Rheingold 10, Gates 0,
Howard Rheingold, former Editor of the Whole Earth Review and one of the pure-gold original thinkers in the Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelly circle, lays down a serious challange to both decisionmakers and software producers that has yet to be fully understood. Originally published in 1985, this book was a “must read” at the highest levels of advanced information processing circles then, but sadly its brilliant and coherent message has yet to take hold–largely because bureaucratic budgets and office politics are major obstacles to implementing new models where the focus is on empowering the employee rather than crunching financial numbers.
This book is a foundation reading for understanding why the software Bill Gates produces (and the Application Program Interfaces he persists in concealing) will never achieve the objectives that Howard and others believe are within our grasp–a desktop toolkit that not only produces multi-media documents without crashing ten times a day, but one that includes modeling & simulation, structured argument analysis, interactive search and retrieval of the deep web as well as commercial online systems, and geospatially-based heterogeneous data set visualization–and more–the desktop toolkit that emerges logically from Howard’s vision must include easy clustering and linking of related data across sets, statistical analysis to reveal anomalies and identify trends in data across time, space, and topic, and a range of data conversion, machine language translation, analog video management, and automated data extraction from text and images. How hard can this be? VERY HARD. Why? Because no one is willing to create a railway guage standard in cyberspace that legally mandates the transparency and stability of Application Program Interfaces (API). Rheingold gets it, Gates does not. What a waste!