Computing is Pop Culture without History

Binstock: You seem fastidious about always giving people credit for their work.

Kay: Well, I'm an old-fashioned guy. And I also happen to believe in history. The lack of interest, the disdain for history is what makes computing not-quite-a-field.

Binstock: You once referred to computing as pop culture.

Kay: It is. Complete pop culture. I'm not against pop culture. Developed music, for instance, needs a pop culture. There's a tendency to over-develop. Brahms and Dvorak needed gypsy music badly by the end of the 19th century. The big problem with our culture is that it's being dominated, because the electronic media we have is so much better suited for transmitting pop-culture content than it is for high-culture content. I consider jazz to be a developed part of high culture. Anything that's been worked on and developed and you [can] go to the next couple levels.

Binstock: One thing about jazz aficionados is that they take deep pleasure in knowing the history of jazz.

Kay: Yes! Classical music is like that, too. But pop culture holds a disdain for history. Pop culture is all about identity and feeling like you're participating. It has nothing to do with cooperation, the past or the future — it's living in the present. I think the same is true of most people who write code for money. They have no idea where [their culture came from] — and the Internet was done so well that most people think of it as a natural resource like the Pacific Ocean, rather than something that was man-made. When was the last time a technology with a scale like that was so error-free? The Web, in comparison, is a joke. The Web was done by amateurs.

Notes:

Folksonomies: computing computer science

 Interview with Alan Kay
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Binstock, Alan (2012/07/10), Interview with Alan Kay, Retrieved on 2021-01-28
  • Source Material [web.archive.org]
  • Folksonomies: computing history of computing