Friday, January 28, 2011

Notes from visiting Jon Cates

So nice!

He recommended I interview Alan Kay at al...before its too late.

Was interesting to talk to him about different ways in which older forms of software are reclaimed, and why it is more often the older/obsolete kinds of software that are used in these reclamation projects. Two things are important here - copywritght/ data rights management/digital locks placed on newer forms of software are harder to crack, and in general these obsolete kinds are also cheap and relatively easy to obtain.

It was also interesting that he noted that for young people (20 yr olds) its not a case of nostalgia about these tools, but rather a new kind of phenomenon that has arisen with the internet of feeling like it is possible to just call up any point in history and experience the possibility of reinhabiting that period. The kind of belief that you can search for anything on the internet and you will find it (even if that doesn't always quite work out - there is a kind of assumption that it is possible to do so which just was not ever imagined by previous generations. That this ability to just call up an old kind of media (and probably get one's hands on the actual thing, through online 2nd hand shopping) enables a tangible experience with another point in the history. (In the case of computers - in the history of electronic hardware).

He also expressed a reservation for the kinds of attitude, in looking back at the history of computing, or in working with older software, when it was tinged with the spirit of "going back to a simpler time" in computing - as in a way it was a form of escapism from the more complex digital world we inhabit.

He also told me about the real history of Alan Kay and the guys at Xerox Parc and how they were screwed over by Apple but I'm sure most people reading the internet know about this kind of thing so I am going to check my facts first and then try to recount this episode.

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