The origin stories of JS and wikis
Monday, December 14, 2015 by Dave Winer

If you want to get an idea of how JavaScript came to be, listen to this great interview with Brendan Eich, the guy who created it. It's fascinating. I learned that we came close to crossing paths in Palo Alto in the 80s, several times. And this hour-long podcast just scratched the surface. There's obviously a lot more to the story than can be covered in an hour interview.

I also spent two days with Ward Cunningham, the inventor of the Wiki, last summer, in Portland. The way he bootstrapped the wiki is very much the same way we bootstrapped blogging, at the same time. Why did we wait until 2015 to spend time together? We could have been helping each other all along.

This makes me think, how can we do better? 

Here we are, the generation that brought networking to the world, but we're so bad at networking on a human scale. Like the shoes of the cobbler's kids. We were so busy creating networks, we forgot to create one for ourselves. 

The problem may be with the gatekeepers. Or the art is still too young to have the institutions that are needed to connect people. One thing was really impressive was how much the younger people who were interviewing Eich were soaking it up. And why not! Technology comes in layers. We're still using the layers that were created in the 70s, 80s and 90s, even though it's buried under the interfaces of the 00s and 10s. And the human embodiment of those layers, people like Cunningham and Eich, are still alive and kicking and creating new stuff.

Neither of them are famous for making billions, so the press doesn't pay much attention. But great art and money don't always mix. JavaScript, no matter what you think about it, is hugely influential, as are wikis. And the ideas that went into their creation are universal. Creative developers will be learning from their work for generations to come.

I think perhaps we need to start with something like Inside the Actors Studio. One-on-one interviews with the key creative people who built today's networking world. And while we're at it, let's have some Actors Studios too!