Yale computer scientist David Gelernter sketches, on a napkin, the future of everything:
I sketched almost the exact same thing on a napkin one Saturday night 35 years ago while listening to a Country Joe and the Fish album.
Gelernter also verbalizes the concept in a Wired piece:
By adding together every timestream on the net — including the private lifestreams that are just beginning to emerge — into a single flood of data, we get the worldstream: a way to picture the cybersphere as a whole. … Instead of today’s static web, information will flow constantly and steadily through the worldstream into the past. … What people really want is to tune in to information. Since many millions of separate lifestreams will exist in the cybersphere soon, our basic software will be the stream-browser: like today’s browsers, but designed to add, subtract, and navigate streams. … Stream-browsers will help us tune in to the information we want by implementing a type of custom-coffee blender: We’re offered thousands of different stream “flavors,” we choose the flavors we want, and the blender mixes our streams to order.
Jamba Juice + Starbucks + SiriusXM = Future of Culture
Once you get past the mumbo-jumbo, this all sounds like old news. “Today’s static web”? The stream replaced the page as the web’s dominant metaphor a few years ago. Gelernter’s vision is the Zuckerbergian personal-timeline view of the web, in which every person sits at the center of his or her own little cyber-universe as swirls of custom-fit information stream in and then turn into “the past.” And it’s the Google Now “search without searching” vision of continuous, preemptive delivery of relevant info. “Finally, the web — soon to become the cybersphere — will no longer resemble a chaotic cobweb,” concludes Gelernter. “Instead, billions of users will spin their own tales, which will merge seamlessly into an ongoing, endless narrative” — all funneled through “the same interface.” It’s not so much post-web as anti-web. Imagine Whitman’s “Song of Myself” as a media production, with tracking and ads.
This post is an installment in Rough Type’s ongoing series “The Realtime Chronicles,” which began here.