from the Archives
Technology for collaboration
and social transformation
It is in 1966 that I thought about computers for the first time. Bud Gilmore [link] took me to a GE time share facility that used an IBM 360-40 mainframe, which was the state-of the-art at that time, and explained the basics to me. I immediately started thinking about I would use computers to augment my design-build work. After some thought I went to IBM with some ideas to create a bidding program for the work that I was doing in swimming pools [link]. I was told that what I wanted to do was very complex and would take hundreds of thousands of dollars of programming at best and would require the services of a best machine available. I devised a “formula” on my own that I could do in my head based on a few factors on the contract form [link] that I had devised and found that it gave us a reliable price to one to three percent across the entire range of pools that we built.This is what we used. I did not know that I had written my first algorithm. It was 1984 when I found out what an algorithm was. The experience did teach me that the power a computer has is one factor; the clarity of thought, experience of the application and how it was used it the other and greater factor. I have never forgotten this. To this day, I am not interested in what COMPUTERS can do. I am interested in what very smart people and very smart computers (and networks of people and computes) can do when they augment each other.
It was between 1966 and 1970 that I studied science and technology under Bud’s tutelage. He had a couple of instruments he was designing at that time (a power supply and a 3d dental x ray reader) and I did the design of the housings, cases , packaging and presentation materials [link]. With great patience he took me through the engineering aspects of the projects and I learned some of the rudiments of the optics and electronics involved. As part of my science and technology studies, I applied my growing awareness of cybernetics: to a thought experiment: “how did the human mind work and how could these principles be applied to the construction and use of intelligent machines?” I developed a model that accounted for all of the observed behavior that I was aware of and that Bud could get me to understand. The model has turned out to be reasonably accurate to this day and was predictive of several discoveries of the 70s [link], 80s [link], and 90s [link]. It became the basis of a good part of the technical aspects of the MG Taylor Patent issued in 2000 [link] and other work in patent pending today. Also during this period I applied this thinking to the creation of the rules (algorithms) of my Swimming Pool Method [link]. This was my first disciplined design work in the creation of a complex technical-economic-social system and the genesis of the ValueWeb concept [link]. All the work we do today has its technological roots and a great deal of its philosophical foundations in my explorations of the 60s, which like everything I have done, is a real-time combination of theory, applied design of real projects and application to specific business ventures. This is the 3 Cat Model [link]; the practice of organic architecture [link]; and, today what is sometimes referred to a “biomicricky” [link]. It is necessary to keep this in mind if you are to understand what the CyberCon concept documented in the writing below actually means and implies, and, if you are to truly understand any aspect of my work, for that matter [link].
During the Renascence years [link], Kansas City, my studies of cybernetics and systems theory continued. I broadened my application of this theoretical work beyond design, architecture and construction to the design of social tools and systems. At the core of all my work with the Renascence project was cybernetics and system theory and also my growing MODEL of “what is an intelligent system?” The Master Planning Process [link] came out of this as did the idea of environments becoming capable of human augmentation (my best description of this to date is the Xanadu Project [link]). I had yet, in my Renascence years, to be aware of Vaneevar Bush [link], Alan Kay [link], Doug Engalbart [link] and the others who set the foundation for and were developing, a generation ago, what today is knowledge augmentation, personal computing and social networking. I ran into Ted Nelson’s [link] Computer Lib just as I was establishing, in my own work, the foundation of network architecture forming the architectural basis of virtually all future organizations. The idea of HyperText [link] struck me to the core. I had long been hooked on the idea that all knowledge should be connected to all knowledge and Nelson’s work was my first introduction to how computers could accomplish this task. Frank Lloyd Wright said that if someone else had not invented the corner window - he would have [link]. Likewise, I claim if someone else had not invented hypertext, I would have. As technologically primitive this web site is, the extensive use of links (which are sadly still only one way) is demonstration of my belief in the quality and necessity of hyperlinks. I sometimes get complaints that it is impossible to ever have the same experience twice on this site and my answer is yes! Yes! It is not what I write here that is important to me - it is what you think as a result of reading this and what you do as a result. You are the subject. My experiences documented here are, I hope, a catalyst. The articles are linear; the link to link to link trail is mind-like. With powerful protocols, appropriately computer augmented networks populated by thousands of knowledge-workers, all backed with an Armature that is a memory system [link], and what will emerge is GroupGenius [link]. We know this because we can now do it in a f2f event in a properly outfitted and facilitated NavCenter. The future is a matter of technology improvement and scaling.
In my 1974 to 1979 ReDesigning the Future Courses, I undertook to explain how I saw “computing” as a symbiotic tool of human creativity in the support of individuals as well as networks of individuals and groups. This was later written down in the 1979 draft of (the unpublished) Designing Creative Futures [link], an extract of which is presented below.

Designing Creative Futures
by Matt Taylor and Richard Goering
Draft - 1979

page 17:

Communication is a two-way process. Communication includes message and feedback/response. We live in a world of electronic information, but our current informational networks are almost invariably one-way. Newspapers, radio, and television blast us with data and subliminal stimulation. Teachers cram facts into children’s heads. Universities and research institutions announce their discoveries to the public. Governments inform citizens of their orders. No wonder people are apathetic and uninvolved in the world.

Computer technology is changing all this, and making information exchange into a two-way process on a global level. Computer video terminals, for example, permit direct communication and feedback between teacher and student, professional and client, and information center and researcher. Although most computer terminals are now located in large businesses and institutions, the rapidly decreasing cost of computer technology will soon allow the widespread use of computer terminals in the home. Computer terminals a decade from now will be as commonplace as television sets today.

Computer terminals are frequently integrated with typewriters to create word processing equipment. A word processor allows the operator to type a document, make corrections on the video screen, and instruct the computer to type a clean final draft. Modems, which integrate computers and telephones, are used to connect computer terminals with large data banks, and also to connect terminals a continent away with one another. It s now possible to type a document into a word processor, and order a terminal 3,000 miles away to type out the same material instantaneously. This technology will be wide spread within a few years.

Computer terminals, word processors, and modems will bring work and education directly into the home. This will open to you many work and lifestyle options. You could live in a geodesic dome in the Canadian wilderness and “work” in Washington D.C. Your youngest child might be receiving his education from a Montessori school in Nebraska. His older sister could be “attending” an experimental high school in california and taking outside coursework from the University of Maryland. When two-way communication moves across the continent at the speed of light, flashing many more bits per second than the spoken word, distance will become irrelevant... and you might as well be right next door to the institutions you utilize.


page 18:

The two-way communication age will really be underway when 50% of the world’s people have access to CyberCon.

A CyberCon is an integrated device that incorporates what are now the separate components of: television, stereo, telephone, copy machine. mini-computer, micro-film and video camera/storage/playback system, drafting, typing and book-binding equipment, modeling tools, and more. The home CyberCon will be directly connected to the great information processing centers of the world: industry, government, educational institutions, museums, and libraries. The entire knowledge of humankind will be at each individual’s fingertips - at home.

The CyberCon will perform many services in the home. It will answer the phone “intelligently” monitor the infirm and the very young, keep track of dates and schedules, automatically pay bills and balance checking accounts, “read and search” the 24-hour-a-day information flow alerting members of the household to items of special interest, open and shut doors, “run” the house, start meals, play games, and provide entertainment. Its robotic attachments will sew, cut, write, hold, and attach with great precision.

All the components of CyberCon now exist. Depending on frills, a reasonable facsimile could be assembled (with a great deal of skill) for $25,000 to $50,000. In five years the cost will be 1/20th of this.
Soon, these home units will be directly connected to one another via satellite. For the first time in history, people-to-people communication will be possible on a massive scale. Over-provincialism and blind prejudice will diminish, as they always do when communication is made possible. Individuals will interact with factory personnel and computers on a worldwide basis ordering their own goods; professionals will work in their homes with clients a world away. A shop, client, or friend in France might just as well be across the street.

page 20:

CyberCon will cause a breakthrough in world education. It will bring education to the communities of China, the mountain villages of Afghanistan, and the slums of New York City. Today, 50% of the world’s people are literate... and 50% have an “adequate” standard of living. There seems to be a close correlation between the two factors. We know that world population will at least double in 25 years. To raise everyone to an adequate standard of living, education must be quadrupled - and CyberCon via satellite is the fastest way to do that.

Little can be accomplished without communication and educational networks. The Shah of Iran once tried to bring a cup of milk to every child in the country. He has access to American technology, vast wealth, and authoritarian control over his country’s resources. But he could not do it... because the communications and educational networks were not in place. When these systems came into being, their first accomplishment was to drive the Shah out.
CyberCon will greatly simplify and amplify world communication and education. When it does so it will challenge the need for government itself. The purpose of government is to process information, to serve as the “central processing unit” of a society. It is only in recent times that large, centralized government have come into being. Such governments developed as a response to massive amounts of data.
Current Governments process information by giving top-down commands. They do so because widespread people-to-people communication is not available and feedback is inadequate or repressed. But hierarchical governments can only process limited information, and they cannot effectively participate in two-way communication. As such, they impose an early “limit of growth” on society. Our limits of growth come not from diminishing resources, but from the way we organize our society.
CyberCon will weave the world into a communcations net no one can control. It will become a new means for world governance. CyberCon will be the world’s “mailman,” communications facilitator, social organizer, and international, multifacited educational system. It will provide a means for voluntary networks of people to produce, allocate, and distribe goods and services. It will allow direct, personal participation in local and international affairs. CyberCon will not replace government - but it will undermine government’s monopolistic role as the central processing unit of society.
CyberCon will be a tool for social transformation. It will be utilized by networks of writers, artists, philosophers, designers, and builders to change the world.
Throughout history, there have been “invisible colleges” of people working for social change. These informal networks have allowed for direct communication and cooperation among small numbers of individuals working in different fields Freemasonry, an esoteric tradition of the 17th and 18th centuries, was one example of an “invisible college.” The Freemasons became an international fraternity of great minds devoted to democratic ideals. They included among their ranks Newton, Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, francis Bacon, and nearly all the signers of the American Declaration of Independence. Some researchers believe the the Revolution was a Freemason conspiracy.
The CyberCon will be the hardware for the Freemasons of tomorrow. It will be a tool that “ordinary” people with limited funds can use to create incredible transformations. CyberCon will tie together world networks of thinkers, dreamers, and doers, and join them into a powerful creative force for the guidance of Man’s future. No longer will years pass between the evolution, development, and application of new ideas; instead, news of a breakthrough will flash instantly to those who can make the best use of it.
25 years from now, a book such as this could be printed off a CyberCon and updated the day you ask for it. Word processing equipment will save weeks of typing and revising. Personal communications between readers and authors will be possible. The authors of this book are painfully aware of the irony of writing a book about the future with 19th century technology.
I went “on line” in 1978 and have been on line ever since. My first machine was a 20 pound Texas Instruments Smart Terminal with a bubble memory and a built-in thermal paper printer. It cost several thousand dollars. It had a 300 baud rate modem with phone cups that looked like Mickey Mouse ears. A top snapped over the ears, printer and key board and it made up a neat package that could be carried anywhere, would fit under a plane seat, and could be hooked up anywhere there was a conventional phone. Its footprint was a little larger than my 17 inch PowerBook G4 except, of course, it was thicker and heavier. This machine was just a couple of steps away from being the “first” practical portable personal computer and I often wonder what caused the lights to go off at TI. For all of its (by “modern” standards) slowness and primitive elements, it was a very good piece of design and it was reliable and eloquently packaged having a level of style not to be seen again until the recent reincarnation of Steve Jobs at Apple. I connected to the EIS system which was run by Murray Turoff and Starr Roxanne Hiltz from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. They wrote an excellent book called the Network Nation which is still a seminal piece on the subject [link]. I sent many electronic messages to Murray “begging” for more free connect time which he always granted. The EIS system was the best computer conferencing network I have ever been on and has not been materially (from the user standpoint) improved on today. Of course the technology speed and cost of today’s systems are immeasurably better. As a piece of design and social space, however, the EIS system is a benchmark - a remarkable achievement. The EIS system and the TI Smart Terminal facilitated the core function, that of connectivity, of CyberCon. I was using these as I was coauthoring (often remotely) Designing Creative Futures with Richard. My work no matter how “futuristic” and radical has always been experienced-based. This is intrinsic to my personality as well as my method. Designing Creative Futures also included the following three quotes. These were used by me in my Redesigning the Future Course and were subsequently used by Gail and myself in our Workshops and the AND WorkBook. We, as a matter of Fact, still use these quotes - they are that good. A great deal of the technology that was only a dream 25 years ago now exists. As for a view of the future, however, I will take the 70s over most of what is promoted as thinking today.

“Someday, not too far from now, people will ‘ride’ their personal computers with all the excitement that the motorcycle rider feels when he storms down the long tunnel of the night. We will, with computers, explore our mental world with something that shares, amplifies, and defines our experience. In so doing, it will help us define ourselves as human personalities.”

Don Fabun
Dynamics of change



“There is in the world today an ‘invisible college’ of people in many different countries and many different cultures, who have a vision of the nature of the transition through which we are passing and who are determined to devote their lives to contributing towards its successful fulfillment. Membership in this college is consistent with many different philosophical, religious, and political positions. It is a college without a founder and without a president, without buildings and without organization. It founding members might have included a Jesuit like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a humanist like Aldous Huxley, a writer of science fiction like H,G. Wells, and it might even given honorary degrees to Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Pope John XXIII, and even Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy. Its living representatives are a pretty small group of people. I think, however, that it is they who hold the future of the world in their hands or at least in their minds...”

Kenneth E. Boulding
The Meaning of the Twentieth Century
Harper and Row
University Press of America; New Ed edition



“But beyond formal organizational structures there are ‘invisible colleges...’ the loose aggregates of individuals scattered throughout the nation and the world who periodically communicate with one another. They are the sociologists, architects, lawyers, doctors, teachers and others whose avocation is “change’ and how it might be affected... Their communications are via the telephone, the Xerox machine, and the jet. They meet, exchange information, ideas, theories and concepts. Tied neither to time, place, nor position, they operate on many different levels at the same time They are a link between industry and government, between the public and private sectors, between the federal, state and city governments, between governments and neighborhoods, between the money givers and the money receivers, between the theorists and the activists. their value lies both in their access to information from many sources and their rapid dissemination and utilization of that data.”

Leonard J. Dahl
General Systems Theory and Psychiatry


For an excellent bibliography of futures works from this era see the list compiled by Jim Dator at the
Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies
[link] . Most of these books were in the Renascence Library until its breakup in 1980 [link]. Futurist Professor Jim Dator has written about the ins and outs of futurism and what makes it worth while [link]. He also stands firmly on the ground that holds it should be integrated with other studies and made practical by action [link]. I, of course agree with him on both counts. I have never taught futurism in an academic setting. It is the core of my ReBuilding the Future Course and the MG Taylor Method. Anyone who has been a participant in a properly conducted DesignShop has practiced a systematic future thinking-to-action process. My brand of futurism is what I call “push-pull” futurism. It offers credible models based on comprehensive research but is not focused on trying to merely accurately forecast possible future conditions and states. My focus is on offering credible, possible and compelling designs of improved future methods, tools and realities along with access to the environment-tool kits that augment individuals, group, organizations and societies so that they can design a better, sustainable world that accommodates all life and which they prefer. This was the impulse behind Designing Creative Futures and the MG Taylor Corporation, the intention of which, following the writing of the book, to becomes a means of putting the ideas into practice. CyberCon was not conceived as an interesting idea or even, solely, a commercial product but as a necessary tool for bringing about a better future. While many of the aspects of CyberCon exist today the intent is still obscure in the greater society. The PC - and, the network called the World Wide Web- with its attendant e-commerce - is largely used to fiddle while Rome burns. There is a big difference between technological improvement, increased wealth-making capability and real social transformation. The former are fine in themselves but, absent a fundamental change in how we conduct our personal business and the affairs of the planet [link], we are just “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

This piece covers three aspects of CyberCon, the description of it, the network effect (both from the book, above) and a portable (“terminal”) work station version, designed in 1983, based on a maximum push of the technology of that time (illustrated in the masthead graphic from my Notebook notebook). The basic discipline of MG Taylor is to employ the Design, Build, Use (D/B/U) Model over many iterations to achieve rapid prototyping. We have never attempted to build a full CyberCon ourselves from scratch. We have proposed the development of an aspect of the concept in the form of the CyberCon Executive System in 1984. Mention the Tablet PC form factor, the Mac which I use today Describe my 1977 Mac set up. Describe the 1984 CyberCon proposal.

The sketch of the technical system (Domain 5) of a THERE concept of the MG Taylor System and Method shows “windows,” electronic walls, wireless lap top computers and hand held pda devices all linked to each other, other facilities and the network. The are also linked to a CyberCon Workstation that can cooperate with a human “driver” - or function on it own - is “listening” while “watching” and searching in three modes: pattern language recognition: visual patterns and text. This information is taken through the the 10 Step Process while feeding candidate knowledge objects (Agents) to the working teams by algorithms determined by the Taylor Modeling language.

As can be seen from the 1982 diagram the, basic computer form factors on the market today, as well as, windows, hyper-text, real time (and asynchronous) virtual networking multimedia and “publishing” were all anticipated by by this 1982 ketch. So what is the portable CyberCon about?


inset 1976 system



inset 1984 system


To explain this, I have to digress. To me, ALL forms of media are MULTIMEDIA. One of the big mistakes being made today is that pixels are replacing traditional media materials and processes. Every media, language, tool and conceptual framework has limits, biases AND unique qualities that add up to a distinct view of the world. In today’s world we need all these viewpoint and the experience of working in all these modalities. The power of electronic systems is not just their own intrinsic capabilities but in their ability to be a means for integrating all the others into a single work process.
MagicWindow, 1999 - technology-WorkFurniture integration - our first.
What I carry today
Inteneded to do it... the board’s bad advise... How we have and will employ this technology...
How accurate was the CyberCon description in the Designing Creative Futures draft? The language sounds a bit quaint; well... it is 25 years old and this was written for a lay reader at the time. We do not talk about terminals now, but what is your PC when it is surfacing the web? Technically, a smart terminal. Modems do not have to be explained and most people today would tell you they don’t have one - does it matter if it is wireless and automatically logs on? Get beneath the language and look at what was actually described. The description is literal, comprehensive and visionary in the sense that options capacities and uses were described that are just being realized today. Everything described is common today (2005) except the robotic attachments and automated binding equipment. These things are possible I expect they are not seen as necessary given the sophisticated service economy that has grown up in the meantime. For myself, when I make my next hack at a CyberCon configuration, I will do these things for reasons that I believe are important and I will cover below.
How accurate were some of the “claims?”
Where I departed, then and now from the “virtual” concept taken to the extreme... Materiality of the machine; multimedia; what I carry today.
Closing the gap between the promise and the reality is up to us. Everyone of us. Looking ahead over the next few years, what will be possible and how can this technology be used to promote personal self-actualization and planetary transformation? These are two important questions that address real issues on two different levels of recursion (individual and system Earth) each necessary to the other but now seen (as a so-called “practical” issue) as competing. This present, wide-scale bifurcation - the soul body dichotomy writ large - is destructive. It becomes ever more destructive as we become ever more powerful. We, as a society, are developing the power of gods with the mentality of children - except that children are actually far more level headed than this ubiquitous “adult” behavior.
The difference between improvement and transformation, which I mentioned earlier, is the subject with which I will finish this piece. There were many of us who looked into the future 30 years ago, saw danger, tremendous opportunities, new tools and suggested that a far better world was within our reach. At MG Taylor, we have been able to demonstrate that it is possible to accomplish the significant organizational transformations necessary to solve complex, systemic problems [link]. On the technological level, many of the tools developed much as we thought they would. On the social level many of the problems manifested as predicted. The doom and gloom scenarios have largely not come to past but I claim that is mostly because human society has improved - at least that much - and that human invention has kept up with these challenges (but not without risky trade-offs), not because the issues were totally misstated. All this said, there is more reason for disappointment than cause for celebration. I would call the last 30 years a best a draw. Most of the systemic problems have not been resolved they have just been avoided by a number of clever trade-offs - the price of which we are yet to pay. Measured against what could have been accomplished in this last generation, the present is extraordinarily disappointing and to me - and degenerate. I believe that future societies will look back at the post WWII period - and the last 25 years in particular - as the greatest waste of an opportunity in the known history of the human race. I am not a pessimist nor do I believe the game is over. I do believe that the future will become increasingly constrained if we continue not to pay attention; or, morally worst, a bright future will become a reality at the expense of a great number of the humans on this planet and a vast number of the other life that now lives on it - both likely will not in that “bright” sanitized, over designed and elite, sterile soap opera that seems to be emerging - a plastic reality show for all, who conform, to enjoy. This may be OK for many but to me it is an unacceptable cop out - the example of a “habit” that will some day do us in and the exercise of an unbelievable level of self-centered arrogance not to mention just plain sloppy design and pitiful engineering.
We have the tools. We have the means. Do we have the vision and the will?
The pieces of CyberCon, as tools in the hand and as a connected system, are in place. The design of CyberCon as an intentional and integrated system is yet to be accomplished - the parts do not sum up to a new and significant whole. The use of the proto CyberCon that we have is marginal at best. This is not the criticize all the varied uses that the www is put to - the all have their value and reflect a fee market. I am saying that the deliberate use of this technology as an augmentation tool to support social transformation in order to create Planet Earth as “a garden enjoyed by all[link] is a marginal effort at best. It is fine to have the games, the social networking, the e-commerce and all the rest. We must understand that we face self-made issues of immense complexity that can overwhelm us or, at the least, unnecessarily harm a great number of people, plant and animal species [link]. These issues will not go away. The are systemic to the configuration [link] of our world; to our structure [link]; to how we have chosen [link] to use the marvelous tools and systems that we built.
It seems to be the nature of things that concurrent with a “problem” coming into being the means arise to solve it. That certainly is our human circumstance. The question always is will we use the means at hand to deal with the situation at hand? When human life was simpler, the answer, if yes, meant that an organization, a culture or an era continued. If the answer was no, it did not. With systemic situations, this is still true. However there is an additional reality: connectivity can actually destroy all or huge parts of a system. Life progresses by a series of transformations [link] - it leaps from plateau to plateau It is possible to fall into the abyss [link].
The word CyberCon is a pun. CYBER is for cybernetics, the science of how systems learn and regulate themselves. It translates from the Greek as “steersmanship.” CON as in “con a ship” which is how, where and the act of actually steering the ship. CyberCon, as an idea and a system, was intended by me to “steer” (facilitate and augment) those who steer (any system) the ship. My basic concern is, of course, the steering of Spaceship Earth [link].
Return To: INDEX
GoTo: Creative Augmentation
GoTo: Creative Habits to Embedded Processes
GoTo: Davos 2005 - IMAGES
GoTo: Experienced Based Education Model
GoTo: Executive Augmentation
GoTo: From the Archives: Information Factory
GoTo: Invention - My work foucs 1975 - 2000
GoTo: Knowledge Management - 10 Step Model
GoTo: Memory - 22 Aspects of the MGT System and Method
GoTo: ReBuilding the Future - Syntopical Reading 500 #1
ReDesigning the Future
GoTo: Remote Presence by MagicWindow
GoTo: Renascence Reports 1977, 1978 - Index
GoTo: Structure Wins
GoTo: Swimming Pool Story
GoTo: THERE - 1982 to HERE
GoTo: ValueWeb Architecture
GoTo: Weak Signals
GoTo: Worthy Problems
GoTo: Xanadu Project
Matt Taylor
July 30, 2005


SolutionBox voice of this document:



posted: July 30, 2005

revised: September 9, 2005
• • •
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(note: this document is about 95% finished)

Copyright© Matt Taylor 1979, 1983, 2005

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