Ivan Reese

06/29/2023, 9:38 PM
Scientific American — Special Issue, 1991 Communications, Computers and Networks — How to Work, Play and Thrive in Cyberspace Featuring articles by Tesler, Cerf, Kay, and more. (Requires a free Internet Archive account)
Tesler's article, which begins on page 86, talks about the (then purely hypothetical, today almost realized) future in which computers act as intelligent agents that can perform tasks on your behalf. Here are some excellent example prompts. I've seen something like each of these actually achieved for the first time in the past few years — but not yet free from the supportive scaffolding of a carefully planned demo, and definitely not all within one system.
(Yes, this is all very Knowledge Navigator, I know. What's nice about the article is that you get a bit of Tesler's reflection on how these things ought to be, and why.)
This paragraph began very suddenly and violently ringing and twirling inward around itself, dissolving and recomposing, about 25-30 years after it was written.
Weiser's article, which begins on page 94, is great. It discusses the design of a system of computing devices that scale from wall-sized to pocket-sized, and how they might be used in a collaborative way. It's a fun alternate history, imagining a sort of Dynamicland-like scenario implemented with early 90s technology.
Negroponte's article (p. 106) imagines Macromedia Flash
Kay's article was actually my least favourite of the bunch, though perhaps that because I'm more familiar with his other, longer writings from this period which allow him to go broader and deeper than this little article did. In any event, Kay talks about the role of computers in education, and how the computer must be seen as one of many tools to aid exploration, not a mere deliverer of information or a substitute for teaching.