My friend Alex is a lighting designer. He had an idea for a HyperCard stack he wanted to write, to help him coordinate lighting cues with a script; unfortunately, his PowerBook 140 is no more, so a written script he has to follow manually is the best he can do. To explore the state of citizen coding in 2010, I've implemented Alex's simple idea as many ways as I could, and we've still got a long way to go.
So what happened to HyperCard? Photo editing, music production, page layout and publishing—all these dreams of 1980s computation have evolved and matured into world-class software, while HyperCard and its descendents have languished. We know that there are citizen coders, like Alex, who want to contribute. Why can't they? Does creation not scale?
Computation becomes ever more mainstream, and today we sit at an inflection point: while social networks and devices encourage passive consumption over creativity, we have a unique challenge—and opportunity—to provide tools to help consciously perceive and manipulate our increasingly digital environment. HyperCard's time has nearly come: we are called to widen the reach of code beyond our geek niche.
Citizen coding candidates touched on:
- Cocoa (1990s Apple kids programming environment)
- HyperCard 2.4
- Web HyperCard clones - various
- Quartz Composer
- Squeak eToys
- Novell Visual AppBuilder (1994)
- Prototyping tools - var.
(I'm submitting as a short-form talk, because that's as long as I can imagine my talk being, but this could be a fun long-form workshop as well—do a quick overview & discussion of the problem, split people up into groups, try and get everyone to bang out an idea in some framework they've never seen before, maybe even hash out some concrete ideas for HyperCard 2010.)
1st–4th June 2010