About the Name

Statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox at Trees of Mystery in Klamath, California. Photo by Chris Dent.

“Blue Oxen” is a reference to Babe the Blue Ox, the trusty companion of the American folk legend Paul Bunyan. The name is an homage to computer pioneer, Doug Engelbart, whose vision for humanity and whose philosophy of bootstrapping collective intelligence have strongly influenced our own philosophy and mission.

Doug, who serves on our Advisory Board, uses the term “bootstrapping” to describe what he believes is the best strategy for solving the world’s most complex and urgent problems: Augmenting humanity’s collective ability to think. He first came across the term “bootstrapping” in his youth, in a story where Paul Bunyan lifted himself by his bootstraps to peer over the forest.

Babe the Blue Ox was the companion of this legendary bootstrapper. Like Bunyan, Babe was strong, persistent, and had a great heart. As a team, the two achieved great things. While both Bunyan and Babe were independent thinkers and clearly stood out in a crowd, they exemplified what collaboration, great vision, and an emphasis on helping humanity could accomplish. These are the principles on which we founded Blue Oxen Associates.