Notes on “Computer Lib/Dream Machines”


Some random notes from Ted Nelson’s 1974 book Computer Lib/Dream Machines:

  • “Computing has always been personal. By this I mean that if you weren’t intensely involved in it, sometimes with every fiber in your mind twitch, you weren’t doing computers, you were just a user.” (Computer Lib, page 3)
  • “People talk about the “depersonalization” of computers. I want to emphasize the personalization of computers – that they, their programs, and languages, are designed by individuals, each with his or her own obsessions.” (Computer Lib, page 4)
  • Mentions Ken Knowlton’s On the Frustrations of Collaborating with Artists – A Programmer’s Reflections (Computer Lib, page 399)
  • “When you first sit at a computer terminal, the feeling is one of sheer terror. Sweat and chills, jumpiness and sudden clumsy nervous motions, lunatic absentmindedness, and stammering fear and awkwardness interfere with your ability to function or understand the person who is helping you. It’s perfectly normal.” (Dream Machines, page 11)
  • “The computer display will be mankind’s new home.” (Dream Machines, page 13)

Every OUI

Every registered Organizationally Unique Identifier (OUI), used in networked hardware and included in a device’s MAC address. List via:

Read the full list of 16k OUIs here:

Mission Control Depth

Apple’s “Mission Control” can be activated by swiping three fingers upward to shrink the current windows, allowing easier viewing of what you have open. But what if it wasn’t shrinking, but moving backwards in three-dimensional space? Sort of like this:

Linear perspective, following Euclidean geometry, lets us calculate the distance of an object based on its actual and apparent heights. With a few screenshots we can get the measurements.

A full-sized window on my laptop measures:
1746 pixels high @ 144 ppi (12.125 inches)


In Mission Control view, it measures:
1034 pixels high @ 144 ppi (7.181 inches)


Now, using this formula:

d = h*a

h = apparent height
a = actual height of object
d = distance

And given our measurements, we can calculate the Mission Control depth:
d = 7.181 * 12.125 = ~87" = ~7'3" (or about 2.2 meters)

Or about like this: