Research nugget #6: “Personal Dynamic Media”

Article citation: Personal Dynamic Media, Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg, Computer 10(3):31–41. March 1977.
Link to article: http://www.newmediareader.com/book_samples/nmr-26-kay.pdf

This paper includes some revolutionary ideas. In 1970’s computers were viewed mostly as tools for scientists, mathematicians and engineers as a memory storage and devices that rapidly execute computations given by algorithms. Kay and Goldberg envisioned that small computers have also a potential to be a replacement for paper and pencil, used for variety of creative or research activities such as animation, writing poetry, composing music, graphic design, etc. They can be used by business people, doctors, artists, musicians, poets, writers, architects, lawyers, etc. and ,most importantly, by children, who (according to the authors) demand more from the computers than most adults. Unlike other authors, who advocated the idea that time-sharing, Kay and Goldberg were promoting the use of individual small computers. The authors describe a system of overlapping windows that resembles the windows system used first in Apple’s computers that was later adapted by Microsoft. Windows are now the most common operating system used on personal computers.

In some aspects today’s notebooks and tablets surpassed the expectations of Kay and Goldberg’s paper.
These devices are now used as communication devices, cameras, entertainment centers that allow playing and streaming of music and movies and online gaming and much more.

Nugget #1

In the introduction the authors wrote:

“Imagine having your own self-contained knowledge manipulator in a portable package the size and shape of an ordinary notebook. Suppose it had enough power to outrace your senses of sight and hearing, enough capacity to store for later retrieval thousands of page-equivalents of reference materials, poems, letters, recipes, records, drawings, animations, musical scores, waveforms, dynamic simulations, and anything else you would like to remember and change. We envision a device as small and portable as possible which could both take in and give out information in quantities approaching that of human sensory systems. Visual output should be, at the least, of higher quality than what can be obtained from newsprint. Audio output should adhere to similar high fidelity standards. There should be no discernible pause between cause and effect. One of the metaphors we used when designing such a system was that of a musical instrument, such as a flute, which is owned by its user and responds instantly and consistently to its owner’s wishes. Imagine the absurdity of a one-second delay between blowing a note and hearing it!”

I am using tablet every day to to plan my appointments with clients, I use it to do online purchases for my business, I use it as a GPS to find my clients houses. I also use it do research about newest makeup trends. So that is where this paper, which essentially describes a device similar to a tablet, intersects with my research about makeup.

One thought on “Research nugget #6: “Personal Dynamic Media””

  1. The amount of technological advances that had been predicted and have come true is something that always fascinates me. For scholars of previous generations to predict such advancements, and the continued advancement of technology today only shows that we are far from over in what is possible to be created in the digital world, and all other categories as well.

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