Alan Kay's tribute to Ted Nelson at "Intertwingled" Fest (2014)

From Viewpoints Intelligent Archive
Revision as of 05:41, 24 November 2021 by Ohshima (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search
hi Ted congratulations on
your fest day I'm so sorry I won't
be able to be with you but I found out that
I had to stay in Boston this entire
week I was trying to get out of something on Thursday
so I could fly back here Wednesday
night but I can't do it so we made
this video to celebrate
your day and
Bonnie and I thought that
the most important part of this
would be to thank you so
much for being responsible for us
meeting up falling in love and getting married
and Bonnie made a little video explaining this
and here she is hi I'm Bonnie
McMurray and this is how Ted Nelson spawned the
movie Tron and a marriage that's lasted more than 30
years the year was 1979
I just left Universal Studios to write a movie about
a videogame warrior inside of a computer there
were no personal computers at that time only these
in LA there were many video arcades but
one computer stores for home-brewed types only I
went there and found this book
Nelson I read it cover to cover well covered
a middle and then upside down and other cover to
middle and there was an article about Alan Kay so
I went up to Xerox PARC and met the guy a half
hour interview stretched in two hours and
Alan Kay became the technical consultant
on the movie Tron we spent many happy hours in
conversation along Venice and Santa Monica beaches and
also do cars and I wrote a script
filled with cool science there was a bit who
to be a program and there was a video game warrior along
to be a human the script was uploaded to Park
on this and then I went up there and edited
the script on the alto computer making sure on
the first movie script ever to be edited for the word processing
program it's sold to Disney and after eight new writers
and considerable meddling it became the movie Tron
groundbreaking yes but Alan I think the marriage turned up
into the movie we thank you Ted Nelson
thanks bond
as thornton wilder's old fortune teller says
it is easy to tell the future but asks
who can tell the past it's not
just a memory problem but one of too much complicated detail without
enough perspectives it would be great if we could go
a look at the world Bonnie talks about and to
some extent we can some years
Xerox decided to clean their warehouse and throw out most
of the park data discs here's one of the few that got
saved about 100 out of
thousands were rescued and a few thousand files were
recovered and just one of all of those files
happen to contain one of our systems from the 70s
small talk is in the form of a software
internet of software computers that is completely self-contained
there's no separate operating system
applications etc only software computers
communicating with each other and each simulating
some aspect of the personal computer system
some objects simulate characters on the
screen some simulate pictures some windows some places where
the users can do things the software computers
terms of virtual hardware that is independent of
the physical computers they run on to bring
this back to life we emulated the virtual hardware in
JavaScript actually it is faster
than the actual park computers of 40 years ago and
with this we have a time machine that
allows us to go back back back into the past and
run the same software that both bonnie and steve
jobs' saw in fact I've
been using the system to give this talk here
we see something that is vaguely familiar overlapping
windows iconic representations
and so forth and this
system ran on the
three main machines at Xerox PARC the alto
the first modern
style of personal computer the
note-taker the first portable computer and the
more powerful Dorado computer windows
here our views of tools and the kinds
authors use to create the
writings of the future they're not apps
we can bring any and all objects in
small talk system to any of these
projects and we see
here a view of the system itself and
animation a halftone painting I
did 40 years ago I can
scribble it up a little bit for you
here's some text the system also
had a gesture recognizer we
little bit later for something I think you'll like but
here I can use it as a way to reorganize
this view of text now let's go
to the place I use to organize this talk
here each of the small windows are links
to places where people can do projects that stretch
over time you can think of this system
is having unlimited desktops each
persists and they are media themselves
anything can be done in each of them
and they can be linked together in any way they
are not hierarchical I'm using some of
these for this presentation and we can see where we've
been and now I'm going to enter
the next one which is a
typical media screen for
trying to describe something in this case Park
research this
work was just part of the elephant of personal
computing which is as in the
blind philosophers was being interpreted in different
ways by different researchers the
ARPA eye PTO information
processing techniques office community have no central
religion in funded people not projects so
there are lots of different views Park
was a microcosm of this community starting
in the 70s and also very very here
are just four of a number of emphases I
this way because individual researchers
often part of more than one research area
today we are looking at work done by the learning research
group of which I was a part another major
group was part of the computer systems lab which
did much of the hardware heavy lifting and day-to-day tools
one group that is less well known was the
Pollos group which was made from some of the Anchor
Bar Dean's that came over to park in the early
70s and they did a dazzling subset
of NLS among other things the
basic idea of ARPA was to avoid the disputes over
different points of view that were part of the blind philosophers
fable and try to do what scientists have done
with figuring out a universe that we can only approach
piecemeal one of the triumphs of a few
hundred years ago was to be able to make globes of the earth as if
it would look if we were out in space two
hundred years later the views in the 1980s were
quite identical to the globes of 1780
there were hardly any surprises
another myth about park was its extreme originality
in fact it is almost more
accurate to claim that we were less original in
the seventies than we had been in the 60s when many of the
ideas were explored for the first time there
was an enormous wealth of ways to think about personal computing
and networks including sketchpad in the early
60s the very image of personal computing
Engelbart of course Nelson and Van Damme
that's you and Andy Ted the grail
gesture recognition system on a tablet
hat was invented the same year as the mouse 1964
and this is where are the conventions of making
arrows windows moving and resizing them
came from Seymour Papert in the logo
turtle Simula and some
of our own stuff as well such as the ARPANET the Flex
machine with its own first object-oriented operating
system the idea of the dynamic
and much much more and there was the Whole Earth
Catalog and its folks nearby Menlo
who are thinking big thoughts about universal access
to tools not just physical but especially
mental this was the first book in the park library
and it had a big influence on part
of how we thought things should be we love
the idea of lots of different tools being available with
explanations and comments and could see that would be just
wonderful if such media could be brought to life as one found
and made it this led to ideas
about the next level of how to explain and explore by
actually making things from computer stuff in the
kind of general literacy we have for reading and writing
but now including the reading and writing of
dynamic models this
best learned by children and so we started
to work with them here's the computer version of
year-old Marion Goldeen
wrote in creative computing magazine in 1975
about what she'd done the previous year in
our group the computer
version goes beyond reading to allow the reader to
try out the very things that Marion is talking about
we call this form an active essay right
in the essay is a simulation of an alto
screen so one can see what things look like when
she did her projects and doing the very
things that she did she started off by making a
box object called Jo that can be sent
messages to get it to behave programming
and small talk is a bit more like training intelligent agents
then like the more standard metaphor of programming
as being like a cook making something from inert ingredients and
now here's a wrinkle
a demo we used to do which combine animation and painting
tools the animation tool is animating
the bouncing ball and we can see that it's a bit weak we
would expect that the ball would deform when it hits the
ground we should draw a better cell for
this frame now the animation effect
depends on what the brain does when it sees two different images
one right after the other animators like
to say the animation takes place in between the frames
this means that we'd really like to do
redrawing of the bottom frame while the animation is running but
these are different tools if they
were apps in a conversion commercial version
of personal computing we most likely expect
hat they don't talk to each other and it would be difficult
to get them to talk to each other this is a pet peeve
of Ted's but here they are just objects
and any object can talk to any object
first let's take a look at the menu for
the animation window we can stop it
icking we can single-step to the frame we care about now
we want to share this frame with a painting tool
if this was prepared ahead of time we would
already be done but that would lose the point of this demo
instead to paraphrase the row we need to
find out what Texas might have to say to Massachusetts that
is how do each of the tools characterize their
parts and behaviors then we can do what ted
loves is to draw a line between the two windows
some of the actions could already be predefined
but here we want to define one so
we do this gesture to create a dynamic link between the
windows and what we
want to say here is that the
painters picture wants
to be linked to the bouncing
Windows current frame so we'll just write that
in there and do it now we can start the animation
again and start painting the deformed ball
and it starts to look
pretty good of course
the plenty enough for today we
had a terrific time bringing back this old system
to life over the last few months as mentioned
here all of the demos and forms were
derived from old examples shown and published in the 70s
and made without changing smolitics graphics
system the beautiful dithered pictures use the
floyd Steinberg technique which is partially worked out by them at
Stanford and Park at the same time our
system was built but we hardly use pictures
like these or many bitmap paintings
because there simply wasn't enough storage to hold them
so it's nice to take advantage of the larger storage
capacities today an iPhone for
many tens of thousands of times larger and faster
than the park machines
the ancient proverb is in the country of the blind the
one-eyed man is king Robert Heinlein's
version is in the country of the blind the
one-eyed man is in for a hell of a rough time my
version combines these into a pretty good model for
understanding much of human history in the country
of blind the one-eyed people run things and
people are in for the hell of a rough time but
we owe much of civilization to the insights and
suffering of the tiny number of two eyed people
Ted Nelson is one of those rare to eye people
and we owe much to him and this
is being celebrated today my
view of how this works is that the two eyed people
come up with a glorious symphony of how life will be so much
deeper and richer if we just did X and the
regular world acts as a low-pass filter on the ideas
in the end we are lucky to get a dial tone
the blind won't see it and the
one eyed people only catch a glimpse but
hey think their glimpse is the whole thing and in
our day and age if they think money can be made from
the glimpse something will happen they
want to sell to the max mass market of the blind
so they will water the glimpse down much farther
it could be educators and help the blind
learned how to see this is what science has done for the entire human
race but learning to see is a chore and so
most are not interested especially marketing people
this is too bad especially when we consider the
efforts the two eyed people have to go through to even
have a glimpse happen one of the keys
the two eyed people to turn into evangelist both
Ted and Our Mutual hero Doug Engelbart were tireless
over their lifetimes in pointing out that in
this dial-tone world the Emperor not only
no clothes but his cellphone can't transmit real music
is this to mix the metaphor
another key is to make a working sister
this is our person especially parks
main mission make something that works not
just for a demo but for a group
of people some of what I showed is what Steve
Jobs saw and the Macintosh was
result of his glimpse and interpretations
by him and others at Apple of that glimpse
it wasn't a dial tone but it missed a
number of really important ideas just as many of Ted's
and Doug's ideas have been missed so
with all this why bodger bother having visions
standard schooling is already trying to convert
to AI children into standard children that is
blind children why
not just put more effort into this and save all the bother
to me the visionaries are the most important people
we have because it is only by comparing their ideas
with our normals that we can gauge how we are
doing otherwise as it
is for most people normal becomes
their reality and they only measure from it
toss Ted back
into this mix and you've upset the applecart
and that's what we need this allows us to
see that normal is only one of many possible constructions
and some of them could have been a much better and
as the normals in the future could be much better and very
different from what is considered reality today
let's be very thankful that
we live in a time in a place where two eye people
are not burnt
at the stake or worse they
were really supported in in the 60s and
you're tolerated at least today and
let us also be thankful
that we have a two eyed person like tell
Ted Nelson who has
been tirelessly energetic
about not just having
ideas but going out and telling people about them
not letting them die not letting
them get absorbed into the low-pass filter
so thanks to it so much personal
thanks from body and me for
being responsible for our marriage and
beautiful life together Thanks bye bye