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Track Changes

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Mar 20, 2018

Can electrical engineers create tangible objects? Do we really need to be writing lines of code in a text-editor to be programming? Is it time for society to redefine what it means to compute? This week, Paul and Rich sit down with Bret Victor to discuss his journey from Electrical Engineer at Caltech, to UI Designer at Apple, to Creator of his ultimate vision, Dynamicland.

The building is a computer; the computer is a building: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down with Bret Victor to talk to about Dynamicland — a non-profit that’s inventing a new computational medium, where people work together with real objects in the real world (not alone with virtual objects on screens). We chat about the tech behind Dynamicland, the importance of creating intentional communities, and how a culture of secrecy at Apple inspired a life-long vision of community computing. Bret also shares a surefire way to impress a date — bring them to GuitarCenter and show them your analog modeling synth!


3:58 — Rich: “The bureaucracy got obliterated; all the machinery that usually slows you down was gone. The parents weren’t home!”

13:14 — Bret: “I came in the first day, went ot my desk and there was an iPad sitting on my desk. This was 2007. The iPhone just had been released. The iPad was not a thing at all… and I said ‘what is this?’ and my boss said ‘well we don’t know, Steve wants a tablet’.”

16:03 — Bret: “I was starting to see that my values and Apple’s values were a bit at odds. Apple ultimately wants to enable people to listen to their music, and read their email, and watch videos, and have an entertaining digital experience. I wanted to enable people to understand things more deeply or create amazing things that they couldn’t create before.”

22:08 — Bret: “It’s hard to have the level of motivation to pull off something really huge like that, if you don’t have the right support structures in place.”

22:08 — Bret: “We want to create a medium that works for all people. So growing our community, we’ve been pretty deliberate about reaching out to people who aren’t on Twitter and who aren’t traditionally advantaged by technology.”

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Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

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