This is an ongoing collection of longer form thoughts on the design and philosophy behind the Coalescent Computer.

Blog < Strange Loop 2023 Presentation Submission

@jakintosh | May 1, 2023

In my continued efforts to begin sharing my work, I went out of my comfort zone a bit to propose my first conference talk for Strange Loop 2023. This took a few rounds of refinement and a couple public "sharpening sessions" on to help me find a focus, and then craft a hook and outline.

I'm not very confident in it being selected, but it pushed me to start taking the "communication" aspect of the project more seriously. I've accumulated almost two and half years of work on this project and have realized that, while it's simple in my mind, it can require a lot of work to explain everything due to the highly interconneted and philosophical nature of the design.

Update 5/22/23: The talk was not selected.

For transparency, the final abstract that I submitted to Strange Loop can be found below.

The Principles and Architecture of Coalescent Computing

The web has eaten the personal computer. What web-based “platform computing” has given us in sharing capabilities, cloud storage, and glossy user interfaces, it has taken from us in data ownership, privacy, and portability. To solve the looming social and ecological issues of the 21st century, we’ll need more resilient personal computing systems that can adapt to local conditions and emergent needs, without relying on platforms.

In this talk, we’ll discuss how the principles of “local-first software” and “agent-centric computing” both aim to reverse the trend of platform enclosure while holding on to their most important benefits. We’ll then define a new personal computing paradigm at the intersection of those principles, called “coalescent computing”. Finally, we’ll walk through a high-level architectural proposal for actually building a coalescent computer, look at some examples of work that has already been done, and explore some of the emergent consequences of its design.