Danny Hillis on Applied Minds


Danny Hillis (click to enlarge)

Danny Hillis (who founded Thing Machines, the Long Now, and lots of other cool stuff) is speaking about his current business: Applied Minds, which he calls a "maketank" as opposed to a thinktank. I like that term. That's a good description of what Computer Science labs ought to be like. He's showing videos of robots "not because that's a big part of what we do, but because it makes for a good show" that are really cool.

He's showing a picture of an ultimate vehicle hack. He says they do things like that as bait to get companies to come talk to them. What's your bait?

He's showing a map table that gives the feel of a paper map, but with all the properties of a large paper map (except that its infinite). He also has a table that physically deforms to show the contours of maps that are displayed on it.

Hillis model of the metaweb (click to enlarge)

If you look at how a blog or wiki work, the model is that contributers put things in a database and the publisher has a recipe for how to show the data. The problem with this model is that all the databases are islands--not shared. He proposes a new twist with a shared database and recipes. This is, in a way, the idea behind data in XML on the Web. He's calling this sharing and rendering of public databases as the "metaweb."