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.

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
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 (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.

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