About

Joel Gustafson

I’m a senior at MIT pursuing computer science and mathematics.

I care about a lot of Big Ideas, and want to make computing universally accessible to everyone as a medium and an art. I believe in direct manipulation of data, augmenting human intellect, and dynamic, interactive documents, unlike most of the ones you’ll find here.

Some of my projects are a bit weird (that’s deliberate) and some of my heroes are a bit eccentric (that’s unfortunate). I only hope they’re thought-provoking.

Work

In summer 2017 I worked on Notion, a Lego-like composable productivity tool. I wrote a DSL and designed an editor for querying and computing on structured data.

In summer 2016 I started working with Gerry Sussman and Jack Wisdom to redesign the online notes for 6.946: Computational Classical Mechanics. The project spiralled into symbolic Scheme programming environment in the browser and a native Jupyter kernel.

Before that, I worked in the Viral Communications Group at the Media Lab as an undergraduate researcher with Travis Rich on PubPub, a platform for free and open academic publishing. PubPub emphasizes radical transparency, hosts curated grassroots journals, and weaves an intertwingled mesh of natively digital documents. I worked on interactive visualizations and Xanadu-style transclusions that would make Ted Nelson proud.

Courses

Check out my complete road map, complete with degree audit details. I’m usually course 6-3 or 18C, depending on the phase of the moon and the observed states of entangled roommates.

Selected highlights:

Heroes

These are just a few of the people who continually inspire me with the depth of their perception and the extent of their vision. Maybe someday we’ll realize their dreams, but until then, with ideas that are still radical, we fight on.

“The visual arts are the imitation of life, but the computing arts are the imitation of creation itself.”

Alan Kay

“There is no ‘Technology’. There is no ‘Design’. There is only a vision of how mankind should be, and the relentless resolve to make it so.”

Bret Victor

“The key thing about all the world’s big problems is that they have to be dealt with collectively. If we don’t get collectively smarter, we’re doomed.”

Doug Engelbart

“Most people are fools, most authority is malignant, God does not exist, and everything is wrong.”

Ted Nelson

“Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.”

Gerry Sussman

Code Aquarium

An incomplete selection of battle scars: