August 22, 2011
next bold move
Between 1987 and 1994, I designed and built Gravity and Colony, greatly anticipating the World Wide Web (Web 1.0), though my designs went much further, which is why they never took off. They weren’t as simple, as infectious, as the Web, so I sat things out while watching the dot-com gold-rush from the sidelines.
Between 2003 and 2005, we continued my old designs and built Tidepool and Storymill, anticipating what would become Flickr and Facebook (Web 2.0). Again, if we had focused simply on the web-side of things, if we had stayed simple, we could have ridden that great second wave of the Web, though didn’t.
In all these years, there’s been one major piece of my Gravity dreams that still hasn’t caught on, that’s still waiting to make someone a lot of money. For twenty-four years, I’ve called it the “cognitive revolution,” the one that will make Web 1.0 and 2.0 look like a mere prequel to the main event. At it’s core, Gravity was about cognitive agents, little interconnected benevolent leprechauns that did your bidding in surprisingly useful ways.
Starting today, I’m stepping back into the ring to help make Web 3.0, this time building StoryBot™, a general purpose cognitive agent that can be bundled into any desktop or web app. I’ll start by teaching StoryBot about educational resources, which given my Waveplace and Squeakland experiences in the last four years, will hopefully yield some genuine interest and funding. My hope is to help solve the trickiest of problems: flexible, context-driven, educational resource selection and assessment that avoids rubber-stamping our children towards Stepford futures.
I’ve spent years talking about the problem. I’ve spent years thinking about the solution. Now to build it.