Skip to main content

jon richter

A tour through a wiki lineup

Get Rich Slowly

Participation within communities on the internet can be richly rewarding. We can protect ourselves from the abuse of get-rich-quick schemes by simply conducting our conversation in a time scale unacceptable to them.

As money moves ever faster it leaves slow thoughtful exchange alone as it is useless to money's purpose.

The thoughtful must leave instant gratification to social-network marketing. The thoughtful must write and trust that they will be read. They must find confirmation in what has been written by others with similar disregard for immediate dialog. They must think independently to be useful to the thoughtful community.


I remain fabulously interested in how the most skillful developers employ the most powerful of computers to make things of lasting value. I am bored by foolish people who get themselves in a pinch by thinking they can cut corners and get away with it forever. There are so many.

Metaphors drawn from life are proving more powerful than those drawn from economics.

The very notion of done now means all of your failures have been externalized. The transaction is complete. Those cut corners are your problem now, sucker.

When I hear talk of done I think of liquidity events. That's when the entrepreneur and his investors take the money and run. But run where? A mansion on the hill? An island paradise?

A wiki is like a garden of knowledge. It deserves to be tended with care. A wiki is not like a stream where we dump stuff and expect it to be gone tomorrow.

A stream turns out to be a poor place to dump stuff too. We now understand this knowing that it won't be gone tomorrow. And likewise the internet is a poor place to dump stuff thinking that its capacity is infinite.


What we once thought of as an engine of vitality is looking increasingly like the engine of death. Entrepreneuring no longer represents any kind of ideal, not because it deploys resources poorly, but because it must destroy its own products to survive.

Natural Genetic Infrastructure

It is conceivable to imagine a future in which this problem of generating the living structure in the world is something that you – computer scientists – might explicitly recognize as part of your responsibility.


What I am proposing here is something a little bit different from that. It is a view of programming as the natural genetic infrastructure of a living world which you/we are capable of creating, managing, making available, and which could then have the result that a living structure in our towns, houses, work places, cities, becomes an attainable thing. That would be remarkable. It would turn the world around, and make living structure the norm once again, throughout society, and make the world worth living in again.

This is an extraordinary vision of the future, in which computers play a fundamental role in making the world -- and above all the built structure of the world -- alive, humane, ecologically profound, and with a deep living structure. I realize that you may be surprised by my conclusion. This is not what I am, technically, supposed to have been talking about to you. Or you may say, Well, great idea, but we're not interested. I hope that is not your reaction. I hope that all of you, as members of a great profession of the future, will decide to help me, and to help yourselves, by taking part in this enormous world-wide effort. I do think you are capable of it. And I do not think any other professional body has quite the ability, or the natural opportunity for influence, to do this job as it must be done.