Today at the makerspace we were discussing The Things We Lost W/R/T the development of computing.

We talked about the Cannon Cat, we talked about Hypercard, we talked about the ST and the Amiga.

One topic that came up towards the tail end of the discussion that is near and dear to me is Sugar, the DE designed along side the OLPC project.

It was a radically different approach to computing, and could have been a strong step towards a more Humane future for computers.

But this is a discussion of what we lost, it wasn't a step towards a more Human future for computers. It was nothing more than a broken branch.

Open source software, as it exists today, is 0ften chasing the same dead ends that proprietary software chases.

It's so often Exactly what the proprietary version does, but better, or worse, or just The Same.

We're so often constrained by the same vision that drives proprietary software.


But every once in a while some piece of open source software or some piece of proprietary software will actually manage to do something Unique, and push it's area forward.

Then everyone rushes to copy it, and everything is the same again.

Different is good.

Sugar was good.

Gemini, for example, decided to take the web back to a human scale. This is good!

I'd love to see, and to participate in, more open source projects that explore these broken branches and dead ends.

Let's make computers Humane.

What would a video editor look like if it was designed to make video editing fast and easy?

Modern video editors are mostly designed for maximal control and precision.

What else could an NLE look like?

Choice paralysis can be a real problem in lots of modern software.

Give me some sane defaults, make choices for me, give me a way to override them when it makes sense. Tell me to fuck off and use another tool when that makes sense.

What could a specialized video editor look like, as opposed to a general purpose video editor?

@kelbot Windows Movie Maker was still just trying to follow what other NLEs did.

It was a standard NLE with bits missing.

And yeah, it was pretty functional and reasonably quick to pick up.

@ajroach42 @kelbot the early versions of iMovie did OK. My then 7-to-8-year-old was editing stuff solo that came up pretty well. They then changed it to pretty much just Final Cut Lite and wrecked it.

@ajroach42 @mike Have you used openshot? I think I remember it trying to be more on the simpler and easier to use end of the spectrum.

@kelbot @mike I found Kdenlive to be much easier to use than openshot, and frankly more forgiving of beginners, but maybe this is not the common experience.

@ajroach42 @kelbot Kdenkive crashed on me once at a really bad point and I swore it off forever. I can forgive missing features or awkward workflows or painful slow rendering but not instability. 😁

@mike @kelbot I've never experienced any instability on kdenlive on linux, but I find most open source software weirdly unreliable on macOS.

I've used iMovie a fair amount, unfortunately. I've used Resolve less, but I found it unfinished, and inscrutable.

@mike @ajroach42 @kelbot I've used kdenlive for my own video editing to good effect. It has crashed on me a couple times in the past, but on the whole, it has been as stable as, say, Windows Movie Maker for me.

I still save-early-save-often, but on the whole, it has treated me well.

@vertigo @ajroach42 @kelbot I freely admit my aversion to it is more emotional than logical.

The old Mac I keep around just for video editing for dropped from major os updates in the last round so I'll probably be re-evaluating everything again in the next year or so. 😁

@mike @ajroach42 @kelbot To be fair and transparent, Kdenlive isn't Final Cut Pro. :) But, for my needs at least, it is serviceable. Here's hoping that it has become stable enough for your needs as well, when that time comes.

@kelbot @ajroach42 I've got a feeling I tried it a long long time ago and wasn't impressed about something. Can't recall much about it at all.

I don't do much video these days but when I do it's usually the current iMovie but I've been playing with DaVinci Resolve a bit too.

@ajroach42 Hmmmm, I don't know. But I'd definitely like to see one built on GStreamer! Allowing you to visually assemble media pipelines.

GStreamer has some infrastructure for precisely this, but I don't know if it's used anywhere.

@alcinnz @ajroach42

I know there's a Gnome app being worked on to show GStreamer graphs visually

@abbienormal @ajroach42 Cool!

Had to be *something* for said infrastructure to be created & maintained...

@ajroach42 Reminds me of how I'd design HTML & CSS editors: They'd be seperate.

When writing documents you'd default to a nice theme (Kev Quirk's Simple.CSS?). But if you don't like that look, you'll be able to open a sidebar full of all the controls webdevs have access to.

Why don't office suites hide their styling options behind the paragraph style selector? That'd encourage better typography, whilst so happening to adhear to oversimplification that's all the rage!

@ajroach42 While I don't remember names, there was a decent amount of entry level video editors in the early Multimedia era (late 90s).

Those were mostly aimed at home video market, where you would make quick videos out of your vacation footage, etc.

The one I played with was quick and simple to use: drop some clips, choose transitions if you want, add titles and text, maybe some effects (I remember adding falling snow to a static winter pic) and go.

I think there were also themes to choose.

@ajroach42 Only supports an A/B cut. One button push zooms to a slider to select your cut point. If there's audio, cut automatically happens at the bottom of a trough in volume unless you turn that off. Alternately specify a time stamp to cut in 0.1 second increments

@ajroach42 90% of the video-editing I do is "chopping clips shorter, then smashing them together" (with titles between, sometimes, if I'm feeling fancy).
This is like "trip report" type of stuff, like you've got a bunch of video-clips from some adventure ... so something that let me "select the next clip, shorten / chop / split it, put it on the end" would be amazing.
(...and for me personally, the clips will be sorted in a directory somewhere so like "edit_video *.mp4" or so to start :)

@ajroach42 i saw a terminal editor that was a linear real-time editor. You would do small 'takes' until you were happy with one and move onto the next. I forget what it was called. It was optimized for remote conference presentations and videos.

@ajroach42 iMovies/windows movie maker simplified the NLE for the average person with a camcorder (but the people with camcorders weren't average people, probably even if they were recording like their kids...)

i suspect a lot of the answers are gonna be "an NLE should look like it's part of gnu emacs" which is easy for programmers, not so much video people or joe blow

@libc early imovie was great. Very near what I want. Currently it's just a stripped back clone of final cut or whatever.

Windows movie maker was ... uhh... maybe a little too simple?

Sugar was fun -- accessible, friendly. I never played with it enough to see the guts. It wasn't like the morphic-based desktop environment that ships with squeak -- which is absolutely wild, like the GUI equivalent of an Obayashi movie. That came out of discussions at the ViewPoints Research Institute about what an idea "gui of the future" would be like.

@enkiv2 @ajroach42
One problem, I think, is that organizations to do weird things with tech mostly don't exist anymore. We just have companies -- and they try to look quirky, but inside they are just corporations. The MIT Media Lab was ethically compromised and scammy in some ways, but it was at least insulated from the need to cut out all but the most obviously profitable decisions.

@enkiv2 @ajroach42

Oh ick, it's part of Y Combinator now.

<< In the Spring of 2016, VPRI joined as part of Y Combinator Research's (YCR) HARC -- Human Advancement Research Community. HARC was founded based on conversations between Alan Kay and Sam Altman of YCR. >>

@enkiv2 @ajroach42

Sidebar: this is what I get when I try to go to YCR HARC

It's probably fine!

@enkiv2 @ajroach42

In Y Combinator's defense, renewing a HTTPS certificate is pretty darn hard

@ajroach42 @enkiv2

Well, it USED TO BE Alan Kay's cool kids club.

Now? Well. I dunno.

@ajroach42 @enkiv2

It's probably time to download and back up all of these documents, if they're not already on the Internet Archive.

Site's already throwing PHP errors.

@enkiv2 @ajroach42
But another problem is that the idea of getting together a bunch of stuffed PhDs in a room to spend six months talking about the future of ANYTHING -- and then BUILD IT -- seems weird today. You can do one or the other but nobody expects to do both -- and mostly, you don't do either, because people who can code work for companies and companies need to be profitable.

@enkiv2 @ajroach42
I work at a firm that works with IP data and science data (i.e., we process patent/trademark/copyright/whatever registrations, and also their litigation history, in order to help companies figure out when to sue each other) and with some very brilliant people, but we too have swallowed the 'agile' pill and are sucked into short-sighted obviously-stupid plans that are not even interesting.

@enkiv2 @ajroach42
"Not even interesting" is the permanent failure mode for a discipline staunchly uninterested in even its recent history -- a discipline fully captured by the incentives and processes of capital, which is even more blind than darwinian evolution, having decided to jettison any kind of long term planning apparatus that might naturally develop.

@enkiv2 @ajroach42 your Big and Small Computing was referenced during today's conversations as well 🙇

@djsundog @enkiv2 Sundog brought his copy up to the makerspace. I have misplaced my print copy and only ahve the ebook at the moment.

@enkiv2 People who can code don't just work for companies, they expect to be paid more than anyone should reasonably expect.

I'm sure a small company could sustain itself making and selling weird open source software, and pay some living wages, but we're never going to make a fortune at it.

@enkiv2 @ajroach42 (As someone with a PhD..) that does happen in some cases; in startups it often happens because the teams are small; in big companies it can happen as well - but often they split it up abit; e.g. a 'research division' that does a lot of talking and prototyping and then gets another group to actually develop a product.

@penguin42 @enkiv2 I work for one of those big companies, have worked for a couple of them, and we did have skunkworks out there prototyping new weird stuff, but it's rarely anything worthwhile, if that makes sense?

I can't say much more than that, but it's just uhhh... I never feel good about the secret projects.

@ajroach42 @penguin42

Yeah, & I think companies are a poor fit for this work because shit gets shut down whenever it becomes clear that it won't be profitable.

Bell was a special case, having a government-sanctioned monopoly & keeping it just through the PR of filing a lot of patents on basic research & waiving licensing fees. Plus all the sputnik money. PARC was also DARPA sputnik money.

@ajroach42 @penguin42

(Specifically: right after the sputnik launch there was a worry about soviet engineering overtaking US industry, so a bunch of money was set aside for supercharging STEM education & engineering collaboration -- some administered by ARPA. It funded ARC, PARC, PLATO, & a lot of other stuff, and dried up by the late 70s.)

@enkiv2 @penguin42 it's also like that in science fiction, lots of major Publications, and especially radio shows, we're just funded by the CIA. They have since made this clear. They did this all so that it looked like capitalism was more creative than communism.

@enkiv2 @ajroach42 @penguin42

British Telecom used to have a few interesting "skunkwork" style projects well the 2000s (their research centre is in my district), nowadays the place seems to be largely empty other than very lean teams working on various "cybersecurity" projects and monitoring overall infrastructure performance (in other words surveillance of the UK's Internet) - no one is allowed to talk about /exactly/ what they are doing, and they are generally paid well enough to keep quiet.

@enkiv2 @ajroach42 @penguin42 Crazy how much Bell did. Just watched the documentary Sisters With Transistors and one of the women included in the doc was playing around with electronic music at Bell Labs, and then after that all got shuttered she spent many years trying to find a place she could even *try* anything like what she had been able to do at Bell Labs. Our society just woefully undervalues research and play (not to mention the interplay between the two!).
Sign in to participate in the conversation
R E T R O  S O C I A L

A social network for the 19A0s.