This is going to be an incredible year. If there's anything we needed to get done before the new millennium, this is the last minute, there's no time to wait.
But I expect we'll also do a lot of looking backward. We've started discussing who the person of the millennium is, and this morning I came across a group of thinkers who are discussing the most important invention of the last two millennia.
A summary of nominations. Calculus, hay, anesthesia, computers, the Internet, antibiotics, contraceptives, the spectroscope, the telescope, the theory of evolution, the steam engine, Gˆdel's Incompleteness Theorem, the Hindu-Arabic number system, the scientific method, the printing press, the atom bomb, soap, reading glasses, the human ego.
But wait, there's more! Clocks, television, discovery of the unconscious, awareness of the universe, commercialization of electricity, secularism, the eraser, telecommunications, education, automobiles, the symphony orchestra, board games, double-entry accounting, the Gatling gun, the mirror, the number zero, sewers, probability theory, democracy, the airplane.
Congratulations to John Brockman and the people at edge.org. This is an incredible source of new thoughts. I highly recommend it to DaveNet readers.
Here are some of the things I hope to work on this year.
Mainly, I want to create a cross-platform writing environment that has the best features of the desktop and the Internet. I want to be able to jot a note on my website using a palmtop computer, and I want to write stories and specs from a laptop, and I want to install server software on machines running behind the more prevalent high-bandwidth fulltime net connected computers and popular desktop OSes such as Windows and Mac.
I see a bandwidth gap that needs software to fill it. The interface between web writing tools and web storage is still very low-level and cumbersome. We're going to challenge the assumption that web writing requires technical expertise. We want to deliver tools to the technical types and designers to create inverse portals for writers, places for ideas to appear and then develop, to flow in from all areas and flow out to all interested readers.
Further, we've noticed that the web has two primary interfaces: Time and Searching. I can't find another that works as well as either of these two. So we're integrating, assuming, verticalizing. When you can make assumptions, as a software designer, you can simplify. And that's what the web needs, simplification. And that's what we can deliver.
I also hope for a more adult Internet. Sites like www.edge.org show what can be done when there's moderation and thoughtfulness and a little bit of editing. We can learn from each other. The world is not filled with bullshit. There are interesting new ideas, and new perspectives on old ideas.
But it takes calm thoughtful expression to get ideas heard. That's the number one item on my to-do list for the web for 1999, to help more of that to happen, and to support it when it does.