4 ways to augment thought

In Augmenting the Human Intellect, Doug Engelbart identifies 4 places where thinking can be augmented:

  1. Artifacts — tools for manipulating materials and symbols.
  2. Language — symbols we assign to concepts, allowing us to manipulate concepts at higher levels.
  3. Methodology — procedures used in problem-solving.
  4. Training — conditioning needed to practice 1, 2, and 3.

The system we wish to improve can thus be visualized as comprising a trained human being, together with their artifacts, language, and methodology.

Augmenting the Human Intellect
Doug Engelbart, 1962


Engelbart invented the mouse, and was the ringleader behind the Mother of All Demos. His lifework was dedicated to bootstrapping human thought, guided by the insight that our tools define how we may think — see brick pencil.