Resisting Biometrics/Evolving Cyberebonics
A fascinating figure in this regard is John ‘JT’ Thompson. One time lead software engineer at Macromedia and professor of Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU/Tisch, he has etched out a unique place within the history of the creative applications of computer programming as the inventor of ‘Lingo’. In 1988 ‘JT’ became involved in the evolution of a programme called ‘VideoWorks Interactive Pro’ which had been developed by the MacroMind company. Applying his interest in ‘object oriented programming’, he developed ‘Lingo’ as the programming language at the core of the newly launched Director version 1.0. In subsequent years Director has evolved numerically to the 2004 release of version 10.. more widely known as Director MX 2004 and retains a position of one of the key interactive authoring environments used by contemporary artists and interactive designers. In all cases, ‘Lingo’ has remained the core programming language with which the human artist or designer construct a set of instructions which can be read and executed by a computer running the ‘Director’ environment.
What should be seen as unremarkable, but unfortunately still has the potential to raise many a surprised eyebrow when pointed out, is that John ‘JT’ Thompson is what has come to be described as an ‘African American’. This fact is significant to me, not just as a useful tool within a critique of contemporary amnesia around black contributions to our technological space, or within debates around the promotion of so called ‘positive images’ and role models. Its significance also lies within the symbolic and conceptual role of ‘Lingo’ within the complex shared space between the human and the machine.