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Personal History. In Brief

I was driving one night in the early 90s while at collage in NY. This was at the height of the PC vs Mac wars. I was and am a Mac guy–I’d not be in this field if there was only Windows at the time. I was driving back to my dorm from the Carousel Mall. It was raining and a bolt from the blue struck me and I realised that yes, Windows sucks, but so does Mac! They can BOTH be much improved to help us work and think. I decided to spend the next while, which turned out to be 6 months, to figure what information is, since this is the stuff computers work with. I decided on this definition, having gone through many different disciplines definitions which were not always aligned, and having my father bug me whenever I went too abstract: ‘Information is something which is useful to someone or something at some point in some way’. This is a definition to separate information from noise. I then spent some time developing my personal philosophy of liquid information, which I further worked on with my friend Sarah Walton back in London. The next decades would involve working in advertising, which is what I was studying while in NY, at Syracuse, under Ed Leahy, who is also in the book. I built a web based email service called Liquid Mail which was advanced for its time by having smart views, not folders, a self-emptying inbox and integrated newsfeeds. It got hacked and died.

I also read a book by Howard Rheingold called Tools for Thought which gave me the pre-history of personal computing and it was through this book I learnt about Doug and Ted Nelson, both of whom would be great inspiration and become close friends.

Published inThoughts

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