“I missed the mark with HyperCard,” Atkinson lamented. “I grew up in a box-centric culture at Apple. If I’d grown up in a network-centric culture, like Sun, HyperCard might have been the first Web browser.
Bill Atkinson‘s words on HyperCard and what could have been are kind of sad in a way. But Bill is a genius by any measure of Computer Science and programming ability. Without QuickDraw, the Mac would not have been much of a graphical experience for those attempting to write software for the Mac. Bill’s drawing routines took advantage of all the assembly language routines available on the old Motorola 68000 chip and eked out every last bit of performance to make the Mac what it was in the end; Insanely Great.
I write this in reference also to my experience of learning and working with HyperCard. It acts as the opening parenthesis to my last 16 years working for my current employer. Educational Technology has existed in various forms going all the way back to 1987 when Steve Jobs was attempting to get Universities to buy Macs and create great software to run on those same computers. There was an untapped well of creativity and energy that Higher Education represented and Jobs tried to get the Macintosh computer in any school that would listen.
The period is long since gone. The idea of educational software, interactive hypermedia, CD-ROMs all gone the way of the web and mobile devices. It’s a whole new world now, and the computer of choice is the mobile phone you pick-up on 2 year contract to some telecom carrier. That’s the reality. So now designers and technologists are having to change to a “mobile first” philosophy and let all other platforms and form factors follow that design philosophy. And it makes sense as desktop computer sales still erode a few percentage points each year. It’s just a matter of time before we reach peak Desktops. It’s likely already happened, we just haven’t accepted it as gospel.
Every technology is a stepping stone or shoulder to stand on leading to the next stepping stone. Evolutionary steps are the rule of the day. Revolution has passed us by. We’re in for the long slog, putting things into production making them do useful work. Who has time to play and discover when everyone has a pre-conceived notion of the brand device and use it will serve. I want X to do Y, no time to advise or consult to fit and match things based on their essential quality or essence of what they are good at accomplishing. This is the brand and this is how I’m going to use it. That’s what Educational Technology has become these days.