[General] a peculiar lively interview

Peter Fraser pfraser at spatialmedia.com
Fri Oct 30 15:54:37 CET 2009

It was great to see an update on LK last week, because a news vacuum 
tends to get filled by all kinds of nonsense. For example; I don't know 
what to make of this interview (transcript follows). The interviewer, 
who seems to be mad, insists on calling his guest Dan, but he is clearly 
not talking to Dan Ingalls.

The frustrating thing, is that every time it looks like they are going 
to discuss anything interesting (liveliness on the 3D web, the parallel 
'revolution', ajax & IE prognosis) , somehow they don't.

Frankly, I'm starting to wonder if it is some kind of hoax. 

Pete F  (gerbil)

[Transcript of  "The Pod People Show".  Episode 7201 follows..]

PP. [sponsor's messages deleted] And today we have Dan Pringles on the 
line. So Dan  -I hear that in the 70s you just hung out at the park 
working on your Kung Fu moves, till you invented the BlackBelt..
Dan: Ummm -are you talking about bitblt? Do you have me confused 

PP: Blipblip -right. That's what I said. So Dan, have you ever had to 
kill a man with your hands?

Dan: Not yet.

PP: Damm! So now you're working with this Lively Colonel dude -who is 
he? I bet he kicks butt.

Dan: Well its certainly been exciting. The Lively Kernel is our attempt 
to implement a general computing platform in a web browser.

PP: A General?  I thought he was a Colonel? So he like busted out of an 
enemy POW camp,  kicked an incredible amount of butt and got promoted?  

Dan: Its just a web page. Try googling for lively kernel.

PP: Oh right, sure. google lively.

Dan: No, Google Lively was something else..

PP: But you just told me, google lively. Ah you playing with my head? 
Ohhh right! Some kind of ninja mind control thing? Wax on wax off?

Dan: Google Lively is a lively world that seems to be dead   -we are 
doing something else.

PP: Well i bet they were pissed you stole their name

Dan: Well actually, Google announced lively well after the lively kernel 
was released.

PP: The Colonel was released? I thought he escaped.

Dan: Never mind. Perhaps I should talk a bit about our take on lively 
world's like Second Life. After all, an always running environment, 
which is engaging and concrete, and sufficiently lively to get 
non-programmers programming   -is very much what we have been always had 
in mind. So you might be surprised that we have chosen to work on 
livliness on the 2D web. Perhaps I could talk about our take on 3D 
liveliness ,  the "3D web", and also our anticipation of 3D support in 

PP: Well you could Dan, but I see that we have some questions from our 
forum. Jason asks: "are you guys even serious  -what kind of ajax 
doesn't run on IE?"

Dan: Well we don't really think of Lively Kernel as an ajax framework. 
If we were feeling devilish we might even say something like "if ajax 
wants to grow up from some cunning shims and hacks, to a real platform  
-well the kind of generality that lively is all about, is what it takes  
-and if that means letting go of IE or using plugins, well....". 

    [laughs] Actually -we've actually been doing some experiments with 
IE, and have concluded that [interupted]..

PP: Now can I just jump in here Dan  -I think I can take this one for 
you. So Ajax  -that's the dude's name then? That name rocks!   Well 
Jason, I can tell you that Colonel Ajax does't *run* anywhere. He stands 
and fights. Lock and load soldier.

Dan: Perhaps Jason would be interested in our RIA work on Java -and our 
decision to not use Batik, especially in light of our move away from SVG 
towards Canvas on browsers.

A. Did you catch that Jason? Colonel Ajax is MIA in Java, raining down 
RPG fire on enemy canvas. Fire in the hole. There's boageys inside the 

Dan: That's not quite what I said.

PP. I've got your back Dan. Plausible deniability. Here's Jason again  
-and it sounds like Jason likes the MIA thing cause he says here; "great 
-it has always seemed to me that Lively's timing is off  -Java and 
Silverlight seem to offer far more scope for building a serious platform 
than ajax. Why bother with browsers at at all when the RIA platforms are 
running away with the richest interactive content".

Dammit Jason, what is it with you and running away?

Dan: Well you know its funny. You can talk about ajax vs ria  -but you 
can also just talk about simplicity and generality. The net neutrality 
people like to say "fat pipes, always on  -get out of the way"  We might 
say "fast javascript, good graphics   -get out of the way". The 
difference between RIA and browsers is less important that way. On the 
other hand, if Jason could see the lengths we go to just to fake looking 
at the stack, he might reasonably ask why we don't just dust off jsqueak

A  Personally you had me@"get out of the way" Dan, but can i just ask 
one more cause I'm excited....The revolution Dan  -it's just around the 
corner isn't it? No more laws anymore!

Dan: No Moore's law anymore? Well, that's not actually correct. Moore's 
law still holds, but the hardware guys seem to have run out of ideas 
about what to do with those transistors.

PP: I'm talkin impending revolution here Dan. You know that bit in War 
of the Worlds, when the aliens have landed in the park  -and everyone 
knows  -but they just keep on acting like nothing has changed? Just 
living their lives, doing the same thing..

Dan: ..and writing the same old sequential, state mutating, code 
right?   Well, I guess you are really asking a bunch of questions here; 
How can the computer help people think about concurrency? Can OO really 
do parallelism or do we all need to go learn Erlang or Haskell?  Can 
javascript the language ever handle more than one thread? Will web 
browsers support parallelism and what will it look like? How far can 
this idea of a mashup take us down the concurrency road?

 Well, [chuckles] we have actually given some thought to this  stuff, 
and we think that [audio drops out here]

PP: Sorry, you're breaking up a little there Dan -I think you were 
saying that when the revolution comes you'll be dining with the 
philosophers -and may I say that's mighty heroic of you, throwing down 
your life like that for the cause.

Dan: Sorry?

PP: It'll be you, me, and the Colonel at that table Dan.

Dan: Err, well it's looking like there is going to be a lot of room@
the table.

PP: A lot of room Dan. Might be hard to find enough philosphers.

Dan: I guess that's one way to state the parallelism problem.  Mind you  
-that does mean less conflict over chopsticks to resolve.

PP.:You're speaking my language Dan. Too many soldiers have died face 
down in the mud, resolving conflicts over chopsticks

Dan: I think that is overstating it, but shared state concurrency is 
hard. People seem to find actors easier to comprehend

PP:  Well certainly not that Marlon Brando in Apocalypse-Now, Dan -I 
couldn't work out a damm word the man was saying. Kickass movie though.

Dan: Err.. hey  -sure!

PP: Well thanks for coming on the show Dan.   I've been talking to Dan 
Pringles about Colonel Lively.   Next week we have child actor turned IP 
attorney, Danny Kay. Danny will be talking to us about his new book "the 
best way to prevent the future is to patent it". Stay tuned for some 
messages from our sponsor [deleted]


See what I mean? Every time we think we are going to actually learn 
about the thinking around LK, something happens.

More information about the lively-kernel mailing list