William English, one of the creators of the mouse back in the 60s, passed away last week. And that got me thinking of how amazing it would have been to be in the place that was inventing what would become modern computing interfaces. What a special time! Of course, they probably had no idea.
From here, it looks like the mouse changed everything, but you have to realize that they were working in a world with light-pens, where you could actually draw on the screen. In contrast, the mouse seems positively non-futuristic. They must have known they’d come up with an improvement over the status quo, but did they know they’d created a revolution?
So where has the revolutionary spirit in DIY human interface devices gone? I’d claim it’s still alive and kicking. Indeed our own Kristina Panos has a series called “Inputs of Interest” and we’ve seen a ton of DIY keyboards of late. Then there are many varieties of dial inputs. I used to have a dedicated scroll wheel made out of a hard-drive platter, and when I was reading lots of PDFs on-screen, I have to say it earned its desk-space. Heck, we’ve even seen people make their own mouse.
But what I love about the story of the development of the mouse is that they asked the question “what is the best way to locate a point on a screen” and tried to answer it. Half of their success is probably in simply asking the right question, and the other half in prototyping something half-workable. My gut says that we don’t have inputs figured out 100% on mobile yet. This sounds like a job for Hackaday. What’s the next big human-interface design need? And have you got any crazy ideas to solve it?
And this week, we announced the Hackaday Remoticon, our shelter-in-place version of the Supercon. It’s going to take place in November as usual, but online instead of IRL.
The good news? It’s going to be chock full of workshops, all streamed online and recorded for posterity. And for that we need your proposals. If you’d like to teach a group of distributed hackers learning your favorite techniques and tricks, this is your chance!
The bad news is of course that we won’t get to see you all in person. That’s going to make the 2021 Hackaday Supercon seem even more super.