Ambitious Documentary Explores Computing and the Human Experience

Kickstarter/Video screen capture

There is an ambitious, and rather spectacular project going on that is trying to tell the story of humankind today, and how we got here. No, it's not about the evolution of the species as you might think it to be -- when we learned to use fire, or tools, or agriculture. But it is a story about the way humans have shaped the world as we know it, and our species, with computing.

The project is lead by Grady Booch, an IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist at IBM Research. Booch wants to tell the story of computing and humanity -- the story of what roles computing has played in everything from faith to food, from war to weather, from breakthroughs in how we communicate to how we travel. The project is huge and incredibly challenging but equally fascinating.

Just think about it: there is practically nothing you see or do in your daily life that is NOT created, supported, delivered or impacted by computing... That meal you just ate? The typical carrot travels 1600 miles from farm to fork – involving computing that created a healthier seed, the supply chain software that tracked the delivery truck, the intelligent devices embedded in the supermarket refrigerator that kept it fresh for you, the car you drove to pick it up that contains more lines of software code than a jet fighter. Computing has irreversibly changed the human experience.

Indeed, we often note on TreeHugger the ways technology has both improved our lives and caused problems. For example it can help us do everything from track and monitor the health of species, to track and hunt down the last of a species. Technology and computing play intricate and often conflicting roles for the environmental movement, and that is one part of the story Booch can tell within this project that will be a book, a lecture series, and even a television series. But it needs a little Kickstart.

Why Is Computing Important? Because the story of computing is the story of humanity... To explore computing is the 21st Century equivalent of Cousteau exploring the sea, of Hughes exploring modern art, and of Burns exploring the American experience through the Civil War, baseball, and jazz. In just one or two generations – an imperceptible time in the timeless sweep of the universe – we have created a technology that has the power to extend us, to transform us, to define us, perhaps even to destroy us.

And that is why the project is worth backing, and seeing where it takes us and what Booch and his team can teach us about how intertwined we are with computing. The funding will go toward the first part of this project -- getting a book going and gaining traction through lectures, and getting a website launched.

The future of our planet is undeniably linked to computing, because the future of humans is irrevocably linked to computing. So it's about time the whole story is explored and shared.

Tags: Computing | Documentaries | Movies