What the Dormouse Said

June 16, 2021Last updated June 16, 2021

This book played a role in warming up my brain to accept a life change toward technology. It reads like a rolodex at times, a little over-researched, but was nonetheless helpful.

Let me share with you my favorite section. Doug Engelbart, responsible more than perhaps any other person for the birth of the personal computer, drops acid at a California guru's house during an engineering R&D experiment. The idea was to see if the engineers came up with breakthrough ideas on their projects via LSD.

Engelbart does not. He imagines a toy that floats in the toilet and gives little boys a target to aim at when they pee.

From the SRI group, the first to try LSD was Hew Crane, who was followed by a number of other scientists from the research lab, including Engelbart and Bill English. It is easy to understand why Engelbart would find the idea of enhancing creativity with psychedelic drugs so intriguing. After all, the aims of the early LSD community closely paralleled his own passionate quest to augment human intelligence. ... The results of Engelbart's own psychedelic drug experience, however, proved disappointing... Engelbart's contribution to the creativity session was a toy he conceived under the influence of LSD. He called it a "tinkle toy," and it was a little waterwheel that would float in a toilet bowl and spin when water (or urine) was run over it. It would serve as a potty-training teaching aid for a little boy, offering him an incentive to pee in the toilet.

There's a useful metaphor here, but I'm not quite sure what it is.