No screens, no devices. Just ordinary physical materials —
paper and clay, tokens and toy cars — brought to life by
technology in the ceiling.
Every scrap of paper has the capabilities of a full computer,
while remaining a fully-functional scrap of paper.
Dynamicland is a computer where people literally work together,
face-to-face, with eye contact and many hands. It's as multiplayer
as the real world.
A humane dynamic medium gently leads people down a path
from playing, to crafting, to remixing, to programming.
Dynamicland is an authoring environment, and everyone is an author.
People make what they need for themselves. They learn through immersion.
The true power of the dynamic medium — programmability — is for everyone.
A humane dynamic medium embraces the countless
ways in which human beings use their minds and bodies,
instead of cramming people into a tiny box of pixels.
One guest, after spending time at Dynamicland, held up
his smartphone and shouted, “This thing is a prison!”
If the dynamic medium is to serve as the foundation for new modes of thought and communication, it must lift all people, not just those traditionally advantaged by technology. There is no product we can ship to achieve this goal.
Instead, we are building Dynamicland as a community space, where the people of Oakland will come to “live in the future” and shape the medium with us. We are actively drawing our community from a diverse set of people, with a focus on those who are underserved or alienated by current forms of computing.
This community space is a model for a new kind of civic institution —
a public library for 21st-century literacy.
Writing and print transformed humanity. Computing will have as great an effect. What will be the shape of this transformation?
Will it lift all people, or widen the gap? Give people agency, or give them products to consume? Bring people together, or isolate them? Deepen people's connection to their bodies, their hands, and the real world we all depend on? Or abstract human beings into pixels and database entries?
The time to decide is now.
Some projects are bigger than companies. The Internet, for example, could never have happened as a consumer product. The Internet was incubated in a non-commercial research culture for decades. By the time a trillion-dollar industry grew around it, a set of core values (decentralization, equal access for all) were embedded in the core protocols, and are still recognized today as ideals worth fighting for.
This is our model.
The fundamental research that gave rise to personal computing and the Internet was made possible by adequate funding, via federal agencies and industrial laboratories. The global wealth subsequently generated by these inventions has been astronomical.
Fundamental research is now in a time of extreme scarcity. Industry continues to exploit the inventions of the past, not plant the seeds for a humane future. Government and foundation grants prefer low-risk incremental work. Just keeping our tiny group alive has been a constant desperate struggle.
Dynamicland exists, barely, due to the foresight of a small handful of visionary donors and corporations. If you'd like to become a visionary funder and meaningfully enable our progress toward the humane future, please get in touch.