Say you have started a book club. You need to coordinate with the members to choose books to read, schedule meetings, decide who is bringing the wine and cheese, etc. You probably use some spreadsheets, some web services like message forums and polls — and make it all work with a flood of email. You watch your life passing by as you robotically copy and paste between email and spreadsheets and all these services. What you want is a custom website like a Rails app or a Drupal installation, but you were an English major. What you need is a tool as easy to learn as a spreadsheet or HyperCard, but one designed to build ad-hoc social applications. Of course it should be at home on the dominant platform for social software: phones.
Transcript takes the vision of end-user programming as in HyperCard and reimagines it on the phone, designed to do the things you want to do with a phone: mediate and structure conversations. The experience is more like editing a document than programming, but hidden inside this Trojan Horse is a highly distilled yet fully capable programming language. I will demo an early prototype of Transcript and discuss our vision of bringing programming to everyone.