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Simplicity, Power, Elegance: The Birth Of Beautiful Technology

Simplicity, Power, Elegance: The Birth Of Beautiful Technology

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Published by MagisterV
An essay on the book: "Machine Beauty," by David Gelernter, on the aesthetics of computers and technology.
An essay on the book: "Machine Beauty," by David Gelernter, on the aesthetics of computers and technology.

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Published by: MagisterV on May 10, 2008
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06/14/2009

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Simplicity, Power, and Elegance:The Birth of Beautiful Technology
Valentino Ulysses StollNovember 26, 2002
 
When something is beautiful, it is difficult to explain why. It is a feeling thatsimply overwhelms the body with a sense of complete satisfaction and utter amazement.In the book,
Machine Beauty
, by David Gelernter, the creation of both computers, andtechnology in general, is redefined through aesthetics. “Great technology is beautifultechnology.”(132) David Gelernter describes the evolution of the personal computer andthe
ugliness
of its outcome. This
ugliness
is primarily defined by the triumph of Microsoft over Apple; or, as described by David Gelernter, as a triumph of manlinessover beauty. It is this very triumph that has driven him to thrive in teaching the worldalternatives. The creation of 
 Lifestreams
, in which Gelernter plays a major role, is anidea in the making to expand the minds of today’s computer world; to show people thereare alternatives. Although it has its faults, it is still a step in the right direction; a steptoward a better understanding of the world of computers, technology, and society.Without the aid of art, this step cannot be taken.Former graduate and now professor of Yale University, David Gelernter, hasrevolutionized the way technology should be viewed. His brilliant analysis of the truthunderlying technology shows a new meaning of the futuristic computer age, and thatwhich led up to it. Upon his quest to beautify computers, David and a fellow colleague, Nicholas Carriero, created a
coordination language
 —Linda—which simplifies problemsin a powerful manner using a method called
tuple space
. “A
coordination language
issoftware glue that allows programmers to build
 software ensembles— 
collections of manyseparate programs all working together on the same problem.”(95) Linda is a very timeefficient device that is uses “teamwork” of many computers working together to completeone task. Using the basic principle of cyberstructures created in the process of Linda’s
 
development, David Gelernter and several colleagues have expanded, and work to create,an alternative to the contemporary desktop. Lifestream is basically a timeline of your information stored in
tuple space
and run though cyberstructures. This idea will soonlead the way to the future of new, and hopefully, beautiful alternatives. Aside from his brilliance in the field of computer science, David Gelernter has acquired a quite prestigious role in journalism. He has contributed greatly to the literate community withseveral books to spread his ideas and knowledge. One of which contributed to hissurvival of the Unabomber.In the fight for popularity, beauty seems to be the least important. The failure of the Mac still continues to bewilder those of the computer world. Mac’s failure was thecause-and-effect of poor marketing and misjudgment. Aside from Microsoft’s automaticlead in the war for popularity from it’s pre-distribution of DOS machines, it seems thatMicrosoft would fail the simple beauty held by Apple’s design. “It has many flaws and isa long way from
 great 
art, but Apple's desktop is modestly beautiful beyond question....”(35). Macintosh could have improved their marketing and advertising to better show both the public and business worlds, how much more efficient and structurally developedtheir product was. Basically, the popularity and triumph was held in the hands of the business world. The computer had just begun an uprising of virtual filing and storage.The so called “computer age” was in its elementary prime in what would soon be a quick  jolt to the future. Companies thus relied on “computer experts” to decide on whichsystem would best provide the solution for the companies needs. At the time, mostcomputer experts were very unimpressed with the new system presented by Macintosh.Thus the computer experts, for the most part, decided Microsoft was a better choice. In

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