"Knowledge, it seemed to me, consists of the “How” connections between pieces of information, the cause and effect relationships. How does this action bring about that result. Science is a systematic attempt to discover the “How” connections. Wisdom, it seemed to me, was a step further removed, the bigger perspective of the “Why” connections between pieces of knowledge. Why, for reasons ethical and aesthetic, should we choose one future over another?
I thought if we could encourage sharing of ideas between different areas of knowledge, perhaps more of the bigger picture would emerge, and eventually more wisdom might develop. Sort of a trickle-up theory of information leading to knowledge leading to wisdom.
This was the underlying inspiration for HyperCard, a multimedia authoring environment that empowered non-programmers to share ideas using new interactive media called HyperCard stacks."
— Bill Atkinson
Bill Atkinson and Andy Herzfeld reflect on the missed potential of Hypercard:
Bill Atkinson: They (Apple) didn't quite get normal people could create their own software. I found a lot of really ingenious creative things came up out of it. Someone that had a passion about some area and was newly empowered to express that in a piece of software that they could make themselves will come up with all kinds of really wonderful stuff. [...] I always thought it was easier to take someone who already had a pent up passion and provide them a way to express themselves through code than it was to take someone who was a good programmer and try to instill a passion into them. Hypercard was definitely a populist program, it was designed to open up programming to the masses and make the barrier to entry a lot less.
Andy Herzfeld: The industry is missing that to some extent today even though the tools are an order of magnitude more powerful. I would love to see the analogous of Hypercard on the iPhone for example to allow an iPhone or iPad user to create their own applications.
Bill Atkinson: I'd love to see the same thing on the web. Forget the iPhone and the iPad and the Mac and the Windows. It's the Web. That's the platform today.
Andy Herzfeld: I met with Alan Kay a little after I started at Google and Alan Kay told me what you should work on at Google is Hypercard for the web. And I didn't listen to him...
Bill Atkinson: It was a generative tool, an authoring environment, whereas the web browser that we got was sort of read only - only certain elite people could make a website. And now we've got kind of an in-between where at least you can type text into a blog - a sort of pre-made website where you fill in the blanks.
Andy Herzfeld: But we don't have the end-user scripting which I think is the essence.