TITLE: Computing Future and Computing Past: tilde.club AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: October 29, 2014 3:56 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Administrative and teaching duties have been keeping me busy of late, but I've enjoyed following along with tilde.club, a throwback, shell-based, Unix community started by Paul Ford and blogged about by him on his ~ford page there. tilde.club feels like 1986 to me, or maybe 2036. In one sense, it is much less than today's social networks. In many other ways, it is so much more. The spirit of learning and adventure and connecting are more important there than glitzy interface and data anlytics and posturing for a public that consists of hundreds of Facebook 'friends' and Twitter 'followers'. Ford mentions the trade-off in his long Medium article:
It's not like you can build the next Facebook or Twitter or Google on top of a huge number of Internet-connected Linux servers. Sure, Facebook, Twitter, and Google are built on top of a huge number of loosely connected Linux servers. But you know what I mean.
This project brings to mind a recent interview with writer William Gibson, in which he talks about the future and the past. In particular, this passage expresses a refreshingly different idea of what knowledge from the future would be most interesting -- and useful -- today:
If there were somehow a way for me to get one body of knowledge from the future -- one volume of the great shelf of knowledge of a couple of hundred years from now -- I would want to get a history. I would want to get a history book. I would want to know what they think of us.
I often wonder what the future will think of this era of computing, in which we dream too small and set the bar of achievement too low. We can still see the 1960s and 1970s in our rearview mirror, yet the dreams and accomplishments of that era are forgotten by so many people today -- even computer scientists, who rarely ever think about that time at all. tilde.club is the sort of project that looks backward and yet enables us to look forward. Eliminate as much noise as possible and see what evolves next. I'm curious to see where it goes. -----