I have been a long time fanatic of Bret’s work, so when I heard he was coming to speak at Harvard I felt like it was the best opportunity to invite him to MIT again (his last visit was in 2014).
The talk was centered around Dynamicland, Bret’s newly launched project. It was a wonderful talk full of things to unpack, some of them I’m trying to note down in the points below.
He talked a lot about community and community building - the project as essentially an “incubator” for a new type of computation (he calls it “embodied computation”). He insists on having a space that physically brings people together, and has them interact in ways that make them touch physical things, move them around etc.
His plan is to create a number of DynamicLands across the country, kind of like libraries. Again, the accent is on the community. He insisted on training people himself before they went on to create chapters of Dynamicland across the world. He sees it (I think) as a “student-apprentice” type of relation, and he doesn’t believe someone can properly carry the culture behind the project if they don’t spend time with the rest of the team.
One great highlight from the audience’s questions: there was a slightly crazy looking lady who apparently is known to the Lab community who was chattering to her friend loudly throughout the talk, and then asked Bret “in one photo, I saw a child playing with a card on which the number was projected upside down. This is a bug!” and Bret’s answer was “no, the child should learn how to turn that card so that the number is facing the correct way, its not very difficult”. I thought that was a beautiful answer.
I am extremely happy to have met him in person and showed him around the Lab - now patiently waiting an opportunity for a trip to SF to arise :)