Talk: What can a time capsule from 1967 tell us about building digital experiences in 2024?

Draft proposal for a talk under development that can be adapted for different audiences and software/technical/product contexts and events.

In 1967 Thomas H. Crowley compiled his lecture notes from an "Understanding Computers" course he taught at the Union County, New Jersey, Regional Adult School into a 135-page book of the same name. It sold over 100,000 copies but eventually faded into the mists of time.

Crowley went on to have an illustrious career at Bell Labs, involved in developing and marketing UNIX, retiring in 1985. He was awarded several patents and received the U.S. Army's Outstanding Civilian Service Award for his work as executive director of the Safeguard anti-ballistic missile system software.

I received a copy of this book in 2005 from a client and have held on to it since. The first eleven chapters are straightforward topics like "5. Memory" and "7. Symbol Processing Operations" -- however, the final three chapters make up a fascinating time capsule of his thoughts at the time:

12. Computer 'Priests'
13. What Does the Future Hold?
14. 1984?

With our industry undergoing yet another step-change in how computers interact with us, and we with them -- from the individual to the nation-state -- and the moral and ethical questions this presents, it is time to revisit this wisdom from the past.