The Electronic Design Notebook: Performing Medium and Processing Medium

Fred Lakin, Performing Graphics Co.

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University December 4, 1991


The traditional Engineer's Notebook is a volume of bound paper pages. This system is still the medium of choice for a mechanical engineer during the conceptual phase of design. In making this choice, the designer is taking a *performer's view*, choosing freedom and agility in the initial making of drawings over processing power later on. During conceptualization the designer is functioning in part as a image performer, and her instrument must be agile or the performance will be cramped and ideas lost. Computer Aided Design systems, on the other hand, offer *processing power* --- the ability to do something with the drawings in addition to just making them. Unfortunately CAD systems have often neglected agility in order to achieve processing power. Described in this talk is vmacs, a prototype *Electronic Design Notebook* which combines the capabilities of performing medium and processing medium.


Fred Lakin works with the Performing Graphics Company in Palo Alto. At the Center for Design Research at Stanford, he extended the vmacs Electronic Design Notebook system to better generate and conserve particular kinds of design knowledge. Lakin also built a visual cognitive prosthesis at the Palo Alto VA Hospital, and did an implementation of the VennLISP visual programming language at the Stanford AI lab. Lakin received his MFA in Design from Stanford.


Titles and abstracts for all years are available by year and by speaker.

For more information about HCI at Stanford see

Overview Degrees Courses Research Faculty FAQ