Let’s explore odd moments in the history of computing when events, people, ideas, and technology collided to eventually redirect our network-driven daily lives. We will ask “what if?” and “why?” regarding technologies you may have forgotten or never heard about. Suggested exercises may improve your Internet strategies. This blog welcomes your questions, corrections, observations, and own odd moment memories.
Sample Topics: History; Beautiful Ideas; Threats; and a Hack.
We begin 75 years ago with the insightful image of a post-war peace-time knowledge society freed from today’s commercial fancies. Vannevar Bush’s “As We May Think” article portrays a brilliant cognitive assistant that influenced research before the Dawn of Web Time. Digital advances have realized most of the envision Memex “Memory Extender”, machine.
Oddly, the key idea , dubbed a “trail”, is only now formalizing as “web annotations”, that we’ll discuss in a future post. First, we’ll explore whether the”loose links” from the early WWW undermine the “trail” concept and how we might manage our thoughts during web research.
Jump forward a dozen years. We’ll revisit historical moments that illustrate how the non-networked world influenced the Internet story in ways we might have forgotten, not connected, or never studied. For example, in 1957, Sputnik 1 energized US science education and spawned ArpaNet. Later, Reagan’s “star Wars” (SDI) clarified the risk of computers to society. Japan’s 1980’s Fifth Generation Initiative targeted a visionary system model that stimulated international industry and academic competition and cooperation. A conspiracy theorist rumbled through computer science. The Total Information Awareness response to 9-11 raised concern for privacy loss then weapons of misinformation. Today, economic theory describes “The Age of surveillance Capitalism”.
No, this blog is not your traditional computing history.
Where Do These Viewpoints Come from?
What do I, your odd moment reminder, know? I’m a lucky beneficiary of “Sputnik shock” leading to a meandering career through programming languages, software verification, groupware, technology transfer, and engineering education. I’m a “threat caster”, who imagines the risks of how a piece of software can go wrong, cause harm, and waste resources. Many articles in this blog are off-shoots of my speculative auto-fiction novella A Chip On Her Shoulder. I have two decades experience with assistive technology described in As Your World Changes blog on losing vision and Catch the Vision community service group webmaster. A “disability Primer” and later topics will fill in blanks for the privileged sighted. My perspectives have been honed by over 100 short, peer-delivered courses in the Yavapai College Osher Lifelong Learning (OLLI) community.
My motto is “Odd moments favor the imagination and vice versa”.
I believe small-scale experiments offer the best ways for readers of all net-level experience to crash through the mystique of “code” and “innovation”. Each article suggests a toy problem as well as stories and my personal observations. I’ll show how to manipulate Google searches to provide deeper, often darker, results using a “Controversy Discovery Engine” hack. You’ll love it!
I call this “the twurled world” to mash together “twist”, “URL”, and the resulting technological society.
Warning: you are now entering “The TwURLed World”!
Topics to follow:
Historical Turning Points Before The Dawn of Web Time.
hyperlinked trails in Vannevar Bush’s 1945 vision of future knowledge worker support, the MEMEX and how “loose links” fail us.
How Sputnik changed science education for U.S. students (like, moi), and Having your own personal computer, in 1963.
Where the 1970s ArpaNet grew up under a trusted leader who might have derailed the trends toward “surveillance capitalism”.
How the 1980s Japanese Fifth Generation project boosted then lost quality leadership, and how computing policies might be more declarative, less jumbled and checkable.
How the Reagan Star Wars (SDI) movement faced-off computing and physical scientists, and launched a risks culture.
Suppose we were serious about recorded, disciplined decision making, as taught by 1980s groupware and issue-based reasoning, would we be wiser with less messy software?
How a feisty modern conspiracy theorist rumbled 1980-ish computing practice, shifting advances from US to Europe and his latest despicable antics.
A lovely mess of discussion groups, Usenet, initiated social media before surveillance capitalism and why it might return some day, some way.
My search Hack – the Controversy Discovery Engine!!
Searching the Organizational and Analytic webs using a query vocabulary extender – the Controversy Discovery Engine (free). The public arrives at the Dawn of Web Time.
How and when did the Internet become commercial?
Whatever happened to “Total Information Awareness”and privacy? (remember 9-11).
The concept of Googlearchy, and hyperlink mal) practice that led to the economic logic of surveillance capitalism.
That elegant RSS protocol which Google dumped to disrupt subscribed article reading, , and its rebound into podcasting.
Back on the MEMEX trail using Web Annotation and “critical thinking as educational tools.
Beautiful Ideas for Everybody!
A simple explanation of “program” styles.
The over-simplified “Fundamental Theorem of Test Data Selection” and why your program has bugs.
Ada Lovelace, the first “computational thinker”, and the language named for her, a lovely women in computing story of the pre-industrial era.
A beautiful theory of formal languages, its activist Chomsky), and neat things about regular expressions.
How Steve Jobs iPhone speech breakthrough mobilized assistive technology. When the Risks Come True.
A Feature Interaction screenplay – “When Devices Take A Hike”
How fiction rescued education about ethics in computing – ‘Black Mirrors’.
Living through a real half-day network collapse (the Northern AZ outage).
Scenario: May I have a social media makeover, please?
A social media honey pot, who cares about me?
To recover an email episode , or not, the emotions of reliving a memory. Seeing and Living With Odd Vision.
World Views of Medical and Social and Technology — A Disability Explainer).
A lazy way to write your autobiography (and a look an mine)
How do blind people read and write? how sighted folks benefited from our assistive technology.
Living inter-species as a guide dog handler. Way finding with six legs, two brains, and one overzealous nose.