Alan Kay at TED (1984)

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I forgot to say something about what
it's like in my tell executive Alan Kay
is a former illustrator and potential musician I was just listened this one
Joseph Alan Kay is a professional is a former illustrator and professional
musician he somehow is he bachelor's degrees in mathematics and molecular
biology while working his way to school as a systems programmer for the National
Center for Atmospheric Research and spending most of his time composing
music the local theatrical production I mean exactly
amazing Alan has been involved with the
desired development of the first personal computers from there very early
inception and after a short stint at Stanford artificial intelligence project
he was one of the founders of 0 up to Palo Alto Research Center where was
Hennessey learning research group and the original designer of a giant of
personal computers and the small talk programming system and those of you that
don't know this the small talk is really where this came from this this type of
screen the overlapping windows and he
really was I guess you could call mother fathers of the first modern personal
computer after decade at Xerox PARC he
left became chief scientist at Atari where he is now he is still an avid
first amateur magician the classical
pipe organ is a member of the International Society organ builders who to paraphrase dr. Johnson it does not
play tennis well but one is surprised to see him play at all
[Music] thank you
[Music] why ago when I was proselytizing about
the personal computer which I must
confess you I had a slightly different image than these boxes that have been
sold today I made a serious error which
was to talk more about some concrete
examples of what a personal computer might do rather than to try and convey
the spirit of what I felt personal computing was about and let people make
up their own ideas and what we come to after about 15 years now is some
interesting but rather slavish adherence
to some fairly old ideas and so what I'd
like to do today to briefly go through some thought processes that a designer
of these systems might have and get you to try and fill in the blank the
personal computer is not personal is it isn't what you want it to do it's not
what Apple wants it to be it's not what Xerox wants you to do it isn't what you wanted to be Genet isn't your personal
computer I see so much from industry
talking about these the Intellivision as the new America kinds of things how are
they there's main audience this is middle America and I I thought how
interesting it would be
because you happen to do you spent middle America and there's certain
things you might write it might disturb you then wouldn't allow you to feel
comfortable anymore I think it restricting content in that
way is not a way to deal with a medium the medium is the thing that has
billions of degrees of freedom and to be shaped in ways that the inventors of the
medium didn't anticipate so there's that it's no better than a tool and community
computer is not a tool the program to run on at our schools because they
directed degrees experience I mean the computer is a container for the newest
kind of kinetic art art that needs to
time like music and ballet and so forth it's a little more abstract but it is
that kind of material we call it a meta
medium because it's content there's other media you can see when you looked
at Macintosh that what it was doing was simulating some of the aspects of paper
that's trying to do some of the big things about paper like readability and
remove some of the bad things about paper like difficult to erase and hard
to insert and so forth but if you do lots of other things I know you all all
realize that computers can simulate music they continue like graphics we've
seen lots of that the most important thing about computers film does not read
or hear simulate but the possibility that you might be able to tailor the
things that are on there to your own use that is a reflective notion Rason and
aspect of notion I'm gonna talk that's really the theme of my talk is that if I
had to sum up my main complaint about 20th century especially the time that we
live in now that it's almost in tow almost totally devoted to access to hit things
that get the glands going but which lesion was almost nothing to reflect on
even in the next minute let alone the next day I was on they says a
blue-ribbon panel that was convened by Disney to go down and evaluate F tot he
did in high style for three days or so and these people who actually from the
same kind of background as the people in this content had many opinions about
Epcot but there was one unanimous one and that was that none of the exhibits
that Escott had any follow-up so he's a suspension to a quite a wonderful
exhibit called lands where you could go through the standard Disney
almost an almost totally devoted key
access to his hip things that get the glands going but which we she was almost
nothing to reflect on even in the next minute let alone the next day I was on
they says a blue-ribbon panel that was convened by Disney to go down and
evaluate F Scott he did in high style
for three days or so and these people who actually from the same kind of
Batman as the people in this conference had many opinions about Escott but there
was one unanimous one and that was that none of the exhibits at Ascot had any
follow-up so these are instance a quite
a wonderful exhibit called the land where you should go through the standard Disney
well after you got off that ride there wasn't even a stencil on the wall telling you where to find out anything
more he wanted to learn something there wasn't a pamphlet it wasn't a bookstore
there wasn't a any graffiti done with
spray paint there was nothing and so they brought you up this place where
you're now interested like the Road Dogg and the commercial who heard the name of
the Bao and started juggling balls and
balancing tears and stuff and then they just drop you came up with something
like water or American beer or something
like that so I think that if we think
we're in the media business and if he
thinks that we're designers and we have to think of something different than the
computer as a box maybe using something different than the computers as a
the interesting that though IBM hasn't worried about interaction in
geologic time in the auto community
starting around 1961 or so the whole
focus and interest of that community has been to develop the computer as a
symbiotic Asian an amplifier for human read this is not a new idea was not
invented by Apple was not invented by Xerox goes back long ways and it's
actually intellectual precursor of this is a wonderful article which is called
as we may think written by Vannevar Bush
in 1945 as we published in Atlantic Monthly and he's produced a number of
things including Drive photography but the major part of the article was
devoted to a machine he calls mimics which is thought of as a small desk
light thing with two or three screens on it and a way of pointing that
information and in here by using various optical storage techniques we do the
contents of a small town library five or
eight thousand volumes and the principal thing he did with this was to be able to
lay down your own information trails there were already built trails with the
idea is that you could lay down your own trails and these became new information
in that system that article was the inspiration for the ARPA funding in
interactive computing in 1961 that led to the first time sharing system that
led to the first computer graphics led to the first pointing devices the first
truly higher-level languages to artificial intelligence and all of those things came from that idea and in fact
in many ways the third of the sixties was much more adventurous than the
seventies or even the eighties back then the
good million dollars but the kinds of
things that we're done on them were not fettered by any theory of making them into a product they're done solely to
try and amplify some aspects of human reach so I thought what I would do is
since we're talking about the future is to give you four way to think about it
to help predict the future and the first one is when we started up jirachi
had jocks executives coming out of our ears the first couple of years being
very anxious saying what is the future going to be like what if a Japanese
gonna do what is gonna happen to us and everything else and I finally says
what's the best way to predict the future is to invent it it is not
something that's going to happen to us it's something we're gonna make happen that's what research teams are all about
we will have a vision of the future we will make a division vision if you can
as long as that doesn't violate too many of Newton's laws we can probably make it
work now there's a difference between a
clear vision and a good vision I think
the hardest thing to get is a good vision we heard about a clear one last
night about Kennedy's clear vision that we should put a man on the moon in
before the end of the of the decade I think to me that was a fairly terrible
vision and I'll tell you why because it set back safe travel 20 years and he
didn't say let's invent space travel said let basically let us show us the
Russians what we got out of that was everything except space that we did get lots of good technology we got even more
management techniques for managing 300 thousand people and twenty four billion
dollars the NASA people say themselves if that was the greatest single fallout
was learning how to do really large projects but what we couldn't get is
space travel and we don't have it today there's no travel to the moon
travel to Mars there's no travel to anywhere in space were going up in orbit
like he did in 1963 so an important idea
I think is when revision is formed it
has to have several characteristics one is it has to be a rather long range vision because it unfortunately it's a
very long time to get things done and out the door in our business this is the
second point it takes 10 years to get something out into commercial life from
a new idea in the laboratory the first personal computer actually wasn't the
the ENIAC it was done in 1963 and I just
went to the 20th anniversary of it a few months ago with John sponsored by NIH as
a machine called the wink took 10 years ago from that machine does a marvelous
little device $10,000 in 1963 was own
virtual memory its own display screen its own into a certain budget several
thousand of them were built it took ten years to go from that to the Xerox Alto
which is the first practical personal computer in 1973 first video game was
done in 1962 on the TV one called space war Andy Nolan Bushnell his first game
was called computer space and it came out in 1972 so you see the 10-year time
constants and in those 10 years are usually two or three very long very
bloody implementation efforts and it is almost unheard of for those 10 years to
take place in a single company almost always we find a disillusionment
cherry-picking people moving on and so forth and what happened at jerash Park is no
exception for 10 years that's the time constant I
couldn't afford to believe in long ago but I'm afraid it's really true third
thing is when you're dealing in media instead of tools we have to face up to
the kind of cycle that media John who over the last thousand years
four main parts to it is a hardware intensive phase where most of the
profits are made by margins on the hardware whose as to in publishing as it
has been in the computer business then
we as people learn to build Hardware the margins go down to zero because the
hardware is always the easiest thing to build have an industrial revolution you
can build paper like crazy and all of a sudden you go into a software stage
which completely changes everything around why because software is always been a
cottaging industry basically something
that unless there is a power structure in control almost anybody can make up
software for the medium and usually what happens is a really smart hardware
company will go into distribution in order to control that because no
software publishing house has ever been able to control all of its known authors
and stay in business you have to go in and distribute other people's things the
software part has a novelty phase and a value say what happened to atari last
year was a an abrupt switch from a novelty stage to a value phase for the
cartridges that they were making a substantial part of their income on it
happened about a year earlier than I thought it was going to happen can
happen abruptly as soon as the users have sophisticated all of a sudden it's
not a citizen band radio anymore that they want to sell us they don't know
it's cellular but they have realized that they this new gadget has only 40
channels and they can't call their friend across town even if he has one
it's not a real communication system all of a sudden want something real
and the citizens band radio goes in the back of the closet and wait for that
value agent piece of technology to come along now the most important phase I
think is the next one this is the one that is absolutely critical to thinking
about this new field that we're in and that is the service safe I think that's
actually the big revolution in my own thinking about personal computer which happens in 1968-69 really came about by
understanding that the computer was not a piece of hardware it was not effusive
software I thought I was being very adventurous back then in from bundling
the tea together designing the hardware and the software at the same time so I
finally realized what the computer is is a gadget that delivers service that's
what people want and want service from this is a service concept it's not a
hardware as a software concept service is a bundling of attributes to satisfy a
person for teach me the Japanese sell
their cars more like transportation services than they do but as p.m. did
for so many years as a menu ICICI that you could buy and having 300 horsepower
or 400 horsepower or a suite or Chrome or x2 tail fin
service and that service area is the one in which medium development is most
critical it's the one that tells you what to do my main bit about the way personal
computers have done over the last decade is that it has been very far away from
that idea since we're selling the hardware system on the live stage that
we're talking about now software is all over the place software delivers for service an
integrated concept that we see in Macintosh is wonderful I'm glad that Apple is doing that but we have to
realize that those ideas go back to 1972 and so what we must ask is where are the
things that we actually need to the 1980s now the final stage and this four
part thing is when a service becomes a way of life like this like a telephone
telephone a way of life is that gadget
that you only notice when it isn't there we immediately notice if they weren't
telephones in our hotel room we knew we know that if we didn't have one of these
things and I think that's the destiny of communications media to be pushed
towards being a way of life providing they fit in to all the crevices and
mundane ADIZ and amplification needs that people actually want now last we're
bringing to the fourth idea for predicting the future I think everybody
has realized by now that market analysis doesn't work very well it's not clear
that even worse over a two-year period and they absolutely has been disastrous over anything longer than a senior
experience the Xerox machine is a perfect ation point guess our writes in
his book about how they took the ID Xerox 914 to eidm he said we don't have
enough money to build factories for this why don't you build it and just give loyalty an IBM went to Arthur B little
in Cambridge and said should we and our Sydney little after an 18-month market
survey came back and said no nobody will pay a nickel a copyist to expense that
nobody copies like that is not enough copy volume that was many billions of
dollars ago des hours Brooks was called my years with Xerox the billions nobody
wanted and Jacqueline the two scientists
who asked just retired and he's writing the book I said Jackie should call it me
Roxanne the personal computer the billions they didn't want because again
we have this recognition problem you ought to give it to itself you may not
know this but these jobs worked for Atari and in fact the Apple one was
taken to Nolan Bushnell Lee who then president of Atari and was turned down
there's not being a valid concept this
is after Nolan had left Ampex because antics wouldn't believe in the idea of a
video game so all of these things led to
a saying that I made up with his point of view is worth 80 IQ points the reason
is that after Xerox turned down all the stuff that had been built apart
I met after a year if I'd met him the
next day I would have killed him but after a year I met the person who
made that decision and realized to my great surprise that he was not a dodo as
Ayakashi is just a perfectly reasonable rather intelligent who asked executives
who had no possible way of evaluating the decision that he had to make he made
the wrong one and that changed the face of computing in America but he himself
was a copier executive and he had no way
of telling whether what we were doing was just something interesting in the lab was something fundamental and I
believe that is the number one problem in doing something interesting with
technology the tendency is to cater to the marketing people to basically not
into the value systems that the really good technologies and bring about so
there's a real tendency towards building the trivial and leaving out the Olympian
gestures which I think are what we need many more of all right I guess the one
thing I should say about the de Buono IV I never like that when I read the Bono's
but because who wants to be in a hole even if it's a new one I think it's much
better to find a hill and climb up on it you can see a lot farther in a hole all
you see is dirt maybe you're dirt but it's still only dirt that's easy to a
good quote by Heinlein which says the strongest weapon you have is the one
between your ears providing that's loaded
I'm very close to being a Luddite and
reason I am is because the this is a technique crazy century we've finally
found out how to make technique work for us and there's led to enormous
technologies we've been talking about over the next days that has led in
musical conservatories to the faster
Chopin major third F has s leads been Val the phenomenon of piano players and
stuff it is basically an age that is extremely interested in the quantitative
and has extreme difficulties we're dealing with any value system and this
is disastrous so what I'd like to do is
just show you a couple of quick slides
and give you an idea what a vision was like back in the early 70s and then in
the few moments remaining get you to think about along with me about what
could this thing be so that is a place where you always start off we have to
start off with values saying what could this be don't worry about the technology
honestly if not us than the Japanese can
probably make a display out of this wooden floor if they wanted to it's not
really that difficult glorifying
technology is is is like deciding that
the layout of an ad is good but the message of it is bad and therefore it
stores it ads I don't think that's the way to think about it okay
if you could focus out a little bit that'll do
well this is just memory lane this is a
machine that I was the arose in 1968 and it was not the first
personal computer as I mention it's always a second one as you see it had
all of the things that we have come to recognize have a high-resolution display
stream that had windows it had a tablet
for pointing and had a keyboard and this
machine ran a little hotter than the Macintosh it had almost 700 ICS in it so
you could we have a little perch on the top of it for heating our coffee pots
but the nonetheless if it ran a higher
level language that was almost an almost a pure object-oriented language so it
had all of the things that people are writing about now in Time magazine the
unfortunate thing about this was that it was a total disaster when we tried it
out on our users now users were people were supposed to be doctors and lawyers
and engineers professional people who needed to wield a tool on their own
behalf and in fact I discovered that I'd done a terrible job even with Windows
and all of these things in doing the human factors of interaction now that's
the first time I ever thought that the human factors of interaction was really
important now it's come sense to believe that it is the employee saying because
it's the only thing that user ever sees no other thing in the computer is
important and it led to the idea of the
Box not being very important to look at that system and you realize that there
are only a few square inches not cubic inches that are important that's the
face of the display string and almost everything else is superfluous so we
turn the slides off for one second
after working my wounds for a couple years over there cuz it's really painful
to put blood into something over a period of some years and haven't turned out to be a disaster and so I went on to
get other things for a while but thinking about it in 1958 I had also
seen the first flat panel display at the University of Illinois and I realized it
was not going to be too long before we could do away with all those cubic inches and start worrying about the
square inches account and also at Utah
Ivan Sutherland had done his head mounted display when he played to put on
like glasses and actually walk around in their display area so when I went to
Xerox with our lure of 10 10 year blank check funding these were the two
physical ideas for what a machine in the 1980 to be and of course why were we
thinking the 1980s because we had 10 years and so we just exploited the
hardware out and decided yes machines like the Dynabook are definitely
possible these are to form now I put that big green question mark here
because I don't believe that these are the only forms in fact I believe
something more like what niche means Oh Ponty talks about in the first lecture
maybe even more appropriate now the glass is one I think is going to work
out for a variety of reasons it is the
only thing in which you do not have to worry about how large you display is the
entire world and the glasses at Utah
measured where your head was looking so as you looked around the display would
change so you'd have something over here and something over here and used to walk
through the display we even did a thing where we made the speed of light 1 foot
per second those runs that things you were acting like a photon and the
display would collapse away from you using the relativistic transforms so you
could experience different physics specific experience what it was like to get close to a black hole without
getting not
now the problem was almost all displays is officially small that is where the
overlapping windows came in from it's not a feature it is a bug saying they
have it turned into a religion now really makes me worried a little bit because you realize about what you
really like to do is have everything spread out so you could see it the overlapping window saying was done
because you don't have that much room you still would like to be reminded what's on the street I don't see that is
the display that is suitable for thinking about now and should not be
doing that okay back to the slide
citizen machine we built in the 1973 eventually build about 2,000 of these
the pledge we took at Xerox very
different from the way we've done things before that we've never build a system there was not engineered for 100 users
so all of a sudden before I was totally bubblegum together and it barely works
for the designer here we decided we're going to have to set up a community hook
together with the network and work with it for several years so the screen there
was that tape because the DynaVox was that shape the dots are on and off
because we thought liquid crystal would be on an R now why would anybody in the
right mind use a video display that can do great GL modulation and just do on
arras docks especially when you saw what
mission kapaa need to do with saucepot you can get much higher subjective
resolution by using grayscale modulation
bitmap displays today are slavish adherence to something that was
originally done to simulate a liquid crystal display in fact I still have a
bleep marks on my back from Xerox management when they were doing the star
and I tried to talk him out of going with a bitmap but it was too late what
they understood was that bitmaps were good that was their their take on it and
he didn't want to think about what it meant for human being to sit in front of
a display the infamous now well we
didn't invent it Mouse was actually invented in 1965 at Fri why did we use
it well because we didn't have a good touch sensitive display
why are people using it now I don't know
there must be a reason but in fact for
immediacy and contact he is possible to
use it a touch-sensitive display much better in fact the Dynabook was designed so that you only displayed the keyboard
when you need it don't really want a keyboard for hardly anything except
certain times of Tyson and the rest of the stuff you want to be as close and immediate as possible original jiying
the books did have a stylus in it for doing high-resolution kinds of things so
what we have what we have here today are several technology that was therefore
expedient reasons back in 1972 when hardware is very expensive and for
purposes of simulating a flat screen display that have no relevance today and
it is no good saying that this is better than the IBM PC because those are
judgments have no place in art we don't care whether a Beethoven symphony is
better than a bronze seems to me what we care is is it good users or not and I
think that is the design ideal that we should need to grow it
so here's the first KT system this is John in 1972 this is the pictures of men
and this is a system that Stuart brand used that year I might mention here that
the Whole Earth Catalog was a tremendous influence on the Dynabook design because
the Dynabook was always thought to be a network system not a standalone system
that's another bug in the personal computer market a computer computer is a
communications device first second and third that is what it is for because you
communicate with yourself through it like he do his paper and you should be
able to communicate with other people and other resources critically important
so here's I thought you'd be interested in a pictures from 1972 the LTL had
about 30 or 40% more dots than the Apple Lisa and those dots were half the number
of dots we thought when necessary had 500,000 dots to camp we had thought to
the million necessary again the ability to do things that the human eye can read
and appreciate are incredibly important
in old pictures in the dating text and drive the pencil was one of our favorite
metaphors remember portability is not point-five herniation per block really
isn't the phrase I made up back then was something so portable you can carry
other things too
like two sacks of groceries the idea on a personal communications medium is you
don't want to ever give the person the opportunity for deciding to leave it
behind or you missed it you've missed
the service aspects of it and you've totally missed its possibilities for
becoming a way of life absolutely critical is one of the earliest window
things Windows as I think everybody knows that actually the back end of
telescopes that look into different information systems the ones with the
multiple panes they were designed by Larry Tesler who is now at at Apple and
they're used for browsing one of the earliest of the innovative text and
graphics editors where the token
astrak-- is being created they're just
going blurry more and more blurry and you can see that the painting system in this on the alto is integrated into the
document so that you didn't go out to some separate system but it was just one
of the many times of Paris so you can think of a paragraph as a window can't
you sort of a rectangular saying and some paragraphs can have pictures in
them some might want to have draft and then some might want to have animations in them some might want to have text in
them and the document is really the
system concept that unifies these this
is an interesting program so that was the first time that real time note
capture was done was done by a 15 year old child not I usually travel I didn't
wasn't planning on talking here I had the slides long because I'm working on a
a talk in a couple of months from now I usually travel with movies and
videotapes reason is is that as we Harrison said long ago he says the
picture may be worth a thousand words but if it moves
and it's no good talking about a kinetic art like I am and show you static
pictures but that's the best we can do today so this you could just play in and
it would capture the notes and one of the earliest programs is this is a
musical notation that we use for teaching children there is much easier
for them to use than the standard one and this system was its own synthesized
he didn't have to hook one on to it the system was simply fast enough to do
essentially what the synclavier does were 12 real-time parallel voices and
you could just walk and you could be define all of the time which by simply
drawing in on the screen this is a an
animation system that was originally designed by Eric Martin who is here has
done in 1974 and this is as modified by
a child to add feature to and this to
deal with about any objects that large in multiple claims in real time early
planning system showing a resource
allocation this is a non procedural
advantage system particularly like visicalc except we construct diagrams which automatic ones so the system for
instance does not know anything that electrical circuits as we visit cows you
may bind hearing drawings and tell one what they need so if you're used as a
calcio tell the resistors your your rulers on law but mother complications
visicalc if they have a deal with very complex apologies and so just the edge cooking a circuit gather will make run
and build a variety of simulates that way we worked without six or seven
hundred children done before 1976 by the way here's a set up in a classroom in
one of the terrazzo school worked with several hundred adults which is good you see the adults to a lot
denser than the and the kids I this is the tea scientist of Xerox Jack Goldman
now what do you say thank you talking of the technology doesn't help
you so much in fact he's out in a managed I'm is not as cool as last night
we're talking about EEG and I see the letters CPR test and coming to my little
she'll be doing something I'd rather have you all on exercycle Tom Lehrer
said that Brinkley and humbly discussing contrapuntal II okay that's enough
housewife that's great the kind of
questions that would be interesting for you as well as us I think would be he's
been getting reflective hips for three
four days and some of them presumably are still festering if the good ones are
and maybe raise questions that come out
of that process the things that you're puzzling about that you would like to
keep puzzling about and you wouldn't mind either both of us puzzling at with
you question right here
[Music] you don't like the expanded challenge
the reinforcement procedure bloody life
a problem that you solved and here's the solution congratulations and the screen
flashes on an off little music plays and then what
well I think the the question is does it
get you close to the Mississippi to remember that poor person that was to
move the big ball up the hill and then down again every day I think that is
that is a metaphor that's been used for a to title loop in the challenge but if
you think of the rewards for learning how to drive a car is not just the
gratification of getting to where you want to go but the challenge of
exploring I think it's a very dull person indeed that just uses their car
to go down to the grocery store they eventually get the idea that they can go
to places that they haven't thought of before and do it and I think that what
Stewart was referring to is something more like what I was saying in the
secondary the effective hit is this reward thing and the reflective thing is
the thing that may not happen in the first few seconds but that as the
emotions start to drain away they'll go very quickly if there isn't something to
hang on they're not hanging on is usually thinking more about it which is
illuminating the challenge a little bit further sure I think it's you can
imagine you know taking Stuart Sasson analogies and imagine me the horrors of
a video game designed to challenge you but you know they they say the Highland
Fling was invented by putting a Scotsman in front of a pay toilet
the typical conflict of interest there I
think that kind of a challenge is not a it's not a good idea how many people
have tried taking shooters one two or three if you're messing with keyboards
at all it's one of the quickest change
your life programs you can hang out with because they have some interesting
elements if not only knows immediately
if you're hitting the right key very
easily you begin and we easy to get into exercises but and notices how quickly
you hit feet and gives you a little chart that your left little finger is
still lagging behind the rest doesn't punish you for that in just indication
you know the charge they just call my fingers and it gives you more of the
keys for that finger it knows where
you're slow and in pick you up and my
job you can become a quick typist quick with these programs or circles and I
think so far taking shooters today let's
attack you on the butt no but as soon as
you turn off that program and put in anything else you're typing like a bastard and back patting you on the butt
maybe the question is whether you're the
successful program is challenging you without realizing it the experience of
learning to play tennis can be extremely painful or fairly rewarding and it often
has to do with how judgmental you are as you're going through the thing so the
talents may be something that you're simply looking forward to I thinking and I sort of run music into two classes
there's music that the more you understand about it the more mundane
and there's other musics that the more you understand about it the better
things that opens up it's like learning about the molecular biology of the cell
which is one of the most beautiful stories of all time the more people find
out about the more wonderful it is to experience this and it's that opening up
thing so I think that the media shouldn't be that we shouldn't be
sending the message that this or that is good but the message system that the
media could present is that there's more than one way and it gets better and
those these little ramp functions so I
think let people choose their own tabs and I think it's those little ramp functions that we as designers should be
trying to understand what they are we shouldn't be packaging religions so I
don't think a ramp function is religion it's excitement
Marvin denna coxswain said you can get through your 40s without a plan but you
have to have a plan for 50 and I will be
53 in 10 years so I guess I should start
making a plan so I think the I see the
trick on all of this for I think design
is simply finding a way of reentering
yourself as though you hadn't done
anything before but all that stuff that you've learned is an arsenal that you
can bring to bear after you've gotten the next idea and going out the other
way it's really difficult because the tendency is to use those old ideas as
the form of the new design that's disaster you get trapped into a very
narrow genre so I think that's something that everybody who works creatively and
I think that's most people have to say is how to find those vintage music is
wonderful because you can't run out of it Truman said about Bach's music system or
you understand that the better it is you cannot you cannot die unhappy having
experienced by and that's surely one of the great experiences of the universe
that we live in one that has that kind of richness in it and I think everybody
has a love like that knows what I mean their personal laws that are the most
important things about humanity I think
and yes the hackers made space for
enough for planners [Music]
I'll be 55 and not the snail was getting
larger and larger with a burden of one's own tasks riding around a certain extent
success and this is this either success
or soon to be successful bunch it's
mostly all reward that and I think it's
one of the one of the peculiarities that we see with the personal computer realm
right now and maybe this is true of other aspects of Technology and entertainment is that people like us are
so enormous ly rewarded for being about a half inch in front of what everybody
else is doing that why ever would we be
interested in what's two or three feet in front of what everybody else is doing and so this successful bunch of people
may be more inclined to meteorite and
others who have more commentary or that
we're way out there out of sight not able to know about or come to gatherings
like this and will come through and make a hell of a tale and then you know do it
again I don't know the metaphor may break down but I am aware very much it's
only saying of how much what I have done gets in the way of what I want to do I
had a wonderful afternoon once was
Milton Friedman who I didn't expect to like as much as I did completely coming
in and I asked what was the effect of Nobel prizes not a very original
question on the Nobel Prize winners and he said well you know I wasn't going to
take it but they just given it what's his name the year before who was
a conservative economist and if I hadn't taken it it would have been in the same
salt to him and I didn't want to do that so I took the Nobel Prize and I said
well to get in your way he says I don't know yet but I can tell you generally
that people should change their professions a couple of times and
there's a couple of break points and they said the yours is probably coming
up question
well one of the things I was gonna say
this morning I left it out for time purposes is that there's an interesting progression drawn from source three or
four different sources one one is Piaget who points out that the three major
stages in his development for children
are a bodily conscious phase the hole is too big a visual phase and a symbolic
phase has finally gotten into around 12 each one of them has its own rules of
logic Bruner the psychologist at Harvard showed that those phases are not
sequential but are all going on at the same time and there's a dominant change
because you can switch people who are on the boundary from one to the other and
back again very easily had a large there was a
great mathematician french mathematician that ramp right after World War two did
a famous study called psychologic psychology of invention in the mathematical fields we took the hundred
people he thought were the greatest mathematicians on earth and interviewed
all of them this is when he was about 85 when he did this and of those 100 only
to claim to use mathematical symbology for doing this thing all of them used
visual and about 30 percent of them used muscular sensations Einstein particular
had kinesthetic sensations as he said of the muscular type and so one hand ways
of thinking about that is that creativity is a way of reaching back
maybe back to other evolutionary brains if you believe the three vain idea that
going back through the visual certainly through a loosened set of rules and back
all the way to body knowledge when we teach children how to program and logo
we can get them to draw new things like drawing circles which high schoolers
can't do in basic because their body knows how to draw a circle providing you
in the right coordinate system circles x squared plus y squared equals
R squared which is a bitch for anybody nobody remembers it and it's hard to
write the program but in logo which uses child centered coordinates you close
your eyes inertial coordinate that is
exactly what a circle is the differential equation of the circle is constant curvature just going a little
and turning a little the same than that and so kids body
you can teach five-year-olds a lot of mathematics ask that level you're not
teaching them differential calculus ask the level of mathematical symbols but
you can teach them calculus at the level of their body knowledge if you have a
language that can deal with that and that's why that's in logo it was put in
there specifically for that purpose and again you have these three ways you can
tell somebody you can show them and you can get them to do it I think we all
agree that getting them getting to do it involves you in a much more visceral
fashions like Stewart is saying was a big guy with the pulling the paper out
of the slot there that the I think that the way of approaching this is to try
and teach all three of these cognitive systems and to realize that the oldest
one is the is the one that at least understood and has the most varied
knowledge which is the muscular one it is the one that really deals with navigating around the world we can be
blind and we can still find their way around there's a whole set of body
knowledge and this is really where as benoit mandelbrot said yesterday one of
the one of the things that he did was with there was most critical is to bring
back the visual and I would say even bring back the body in mathematics that
is where all as euler was one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived
said science is what you use after you guess well and in fact he was a
notorious guesser because almost none of his spirit the proof that he supplied
for his feelings were valid but almost all of the theorems were true his PhD
theses for generations exaggerate students of finding the real proofs were
one of Euler's feeling when I don't know
how to answer a question which they don't know how to answer you I generally pointed something I just now pointed at
Alan but something else I would point out is the video disc Emin stration
that's a group on ahead of the talking he has the four faces that were maybe
not all of you heard the discussion after that where someone asked what was
that work done for and he said I thought everybody knew it was done for the top
of the American chain of command cabinet officers who would succeed each other in
the event of nuclear war and all this
because you can't have all the most people in one place it was him all at once the speaker the
house is somebody will be in charge and they don't want that so you know the
secretary of this match those two different locations underground but they
wanted to be able to communicate each other with each other in a way to preserve that nuance assuming that
nuance might be of the essence if somebody was saying mr. president I
don't think we should bomb them just yet you know not not not really want to sort
of get across as informations you can
indeed be though that then the president
turns is interrupted and looks that the person who's interrupting the acknowledges the interruption and here's
a mouth that's visual it's kinesthetic
it's a lot of things it's pretty important to communication that's been
important question
the secret to whatever success I've had is that by circumstance I've always
treated computer science as a hobby and so I've never you should see me when I
get at the console of an organ I go absolutely rigid was right and yeah I
don't want to fail at that and I've never cared about the computer science
stuff it's always been great fun it's the ideal unification of all the things
I've been interested in all my life and I think that the the question of
intuition is largely two things one it's just less letting them happen because
everybody has them the other one is throwing away almost all of them because
the a good project takes as long as a great wonder and after the I think the
trick is to pick pick and choose ones where the ideas will still be
interesting after you've done those horrible implementations to try them out
and no I don't I think that the I think
everybody a lot when when I was at Parc we had lots of heavy-duty thinkers there
and they really fell into four or five different classes there completely
different ways of looking at there are people there who were unbelievably brilliant so we just deal with
complexity directly Butler Lampson is
certainly one of the smartest people I've ever met in my entire life he talked twice as fast as mine works twice
as fast he remembers twice as much in
just a remarkable remarkable person I'm exact almost exactly the opposite from
from that I like metaphor I like longer
problems like shorter ones so I I think
that I've always thought of our profession as being more like a theatrical repertory company where you
have 20 or 30 people who ultimately get together and do all of the things
there's some people behind the scenes you know obviously the small talk stuff
was not done by find the I thought of the original ideas but I'm
a starter not a finisher I had some fabulous finishers and a lot of the stuff that was done were were original
contribution Larry Tesler for instance who was one of the injectors of the park
culture at Apple is one of the best software designers I know and you could
not in a few words acknowledge his contribution to that or any other five
people so I think of these I don't think of these things there's so much a group
I don't think this is democracy there is no such thing as democracy when you're
doing design don't sit around and take a vote anymore than you do in the theater
but what you have is different contributions that eventually come down
to some kind of image I made the original Dynabook model solely to avoid
having meetings and what it was that we're trying to do and went out and got
a picture frame it was about the right size and I faked what the display would
look like and I just put it up on the wall and whenever anybody wanted to know
what we're doing I just pointed at it that whatever no just go for it
and I only hired people that absolutely went nuts when I would wave this thing
in front of a meeting they come up with stars in their eyes and we've invited him for the summer and because we didn't
have a strong definition of it except that this wasn't a computer this was a
channel an amplifier there's all these things and we knew how we were going to
preliminary deal with it but not ultimately see one of the thing about
paper fact we even tested out the dining bus to see you could hit a ball with it
one of the things about pay for all these wonderful things like paper airplanes you could do and we even
thought of an edible Dynabook there's one of the great ways of getting rid of
this technology if they just make it edible you could eat your IBM PC before
it got stale [Music]
yeah the that question I'll attempt up how do
you inspire instruct improve intuition if it's at all possible one way if you
don't have it is to hire it if you know doing something the person I use most in
this regard is character named Gregory Bateson who was a scientist sort of but
he had a intuition of an elephant I just
completely larger than the man and wrote largely from that intuition in the
interview I did with him once I asked how he did a paper this again comes to
the planning question he said I take a subject that I don't understand and why
it is that way and I wrestle with it and that wrestling is the paper
he always had a enormous respect
you know it comes up how do you inspire and struck improve intuition at all cost
but one way if you don't have it as a higher risk if you're you know doing
something the person I use most in this
regard is a character named Gregory Bateson who was a scientist sort of but
he had a the intuition of an elephant I just completely larger than the man and
wrote largely from that intuition and interview I did with him once I asked
how he did a paper this again comes to
the planning question he said I take a subject that I don't understand and why
it is that way and I wrestle with it and that wrestling is the paper
yaagh had a enormous respect