Monday, April 27, 2009

David Gelernter: Manifesto

"Everything is up for grabs. Everything will change. There is a magnificent sweep of intellectual landscape right in front of us."

How is that not like saying the internet is a new country? (Where is the Internet headed?) A Web 3.0 Manifesto, The Search Results, The Links, The Inbox, The Stream

David Gelernter

The Second Coming: A Manifesto
We tend not to believe in the next big war or economic swing; we certainly don't believe in the next big software revolution. ..... computing transcends computers. Information travels through a sea of anonymous, interchangeable computers like a breeze through tall grass. A dekstop computer is a scooped-out hole in the beach where information from the Cybersphere wells up like seawater. ...... The real topic in astronomy is the cosmos, not telescopes. The real topic in computing is the Cybersphere and the cyberstructures in it, not the computers we use as telescopes and tuners. ...... Browsers fasten users to remote computers, to "servers" on the internet...... Today's operating systems and browsers are obsolete because people no longer want to be connected to computers — near ones OR remote ones. (They probably never did). They want to be connected to information. In the future, people are connected to cyberbodies; cyberbodies drift in the computational cosmos — also known as the Swarm, the Cybersphere. ........ The future is dense with computers. They will hang around everywhere in lush growths like Spanish moss. They will swarm like locusts. ....... the Net will change radically before it dies .... The Web makes the desktop impotent. .... Desktop power will inevitably drag information out of remote servers onto desktops. ..... The computer mouse ... Like any device that must be moved and placed precisely, it ought to provide tactile feedback; it doesn't. .... The computer screen is the window of your vehicle, the face-shield of your diving-helmet. ...... Under the desktop metaphor, the screen IS the interface — the interface is a square foot or two of glowing colors on a glass panel. In the landscape metaphor, the screen is just a viewing pane. When you look through it, you see the actual interface lying beyond. ...... Computers are fundamentally unlike file cabinets because they can take action. ....... If you have three pet dogs, give them names. If you have 10,000 head of cattle, don't bother. Nowadays the idea of giving a name to every file on your computer is ridiculous. ........ You shouldn't have to put files in directories. The directories should reach out and take them. If a file belongs in six directories, all six should reach out and grab it automatically, simultaneously. ....... A file should be allowed to have no name, one name or many names. Many files should be allowed to share one name. A file should be allowed to be in no directory, one directory, or many directories. Many files should be allowed to share one directory. Of these eight possibilities, only three are legal and the other five are banned — for no good reason. ....... In the beginning, computers dealt mainly in numbers and words. Today they deal mainly with pictures. In a new period now emerging, they will deal mainly with tangible time — time made visible and concrete. ....... Elements stored in a mind do not have names and are not organized into folders; are retrieved not by name or folder but by contents. .... A "lifestream" organizes information not as a file cabinet does but roughly as a mind does. ....... to stop building glorified file cabinets and start building (simplified, abstract) artificial minds ...... Many websites will be organized as lifestreams. ..... The lifestream (or some other system with the same properties) will become the most important information-organizing structure in computing ...... Today's operating systems connect users to computers. In the future we will deal directly with information, in the form of cyberbodies. ...... Your computer's operating system will make as much difference to you as the voltage level of a bit in memory. ..... A lifestream is a landscape you can navigate or fly over at any level. Flying towards the start of the stream is "time travel" into the past. ..... You can walk alongside a lifestream (browsing or searching) or you can jump in and be immersed in information. ...... A well-designed store or public building allows you to size up the whole space from outside, or as soon as you walk in — you see immediately how things are laid out and roughly how large and deep the space is. Today's typical web site is a failure because it is opaque. ....... Movies, TV shows, virtual museums and all sorts of other cultural products from symphonies to baseball games will be stored in lifestreams. ...... Your car, your school, your company and yourself are all one-track vehicles moving forward through time, and they will each leave a stream-shaped cyberbody (like an aircraft's contrail) behind them as they go. These vapor-trails of crystallized experience will represent our first concrete answer to a hard question: what is a company, a university, any sort of ongoing organization or institution, if its staff and customers and owners can all change, its buildings be bulldozed, its site relocated — what's left? What is it? The answer: a lifestream in cyberspace. ........ A software or service company equals the employees plus the company lifestream. .... The company's lifestream is an electronic approximation of the company's memories, its communal mind. .... Software can solve hard problems in two ways: by algorithm or by making connections — by delivering the problem to exactly the right human problem-solver. The second technique is just as powerful as the first, but so far we have ignored it. ...... Lifestreams and microcosms are the two most important cyberbody types; they relate to each other as a single musical line relates to a single chord. The stream is a "moment in space," the microcosm a moment in time. ..... We'll know the system is working when a butterfly wanders into the in-box and (a few wingbeats later) flutters out — and in that brief interval the system has transcribed the creature's appearance and analyzed its way of moving, and the real butterfly leaves a shadow-butterfly behind. Some time soon afterward you'll be examining some tedious electronic document and a cyber-butterfly will appear at the bottom left corner of your screen (maybe a Hamearis lucina) and pause there, briefly hiding the text (and showing its neatly-folded rusty-chocolate wings like Victorian paisley, with orange eyespots) — and moments later will have crossed the screen and be gone. ....... If you have plenty of money, the best consequence (so they say) is that you no longer need to think about money. In the future we will have plenty of technology — and the best consequence will be that we will no longer have to think about technology. ..... We will return with gratitude and relief to the topics that actually count.
Web 5.0: Face Time
Fractals: Apple, Windows 95, Netscape, Google, Facebook, Twitter

This manifesto is mind-blowing. Blew my mind.

I came to the David Gelernter name earlier today by way of Outlook: Cloudy: Floating up into the cybersphere.

I Get Twitter

David Gelernter is my kind of guy: he is a big picture person. Weird first time I am hearing of him.

The ClueTrain Manifesto

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