We’ve come a long way from the 80s and the devices that so many of us started our journey as programmers Charles Miller notes in “Johnny and Jenny Can Code”:
Today, if you’re a teenager with a Mac (insert some other platform into this paragraph if you object to Apple on moral or financial grounds), you can download for free the same tools that professional developers use to write Mac, iPhone and iPad applications. You can read countless free tutorials on how to use them, download reams of sample code for free, and ask for help on forums full of people who may never know you’re a precocious kid.
In 1968 Douglas C. Engelbart, along with a team of 17 researchers at Stanford, in a 90 minute taped demonstration, showed us what was then the future – which is now the present (and soon to be the past?) – hypertext, gui based interaction, online collaboration including email, and more.
Stanford has a terrific page on the demo, including video clips of it broken down by time and topic, and a single clip of the whole thing. If you’ve never seen this before, take the time, scroll to the bottom of this, and watch beginning to end. It’s not called “The Mother of all Demos” for nothing.
I’ve watched this a few times over the years and I keep coming back to it and being blown away. How far have we gone? How far have we not? There has been much added to the mix these past ten years, but it was a long way from there to here.
I started to pull together some choice quotes from Bruce Sterling, answering questions about the “State of the World 2010” at the WELL, but realized I’d be quoting far too much. You are better off reading the whole thing yourself. Enjoy.
It’s not that print’s a medium, and the web’s a medium, and you get to migrate between media. The Web is a metamedium that turns everything it grips into network-culture.
*So it’s easy to see that mags are in for it. What’s a little harder is looking at the hollow shell of your once-favorite antique shop and realizing that’s all about eBay. “Gee, I’m on the web all the time now… time for a stroll, it’s a sunny day… Gosh, my neighborhood’s full of spooky holes.” Gothic High-Tech.
My 6th grade teacher, Mr. Crell, had a yearly tradition where he’d produce a video, by his students, for the entire school. A play or short story would be chosen that his class would act out and he would direct. My class got the educational experience of putting together a production of a Twilight Zone episode titled “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street”.
After watching the original, we had a discussion over some of its themes, how they might apply in our lives, and they reflected on our country’s history. The take away was that fear and paranoia were dangerous, and could be used to manipulate us. I had the honor of playing Rod Serling. Honestly, I probably got the part because I didn’t want to be on camera all that much, and I spoke very clear and deliberate back then, in an effort to overcome a speech impediment.
Like Pax it was a small pleasure hearing it referenced in one of Keith Olbermann’s commentaries last week. This one, particularly impassioned, having to do with 9/11’s fifth anniversary. It fit well. Sadly.
If you haven’t watched yet, well just take a few minutes.