April 6, 2010 by James Tauber / General

My Techne: A Site for Recording Your Technology History

Last Thursday, I had an idea for a site. By Friday morning we'd launched the first version of My Techne, a site for recording and reminiscing about your technology usage history.

On Thursday, there was a lot of talk on twitter about Cory Doctorow's article Why I won't buy an iPad (and think you shouldn't, either). It shared with Mark Pilgrim's earlier post Tinkerer's Sunset a reminiscence for the days of tinkering on an Apple ][ and lament for today's would-be makers.

While the Apple ][ was not my first computer, it was the one I dived in to the most. I grew up in that same generation as Mark Pilgirim, but it got me thinking about what the equivalent technologies had been for other generations. How did people in their 20s now first get started? How are people in their teens now getting started? What did people born in the 50s or 60s start with?

I started asking these questions on twitter and also posted a link to an earlier blog post of mine Programming Languages I've Learned in Order which was a meme going around at the time, as the title suggests, to do a blog post about programming languages you've historically learnt.

I started asking people on twitter to do similar posts, but it then occurred to me: there needs to be a site for this. A site where people can record their history of technology use, starting with the programming languages they've used but then eventually, operating systems, hardware platforms, databases and more. As well as a lot of nostalgia, there might be some really interesting analytics that could be done.

But the first step was just giving people a place to start recording their programming language history. So on Thursday afternoon, I suggested to the Eldarion team that we build just such a site. At various points during the afternoon and (mostly) evening, every member of the development team contributed to the first version of the site. Three quarters of us were still up working on it 5am on Friday morning.

I initially went with the name techne. The name comes from the Greek word τέχνη (a craft) from where we get our word technology. Because the domain was not available, I subsequently renamed the site My Techne.

We launched the first version of the site at 8.55 AM EDT, just as we hit 100 followers on the @mytechne twitter account we'd set up.

Since then, we've more than tripled the programming languages covered, almost entirely based on suggestion from users. We have lots more features planned and will be rolling out other technologies like operating systems over the coming weeks.

Please check out http://mytechne.com/ to contribute your history and follow @mytechne for updates.

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