Sep 29 2016

Well I said I’d post more about the Glider Labs reboot this month and I’m about out of time. In lieu of my planned announcement, we’re going to have to settle with this post. I had planned to kill a few birds with one stone with the reboot announcement:

  • Explain where we are going
  • Explain how we intend to do it sustainably
  • Set up financial transparency
  • Announce three new projects

This was too much to finish so quickly. We did announce but the other two projects are not ready to be announced, except to a few friends and colleagues.

Why three projects? I wanted to make it clear that no single project is the focus of Glider Labs. They’d also be different enough to show that it’s bigger than just one kind of project. Although before the reboot you might consider Glider Labs a “DevOps” company, that’s no longer the case even if we still have existing and planned projects that fall into that category.

I should explain some quick background. I started Glider Labs with a friend a few years ago. It started as a sort of lifestyle consulting business, but since it leveraged a lot of my open source work, I was keen on it someday pivoting into a sort of open source R&D lab. Basically a place where I could sustainably do my life’s work and ideally the work of my like-minded, similarly independent friends and colleagues.

It almost didn’t happen, and we almost shut down entirely. Then, somehow the planets aligned and I’d been afforded a chance to shoot for the moon, so to speak.

What I’m going to be doing with Glider Labs is not an easy plan to explain. My first attempt was with what I called Megalith. Unfortunately, it intrigued people but gave no indication of what it was. Almost a year has gone by and I can start to explain it better now, but it’s definitely not down to a soundbite I’m happy with.

I’m pretty sure at this point the core idea is about automation and programmability. I wrote a bit about generativity as an important foundation, and I started to reframe this path as a mission to make the world more programmable. But these are sort of nuanced ideas that aren’t well known, so they don’t make for a great explanation. Just recently, though, it hit me: automation. Not just automation, but systemically democratized automation. That’s what it’s about.

I’d love to try and explain what I mean by that, but this post would quickly get out of control. I will say it’s not about AI, but it can involve AI. It’s not about bots, but involves and powers bots. It’s not about end-user programming, but end-user programming is a subversive part of it. It’s not about devops, but it both relies on and pushes devops further. It’s definitely not about cryptocurrency, but one aspect hugely overlaps with the idea of a DAO. I could go on, but my intention isn’t to throw buzzwords at you, but help convey how deep this goes.

A few people I know that have absorbed enough of it have mentioned how much it echoes of Douglas Engelbart’s work, at least in scope and intention (“augmenting human capability”). I’ve also rather intentionally borrowed a lot of his ideas in approach, most significantly, using the system to build the system (“bootstrapping”).

All this said, it’s easier to build and show than to explain up front, and better to show proof than make lofty sounding promises. That’s why I wanted to at least announce and demo some of the projects with our reboot announcement. However, we’ll just have to wait a bit longer. There’s plenty of time.

So there we are. I didn’t quite achieve what I wanted to with this announcement, but I’m very excited. Over the next … well for the foreseeable future you’ll see more announcements, more details, and over time the plan will reveal itself regardless of what I was able to communicate.

A pattern will emerge.

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