I enjoyed Ward Cunnigham’s video tour of his office “wiki space,” which is reconfigurable by the people who work there with all desks on rollers.  At the end he describes wiki as a phillosophy rather than the technology it is today… maybe wikis need to transform into something that will enable a community to develop software.

I’m seeing some trends that I expect will meet in the middle in the next twenty years or so.  Dynamic languages are becoming fast enough that they can be widely used for practical and sophisticated programming, most notably javascript and ruby.  The facility of these programming languages to enable fast development of applications is made even faster by the move toward open source — more often we can avoid rewriting the well-understood, and can focus on the innovative.  Additionally, web application are commonly publishing APIs that edge us closer to the semantic web that folks have been talking about since before HTTP was invented.

Today we’re seeing hints of what is to come with Yahoo Pipes, Dabble DB and the recently released Wolfram Alpha — these are tools that let you piece together disparate data sources to answer a question without developing a traditional software application. Brian Boyer writes about scholarships available to coders who want to go to jouralism school.  He notes that just recently, software won a Pulitzer Prize: PolitiFact is a form of news that could exist only recently.

Computers are only now getting fast enough and smart enough and interconnected enough so that we can use them as effective tools for gaining wisdom, not just collecting data.  It will take a while for such tools to become ubiquitous, and even longer for a generation to grow up who feels entitled to answers to their questions, and who are adept at using these tools that feel tangible, yet act like programming languages.  I love watching it happen.

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