-13-08 Valerie Chaisson

Even before the 1920’s, we have been creating, designing and developing calculators. Vannevar Bush worked toward the evolution of computers, leading science and technology in the direction of what we have today. By 1959, researchers at the MIT Servomechanisms lab were demonstrating computer-assisted manufacturing. In 1957, at the St. Erik International Trade Fair on Automation in Stockholm, Sweden, the Planet Company had commercialized their Universal Transfer Device (UTD). They marketed it as PLANETBOT. It was hydraulically powered, and the polar coordinate arm had five axes of motion, which allowed for 25 individual movements. Eventually, they sold eight units to General Motors, which used the robot to handle hot castings in their radiator production operation. Though this model was redesigned many times for durability, the process and idea had arrived.
I believe this was a turning point for the greater good for all humanity. Not only were we inspired to automate, create and press forward, we learned by trial and error how to progress. There is a unique role with-in the field of HCI. This is the role to create and build a Human-Robot to interact with children who have Autism. Autism is a developmental disability that impacts individuals. It can impact their social function in areas of empathy, basic interaction and communication. The differences within each individual can vary greatly. There are some who can function at a ‘high level’ with only some delays in communication and socialization. While others function on a ‘low functioning’ spectrum and have a greater challenge of interacting. Other characteristics of Autism include, but are not limited to, repetitiveness, preferences to being alone, spinning objects and/or obsessive attachments. While there are many people studying this topic, I’d like to discuss a few that I found impressive.
One person who is on the front line of research and awareness in this topic is Dr. Gregory Abowd. Dr. Abowd is the Distinguished Professor in the college of computing and GVU Center at GA Tech. He is also a co-director of the Aware Home Research Initiative. His research explores both the human-centered and technology-driven research themes. Since 1995, he has led several influential computing projects; including Cyberguide, eClass (Classroom 2000), Aware Home, and created tools to support caregivers for children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Dr. Abowd is a co-author of a major textbook on HCI and has published over 150 peer reviewed scientific articles in the area of Ubiquitous Computing, HCI and software engineering. Not only is Dr. Abowd accomplished in his profession, he is also a strong advocate for technology research in relation to autism, and he also serves on the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Cure Autism Now Foundation. He encourages computer scientists to explore the applications of their work to help with the problems of relevance for the community with developmental disabilities.
The President’s report (Vol 15, No.1, July 2005) states in the Health and Nutrition section that autism therapy is bedeviled by unpredictable outcomes. Even with the best behavioral treatments, which are the only ones to have been scientifically demonstrated to work, says Laura Schreibman, who is a professor of psychology and also director of UC San Diego’s Autism Research Program. Dr. Schreibman says that some children can improve, while many families try one thing after another. Months can go by before finding any intervention that is best suited for the child. With that being said however, many more people are trying and gaining ground in this area of research. Joshua Halipern, a student at the University of Illinois is another pioneer in this field as well. Joshua is examining the existing of HCI research on those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD); he also proposes a new direction for investigation in this area. With HCI, they want to develop new techniques that will use technology that can assist practitioners and parents to teach their children with ASD to be able to talk and develop on a more normal level. A treatment that was started around 1960 by Ivar Lovaas, called ‘applied behavior analysis’ that began to teach children with autism new behaviors thru a technique that relied upon using objects, food and actions as rewards to achieve behavior. Thru trials and sessions, the children eventually learned to respond to the researcher in such a way that they would with people in their environment. This research has drawbacks however, such as requiring many sessions with a trained professional, the time it takes for a practitioner or parent to do the training and finally and most important here is the need for the child to interact with a human being. Many with ASD are anxious, they demonstrate the need to be alone, and if this is the primary way of teaching it does pose many degrees of difficulty for the child with ASD.
HCI researchers have approached ASD in three primary areas. Work by Dr. Abowd and others have explored the benefits of technology to aid the diagnosis process of ASD. Furthermore, they are developing the effects of technological environments and their impact on the children with ASD. Their work uses virtual environments as well as virtual peers. They then try to integrate another person in the room after the child is comfortable with their virtual peer. With the introduction of Human-Robot interaction, the desire here is to encourage the child to ‘play’ with the technology. Thru technological methods of interaction (visual display and physical robots) the child may be able to have comfortable interactions and have a feeling of safety. Furthermore, the goal here is to ultimately let the child, rather than a third-party, have control of their interactions.
The goal here is to help the child with ASD, and any gain to their success should be a milestone in their lives and their families. To further the progress and success here I want to bring attention to Kerstin Dautenhahn and her studies in the area Human-Robot interaction. Since 1998, Kerstin has been working on the ‘AURORA project’ which investigates the use of a robotic platform as a tool for therapy use with children with autism. The Aurora project (Autonomous Robotic Platform as a Remedial Tool for Children with Autism) was started to investigate the use of a robotic platform to aid the children in therapy, mainly in the areas of social interaction and communication. The thought here is that a robot will allow the child to interact in an unrestrained manner. They used a wheeled robotic platform, thinking this is the most familiar and reassuring visual for children since it has similarities with television. Similar settings here will allow the child to be more relaxed. A long-term goal of the Aurora project is to help the educators learn how to interact with the children. The short-term goal – ultimately is for the children to be able to experiment and interact with the robot so we can gauge the response this platform elicits from the kids. Studies like this have allowed the researcher to come to realize that children are comfortable interacting with the robots. This is the basis for a great foundation for further work to be done to develop the robot as a research therapy device. The Aurora project grew from a robot that was mainly a wheeled robot on a platform to a more life-like agent. Kerstin Dautenhahn reports in her proceedings in the 3rd Cognitive Technology Conference CT’99, August, San Francisco, that robots may or may not necessarily have to look like a human. She goes on to argue, that we may not have to make the robot look so human like to be effective in working with children with ASD. The interaction with the human-robot has many benefits here. They use the robot as a remedial toy, this takes up the challenge of bridging the gap between the variety and unpredictability of human social behavior and predictability of the repetitive behavior in which children with ASD prefer, and which can be performed by the mobile robots. The study for a cure or remedy for autism is not new. During the 50s and 60s, a Freudian theory for autism blamed the parents lack of attention and warmth shown to the children. Fortunately this theory has been dismissed along with many other misconceptions. Focusing on what we can do, what is positive is the approach she uses here. The language disorders of children with ASD are widely understood as having cognitive, social and linguistic deficits.
Behavioral approaches use a conditioning technique in structured therapy that would begin with teaching a child to sit in a chair for a specific length of time and make eye contact on command, to imitate motor behaviors of the trainer. This extends to vocal, verbal sounds and words. If progression is made, the child may be able to communicate when asked, what is this, with a ‘this is a cup’. However, this behavior intervention showed little development towards what we do in everyday communication. The robot used in Aurora is used similarly in the turn taking approach of interaction, but the children are free to move around. The main teaching objective is to encourage the child to ‘ask’ in order to help, assistance, food, etc. The interactions with the robot address issues such as; gaining the attention span during interaction with the robot, as compared with other subjects; robot-child eye contact, which can be read by the robot sensors on the front of the robot; a pro-active behavior is given towards the robot to elicit certain behavior and interaction; verbal cues, turn-taking and imitative interaction games and an increase in play and language skills. The success of the Aurora project depends on careful design and investigation of a robot as a social mediator that can help the children with autism get used to different styles of interaction, which are typical for human beings. We can also gain insight from this project in general issues of human-robot interaction. This application for example can show us how the interaction can be exploited in successful social interactions. Many children enjoy interacting with the robot and many efforts were being made to enhance the behaviors that the robot can exhibit. This includes physical and speech recognition as well as a developed vision system will enhance the sensory capabilities of the robot. The vision system is necessary again to access information on the location and movements of the child. It is hoped to develop a robot to become a social buffer for the child, much like a seeing-eye dog helps the blind person.
The humanoid robot can help in many ways. A humanoid body is desirable for face to face communication with another human; also to study hand-eye control, imitation; using them as an interactive agent where humans expect and actually enjoy a natural interface, giving natural gestures in language, eye contact, allowing the robot to explain and express its actions thru facial expressions and story telling. A humanoid robot can make things more interesting for people with physical or learning disabilities who don’t have specific impairments of imagination or social skills.
There is a robot that was developed in 2006 by the Adaptive Systems Research Group at the University of Hertfordshire. They named their beloved child-sized humanoid robot KASPAR (Kinesics And Synchronization in Personal Assistant Robotics). Little KASPAR is used to study human-robot interaction as part of their RobotCub Project. The robot may also be used for developmental studies and interaction games. KASPAR is one of many robots used in the IROMEC project, which shows that an important role of play is beneficial in the study of ASD. The IROMEC projects targets children who are prevented from playing, from either a cognitive, development or physical impairment. It investigates how robotic toys can help discover the range of play, from either solitary to social and cooperative play. They are not looking to have a real life-like robot but one that offers optimal realism. KASPAR has 8 degrees of freedom in his head and neck and 6 degrees of movement in his hands and arms. The face is a silicon mask supported on an aluminum frame. Additionally, it has 2 DOF (drawn on display) eyes fitted with video cameras and his mouth can open and smile. Within the IROMEC research, they will conduct research into how robotic toys can be tailored in becoming social mediators, that allow children with disabilities to play and discover the range of play styles from solitary to social and cooperative play. This will help to prevent dependency and isolation, and will help to develop the potential of new skills learned by robot-supported play. This will help enhance quality of life, social inclusion and learning and therapy. Their goal is to use him as an open-platform for cognitive development research. KASPAR is used in the AURORA project as well.
According to Reeves and Nass (1996) humans will treat computers and media in general as people. The ‘media equation’ is particularly relevant for robots whose appearance stresses realism. Although robots are not part of our daily life like computers are, they do have the power to change our attitude, behavior, motivations and worldview. The ‘media equation’ means to treat as ‘real life’. Do we respond to the media as if it were human? If we ignore the power of outside influences, does it make us more susceptible to them? Reeves and Nass say that media makes us full participants in our own social and natural world. Let us hope that this proves correct for the research with human-robot interaction and children with ASD. It does seem like we have come full circle from the 1920’s development of the PLANETBOT. There are robots being used in operating rooms for surgery even today. There is much to be discovered and undiscovered in this world.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Foresight (!), a little baggage, and augmenting our capacity to deal with lots of information

There is a concept known as the Akashic record, a record of all things that were and are and, by some definitions, are to be. Thought to be Hindi in origin, the notion suggests a repository of all knowledge, whether known or unknown, that takes up no space per se (the akasha is an alternate dimension) but may be accessed at will, by the initiated, to reveal all things. No, it wasn’t in our readings for today, which are of a more scientific variety. This record is no more real than Aladdin’s lamp; it is a myth, an idea revised (and expanded in various ways that changed its original meaning) for English speakers in the 19th century. As a concept, it served to provide a source of authority to mystics who made claims without material substantiation. The Western tradition ascribes omniscience to God, Divine revelation was quite credible as a source at more times in history than it wasn’t, and this is simply another variation on that theme. Joan of Arc claimed she heard St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret; certain theosophists claimed the ability to tap into the akasha or to know someone who could. Nothing to do with science. As a myth, though, it tells us something about human needs and desires. We have dreamed of knowing everything, of being able to handle vast quantities of information, over and over again as a means to augment ourselves, to reach beyond limits.

Our readings focus on manifestations of this same aspiration.


We begin with Dr. Vannevar Bush’s 1945 essay in which calls for "a new relationship between thinking man and the sum of our knowledge." Bush’s optimism and positive outlook – even in the war and the most terrible weapons ever devised, he finds something to celebrate: evidence of the power of collaboration in a common cause – are contagious. His is not an analysis of science as a double-edged sword, is rather a celebration of what it has brought us (Lasting benefits. Control over the environment, better food, better clothing, shelter, greater security, release from bondage; long life span, better health, greater freedom from disease, the promise of improved mental health) and what it will bring us in the future. His reasoning grants him incredible foresight, and he suggests the possibility of all sorts of things: swifter communication, information storage devices, optical scanning, “an age of cheap complex devices of great reliability”, always carried devices that can take photos (as so many cellular phones do today, though he envisioned them as glasses – maybe that is to come), Polaroid-style cameras and digital cameras that allow the photographer to instantly view the photo, voice recognition systems, search engines, new systems of indexing, supercomputers, the use of time stamps, voice recording, and video records, spreadsheets, centralized electronic billing systems, miniaturization and portability of data, personal computers, personal digital assistants, new forms of the encyclopedia (like Wikipedia), user annotated records, data aggregators, even the internet itself. He saw even further, suggesting the possibility of interfacing systems with our nervous systems.

All these things, he suggests, can be harnessed to improve ourselves, to reduce the time from problem to solution, to advance our knowledge and understanding ever more quickly. We can and should, he advocates, turn our peacetime efforts in this direction, for the betterment of scientists and of all humankind.

He is, of course, grounded in his time despite his prescience. Acutely aware of how things work, he never surrenders to magical ‘someone will discover something new that allows this’ thinking so common in science fiction (‘warp drive’ thinking), and that limits his predictions. His Memex, for example, the computer-like device for keeping a record and making connections between concepts, is the size of a desk rather than a small box on top of it. Though charming, this groundedness and his optimism are his vulnerabilities. Not a postmodernist at all, he doesn’t stop to think that perhaps in constantly documenting moments (photographically or in other ways) or the connections we form between ideas we might lose something of that moment or obscure what we were trying to find in the first place. Untempered acceptance of innovative technology as good would soon lead to the age of “DDT is good for me!” and thalidomide babies. He is, however, not a tyrant, and his vision is a kindly and noble one, and inspirational.

D. C. ENGLEBART – 1962

Englebart quotes V. Bush extensively. His paper on “human augmentation” documents a project to improve “the intellectual effectiveness of the individual human being.” It realistically anticipates, proposes, and documents the use of new tools and systems to accomplish more work and draw on more information by means that are faster. Again, he is bound to his time when it comes to things like storage media and also in his attitudes.

He uses “an aborigine” as an example of a person who cannot “grapple directly with the sort of complex situation in which we seek to give him help.” Inherent in Englebart’s argument is the tenant that “our background of indirect knowledge and procedure” is good, represents an augmentation, and other things, views, ways of being are lesser and need fixing. (What if this individual does not wish to drive a car through traffic? It’s dangerous, after all.) “Our culture has evolved means for us to organize the little things we can do with our basic capabilities so that we can derive comprehension from truly complex situations, and accomplish the processes of deriving and implementing problem solutions” he writes, and a critic might point out that we seem to have invented as many problems as we have solutions, still don't really seem to get everything done or know what's going on. A critic might counter that our culture has evolved as a means for us to get what we want from others whether they wish to offer it or not, whether we know what we are doing or not.

By the time we get to “source of intelligence” hierarchies on p. 13, I was a little concerned about what might happen if we all just went along with Englebart. Essentially, in the name of efficiency, someone would decide in advance for us what information sources we should trust and then we would receive information primarily from those sources and have to reject those in order to get to others, presuming alternative sources even make it into the system (a cynic might say 'ah, graduate school' but I don't believe it's so or should be so). The attribution of intelligence to synergism, many things (cells in the human brain, lines of code in a program) working together is all well and good, but collective action does not necessarily imply centralization of power and authority. It is possible that the implications of “human augmentation” would be human control, a system that, in the name of advancing science, removed the individual from the process of reasoning and evaluating information, something that is counter to what Bush suggested (he insisted there be a record, but allows individual users to form their own “trails”, connections between ideas, and to access all available knowledge without restriction – Englebart criticizes this as “spending so much time in lower level processes of manipulation” on p. 39). The “augmented human” might be better at following orders faster, and achieving desired results sooner, but it might cost his or her individuality and freedom. Something which, incidentally, an experiment that involves writing with a pencil tied to a brick does nothing whatsoever to justify.

“Well designed symbol structures” (30) could restrict more than they facilitate. The breaking down of knowledge into kernels may unnecessary split concepts that are related – who will be drawing the lines? (On p. 45, there is the suggestion of self-altering code and computers, so, maybe, the computers will tell us…) The coordinate-indexing descriptors, which are not well described, may be far worse than the Dewey decimal system. What he’s suggesting does represent a step in the direction of accepting information as belonging to certain categories rather than judging for oneself (is this a liberal idea? Or a conservative one?) “Master code structure” – yikes – for cognition? Englebart admits that "developing the conceptual structure represents a sweeping synthesis job full of personal constructs from smatterings picked up in many places" (49), and he hopes for something that will replace this. Replace personal experience? Grant an uniform one in place of many diverse ones? Are you sure you want this augmentation?

It would, however, allow us to deal with vast quantities of information. The description of how that would look (“a natural position” my eye!) is admittedly reminiscent of some computing setups today (multi-screen, multi-interface). It seems like a leap to go from word processing and mathematical computation are augmented by computers to let’s let them frame all of our logic from now on, but he’s trying to escape the “90% maintenance / 10% progress” paradigm.


After Englebart, I was primed to dispute whatever these next two were selling, that there will soon be “more effective communication via machine than face-to-face” but I settled down and had to admit that it’s quite likely so. I certainly prefer to have an online syllabus with hyperlinks to resources than to just have the professor tell me verbally what he expects me to read. The example of the technical project meeting “face to face through a computer” is attractive, and does represent more or less what happens when everything is working properly for all parties. The requirement that individual models be synchronized ("cooperative modeling", p. 22) for communication sounds a bit sinister, but it’s a much gentler suggestion than that in the earlier paper.

Also the cartoons are fun. On page 26, though, it's unclear whether the man's rather poor drawing, which is improved by transmission via the computer soas to influence the woman, is actually good for her. Is she going to fall in love with a computer generated fantasy “artist” and wind up with an accountant who can barely draw? Is there the suggestion that it is his idea -- of the heart with their initials in it, which doesn't seem very original or personal, but whatever – is what catches her fancy and that its transformation via technology is irrelevant to the bond they form as a result? I also noticed that only men were at the important meeting, and this women is acted upon rather than acting. Hmm.

Again, this is a prescient source. To handle the vast quantities of information, they suggest a system of nodes. While these operate with a little more human-like logic than the internet actually does today, it is a very nice representation of an information network. They predict ‘flame wars’ without using the word, and have a pretty clear idea of what interactive communities will be like. All this in 1968.

Is it okay, do you think, for computers to "know who is prestigious in your eyes and buffer from a demanding world"? The fact that spam is an evil notwithstanding? Are you sure this is what you want?

MYERS – 1998

Brad Myers brings us much closer to the present, and his source list is a who’s who of important names in HCI.

Myers is looking backward, for the most part, and presents us with the ways that the problem of dealing with massive quantities of information has been, if not solved, greatly ameliorated.

In the forward looking section, his suggestions re: what's next are: gesture recognition; multimedia; virtual and augmented reality; three dimensionality; computer assisted cooperative work; natural language and speech. We have since seen the amazing growth of computer assisted cooperative work (“Web 2.0”), and these others do exist today, though they’re not perfected or in widespread use (except for multimedia), so I can ascribe prescience to him as well.


Our readings for today represent a history of the exploration of the idea of handling a lot of information in improved ways. We have been moving in the directions suggested by these theorists. Though creatures of their times, they each predict the future accurately in many ways.

I am personally grateful for much of that progress, enjoy the ability to manipulate images, acquire information, work with math I wouldn’t be able to otherwise, and so on, but I do encourage you to think about the assumptions implicit in some of these ideas. I don’t believe “Google is making us stupid” at all but I think that the most efficient path to solutions often lies in improved critical thinking, in examining the nuts and bolts of a problem, and in viewing things from multiple perspectives (“thinking outside the box”). Systems than allege to reduce work by removing the user from the analysis of information quality entirely are not any more reliable, in my view, than trusting someone who claims to read the Akashic record would be.

Past, Present and Future

I didn't realize until re-reading just now how much the tone of this essay is inspired by the hopeful, call-to-action nature of Bush's "As We May Think." I hope it isn't too Pollyana for you all.

In reading Vannevar Bush's "As We May Think," I was reminded of the experience that I had this summer while visiting Epcot Center at DisneyWorld for the first time. Though I enjoyed the many rides and attractions that I’d spent my life dreaming of experiencing, my favorite turned out to be, surprisingly, Spaceship Earth.

For those who haven’t had the opportunity to go to Epcot, Spaceship Earth is the giant golf ball-looking structure that is often used in promotional materials for Disney. Inside runs a slow-moving ride featuring animatronics that is, essentially, a tribute to the history of human communication and the technical innovations that have propelled our cultural evolution, from our ancestors who first developed language to facilitate hunting mammoth, to cave paintings, to illuminated manuscripts, to newspapers and radio, to an animatronic young Steve Wozniak (I think it was Steve) tinkering with a computer in his garage.

I wound up riding Spaceship Earth three times (while others in my party ran off to the more exciting attractions), because I enjoyed seeing the emphasis that was placed on the relationship between cultural development and communication (also because I’d developed a sincere fascination for animatronics). Moreso, I think, than other areas of advancement -- transportation, weaponry, medicine -- improving means of communication allows us to traverse cultural boundaries, to impart information to both our peers and our progeny, and to work together to dream up the innovations that will enable our next giant leap into the future.

Bush writes his essay as his generation prepares for such a leap. Some things he writes of in his essay -- such as the availability of specific records to professionals working in fields such as law, medicine and chemistry -- have become an important part of modern society, while others -- the potential for microphotography in saving and transmitting large documents -- have been made a quaint antiquity by the emergence of ubiquitous digital technologies. How could Bush have predicted that, for instance, our data storage devices would go from this (first IBM hard drive, 5 megabytes):

First IBM Hard Drive

To this (Sandisk USB Drive, 4 gigabytes):

Sandisk USB Drive the span of only 60 years?

Another interesting question arises when we consider the impetus for this essay: Bush is writing at the end of the Second World War, to encourage scientists to continue to work together in peace as they have in wartime. What part have wars played in the advancement of communication technologies? Is it worth considering, in a time when many are pushing to limit the military-industrial complex, that significant cultural shifts have occured because of war?

This question is reinforced by the fact D.C. Engelbart is writing for the United States Air Force when citing Bush's essay in "Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework." For Engelbart, the most noteworthy part of Bush's work was the concept of the Memex, which seems a precursor to our current notions of hypertext. Engelbart suggests that Bush's notion of a linear trail of study could be augmented with ideas of associative linking and trail sharing that make the Memex seem even more like our modern internet system. For these two men, writing twenty years apart, the potential vision was limited by available technology -- the concepts are grand, but when the reader reaches sections on implementation and lengthy descriptions of punch cards, the ideas seem to lose a little of their luster.

Six years later, Licklider and Taylor start their "The Computer as a Communication Device" with what they call a, "Rather startling thing to say": "In a few years, men will be able to communicate more effectively through a machine than face to face" (21). In 40 years, I would contend that their predictions have come true. With the omni-presence of terms like, "social networking," and the addition of email (and it seems, text-messaging) to our list of basic necessities, we are becoming more and more fixed on technological buffers even when it comes to just making social connections with others. In our classroom on Tuesday night, our peers will have their laptops on and opened, augmenting the lecture with their own additional real-time research, just as Licklider and Taylor predicted:
A future version of this system will make it possible for each participant, on his own TV screen, to thumb through the speaker's files as the speaker talks -- and thus check out incidental questions without interrupting the presentation for substantiation. (25)

In Brad Myers' "A Brief History of Human-Computer Interaction Technology," we're reminded that the interactions taking place aren't just triggered by mice (mouses?) and keyboards -- we must also consider pens and tablets, joysticks, gesture tools and virtual reality inputs. And this was just the list in 1998. Since then, we have also added the stylus, the phone-based keyboard, a number of adaptive technologies, and who knows what our future holds for us?

...Ah, the interesting concept. Though this collection of essays were assigned under the topic, "History in Perspective," the perspective chosen by many of these writers was to look forward. In a time before many of our parents were born, Bush was issuing a call to his fellow scientists to utilize the computer, still in early stages of development and use, to organize information in ways that would impact the daily lives of average people. His ideas created the framework for the world we now inhabit.

All of the authors were also careful to emphasize the "human" aspect of human-computer interaction. Computers should improve our methods of communication, not supplant them completely. Though Licklider and Taylor predict a world in which we use computer technologies to assist communication, the emphasis is on facilitation.

Pink Floyd, on the other hand, predicted a world in which our dependence on technology makes us merely cogs in the mechanized system: "Welcome to the machine." Though some might say we're already on our way, I would hope that as theorists and designers of our future, that we too can emphasize the human aspects of HCI. Because...really, who wants to live in a future predicted by Pink Floyd? I'd rather live in one envisaged by Bush: "There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things" (7).

We will always have work to do. We will always have new futures to look forward to creating. We will always find new ways of facilitating the ability of people to communicate with other people. And someday, when Spaceship Earth is overhauled to include a new century's worth of technological advancement, perhaps it will be our work that is featured there in the narrative of humanity. Isn't that an encouraging thought?