The Feyerabend Project

An Invitation to Redefine Computing

Presented to you by Richard P. Gabriel

Fifty years into the First Computing Era some of us in the computing arena have come to realize we’ve made a false start that can’t be fixed, and for us to finally be able to produce lasting, correct, beautiful, usable, scalable, enjoyable software that stands the tests of time and moral human endeavor, we need to start over. Perhaps we’ll be able to salvage some of what we’ve learned from the First Era, but I expect almost everything except the most mathematical fundamentals to be brushed aside.

I am putting together the most diverse group of 75 people possible in a remote but subtly beautiful locale, facilitated by MG Taylor to reinvent computing. The result of the 2-week event will be the first steps for a roadmap for massive rebuilding of computing - both as a theoretical endeavor and as a practice - and for the plan to accomplish it. The reinvented New Hillside Group will form the core of the rebuilding effort.

The year 2000 is a particularly fertile grey zone - it is the year that some firmly believe is in the 20th century and others believe is in the 21st; some place it in the second millennium, others in the third. It is not clearly in either century or millennium - and it is a time out of time, a place without place, whose inescapable imperatives can wander beyond fixed prior thinking. It is a time in which we can stand apart and that will never be fixed as one place or as one time.

Polemic in Support of the Proposed Effort

In recent years some have come to realize that the following basic assumptions and historical accidents behind today’s computing theory and practice have created harm beyond repair:

Program of Effort

Seventy-five people will be chosen from all walks of life and human endeavor. Some individuals in the group will be brilliant, others less so. The handicapped, hopeful, and full in heart will be invited. Prospective members of the New Hillside Group will be invited. This combined group will meet for 2 weeks in early August 2000 in Kamchatka near the Valley of Geysers. Under the guidance of Matt and Gail Taylor, we will lay out the requirements and directions for computing in the Second Era. Every aspect of computing will be wiped off the table and we’ll start fresh. The disturbingly different and challenging backdrop of Kamchatka will be our muse along with the deepest parts of the human spirit. Days will be unbearably long, and the stakes frightening. Reinvention of this order has never been done before.

For one year after the event, the prospective members of the New Hillside Group will create a narrative that will guide the emergence of the Second Era. Though every part of it may fall by the wayside as its creation unfolds - indeed as those parts must fall away by the needs of that very document - this narrative will remain the masterpiece of human creation for the next 100 years.

Who will become the founding members of the New Hillside Group?

The Invitation, Plainly Stated

I have chosen you; please join us.