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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A social network for the 19A0s.