Share this project


Share this project

Computing: a Documentary of the Human Experience's video poster

A transmedia project engaging audiences of all ages in the story of the technology that has changed humanity. Read more

pledged of $25,000 goal
seconds to go


This project was successfully funded on January 3, 2012.

A transmedia project engaging audiences of all ages in the story of the technology that has changed humanity.

About this project

I need your help in telling a story, the story of the technology that has changed humanity: computing.

Why Is Computing Important?

Because the story of computing is the story of humanity.

Computing is a story of ambition, passion, invention, creativity, vision, avarice, and serendipity, powered by a refusal to accept the limits of our bodies and our minds. From the abacus to the iPad, from Gutenberg to Google, from Enigma to GPS, we have created computers to count the uncountable, remember beyond our own experiences, and see the invisible as well as the unforeseeable. To explore computing is the 21st Century equivalent of Cousteau exploring the sea, of Hughes exploring modern art, and of Burns exploring the American experience through the Civil War, baseball, and jazz. 

In just one or two generations – an imperceptible time in the timeless sweep of the universe – we have created a technology that has the power to extend us, to transform us, to define us, perhaps even to destroy us.

Just think about it: there is practically nothing you see or do in your daily life that is NOT created, supported, delivered or impacted by computing. 

Including reading this proposal. That meal you just ate? The typical carrot travels 1600 miles from farm to fork – involving computing that created a healthier seed, the supply chain software that tracked the delivery truck, the intelligent devices embedded in the supermarket refrigerator that kept it fresh for you, the car you drove to pick it up that contains more lines of software code than a jet fighter. Computing has irreversibly changed the human experience.

Just as Carl Sagan’s Cosmos made the universe understandable and exciting to a mass audience twenty-five years ago (was it really that long ago?) Computing: The Human Experience will inform, inspire, and entertain. We will grab audiences of all ages by the throat and/or brain by telling the story of this incredibly technology that is changing our world…while changing humanity.

How Will We Tell The Story Of Computing?

Computing will eventually become a multi-part documentary series. It will be broadcast (via traditional media as well as web streaming, if all goes as planned), but also online: on your iPad in an interactive format; as an e-book on your Kindle or phone; as a social network and website, getting people connected to their interests and to each other; as a series of educational games for kids and teens; and as a platform for getting more girls and minorities excited about becoming our next generation’s Mark Zuckerberg-ses and Steve Jobs-es.

So, yes, while Computing will teach the essential science of computing, its main focus is on making us all THINK about our relationship to controlling or being controlled by our own future and our own creations. And that’s something no documentary project in this subject area has ever done (and certainly not with the insider-insights, interactivity, and attitude we plan).

Why Do We Want Your Collaboration?

If our project were instead Keeping Up With The Housewives Who Survived Dancing With The Ice Truck Drivers, we'd probably be greenlighted in a New York minute and be spending our fortunes supporting other Kickstarter projects. But, getting a project of this scope and (well, we’ll just go ahead and say it) depth, can be very, very, very challenging.

Very. Very. Challenging.

We have a deeper faith in the intelligence of the public: we will produce a thoughtful, provocative, and entertaining documentary on the co-evolution of computing and humanity.

But, we need your help in kickstarting the Powers-That-Be-Who-Make-Television to help THEM make that all-important creative leap of faith. We need to push the envelope of what it means to broadcast a documentary of this form to a massive global audience using the Web as well as traditional broadcast media. We need to convince the various foundations and other individual financial contributors that we are serious and that we have the chops and the team and the talent to pull this off. We need to show them all - in a way they totally understand - that Computing is distinctly not a boring technical video of talking heads, but that it is really the unbelievable, exciting, provocative story of humanity's ongoing fight between extending and not surrendering ourselves to our digital doppelgangers.

In other words, what we are doing here is creating the initial material that proves just how fascinating, jaw-dropping, and cool Computing really is.

Very. Wickedly. Cool.

We have been developing this project for almost four years now. But, we need a kick to help us take this to the next level. And that’s why we need you.

Where Do We Stand As Of Now?

We’ve come a long way in those four years. We have established the basic themes and structure for the series; we have drafted an outline for the Computing book; we’ve formed our creative team and our advisory board; we have a teaser script written and a production team lined up; we’ve several major production grants in progress.

But we are not where we’d like to be: we are ready to produce the teaser (which is necessary for completing our grant work and in other fundraising activities); we have some basic research to conduct; we have interviews to carry out; we have research assistants at the ready to go forth and help with story development.

We need a kickstart.

What Support Do We Need Right Now?

We seek $25,000 (a bargain!) to create some initial materials that will be used to introduce Computing: The Human Experience to the appropriate movers and shakers – as well as the general public. These materials will also prime the pump in a way that will help us gain traction and critical momentum (i.e., critical funding) from visionary foundations, individuals and institutions.

What Will We Do?

There are three things we'll do with this $25,000:

1. We will launch a lecture series on each of the various topics we intend to explore in the broadcast series. We have architected a full set of talks, such as Woven On The Loom Of Sorrow (about computing and war), Deus ex Machina (about computing as a companion as well as a challenge to faith), The Incredible Lightness of Being (computing and the extension of the human body through games, virtual worlds, artificial organs, and robotics) and several others. We need funding to cover the costs of development, travel, and recording. We expect to be able to make these lectures available publicly via the Web and traditional broadcast mediums.

How does this help? The Computer History Museum in Mountain View California has offered to host these talks and to video record them. The museum has a relationship with a local PBS station and their vision thought is that if they can get these talks broadcast on PBS that it will begin to get me known to a larger audience and demonstrate that I have a on film presence and personality that will sell.

2. We will kickstart the development of a book (in dead tree format as well as media-rich ebook form) on Computing. We need funding to obtain research materials.

How does this help? I have written several best selling books. To put this story into a print format will demonstrate that the story is there, that it is engaging and it is worth telling. Once again, this book will create a wider, global audience for my work (which up until now has been directed to a professional, technical audience).

3. We will further develop our Web presence, especially with regard to the production of a series of videos (in the spirit of the Khan Academy) that teach, present, examine, and contemplate the science and the stories and the future of computing. We need funding to cover basic production costs. This site and these videos will be made public.

How does this help? The “Ask Grady” series of YouTube videos will give the general public the opportunity to ask questions about computing. Once again this gives us greater exposure to the general public and begins to engage them in a dialogue about computing.

What Will We Do If We Get More Than $25,000?

We will do a happy dance. We might even put it on YouTube. Then :

4. If we reach $50,000, we will create a timeline app that presents the important people, events, and inventions in the history of computing. We’ve done the research, we’ve got the materials; now we just need to make it real.

How does this help? This creates added visibility, delivers the results of some of our research to the public, and also creates an income stream that will help support the future work of creating Computing The Human Experience.

5. If we reach $75,000, we can do all that plus we will produce a seven minute teaser that introduces Computing. We already have a script, we've identified our locations, and we even have a producer and production team at the ready. We just need the dollars ($50,000, to be precise) to make it so. 

How does this help? Most of the grants we are pursuing require a sample DVD to be submitted as part of the grant proposal. This DVD will illustrate the style and voice for the project as a whole and also demonstrates that we can create interesting video content. Getting these grants is the path to make this project a reality.

6. And there’s so much more we are ready to do: we'll commission a composer; we'll engage research assistants; we'll start conducting interviews; we'll begin to scout locations.

And we’ll continue with our series of happy dances.

In all, we expect Computing to be a $10 million-ish project. We've self-funded this work the past four years. But, it takes money to make money, and we need a kick to get us to the next level.

Who Are We?

I am Grady Booch an IBM Fellow, co-creator of UML and Object Oriented Programming - and general braniac and onscreen presenter/host. I know that I cannot do a project this big by myself and so I have gathered around me other people smarter and more creative than me. My wife Jan is a theologian and psychotherapist; she is my co-creator and advisor whose job is to keep it real. Seth Friedman is an award-winning writer and creative director; he is our co-creator and scriptwriter.

You can read about us here:

I have also gathered an advisory board that includes the father of the internet, the world's leading historians of computing, the curators of a number of museums, and leading thinkers from various universities.  We are also in the process of expanding this board to include luminaries from science, society, industry, government, the arts, and religion.

You can read about them here:

Why Will We Be Successful?

There's a story inside of me that's fighting to get out and to be shared with the world. I am ready to focus the next three years of my professional life on telling that story. I have assembled a world-class team of creative talent to help me, and I am ready to expand my team to make my dream happen.

I just need a bit of a kick to start us on the next phase of this journey.

Join Us In The Journey

The story of computing is the story of humanity: we invite you to join us in the telling of that story. Get in on the ground floor. 

Become a part of a project that promises to be truly exciting, surprising, provocative and meaningful. 

To find out more detail, please visit our website:


  • Send us a message letting us know which reward you would like to use as a gift and we will send you a certificate suitable for framing. So go ahead - give your loved one the gift of an hour of mentoring with Grady, their name in his next book, or even Grady speaking at your child's school, birthday party, or company. (Are you sure your wife wouldn't like a Grady bobble head sitting on her desk at work?)

    Last updated:


  • You selected
    Pledge $1 or more

    43 backers

    For $1 or more you will receive my deepest gratitude plus the option of having your name listed on a sponsors list on the Computing the Human Experience website. Additionally, you can become an Outreach Partner. We'll give you a widget you can add to your website, designating you as a Friend of Computing. Spread the word about our project in your community! Facebook it. Tweet it. Sing it from the mountain tops.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    75 backers

    For $10 or more you will receive all of the above plus we will send you quarterly emails filled with updates and photos about our project, Computing: The Human Experience.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    45 backers

    For $25 or more you will receive all of the above plus a Computing: The Human Experience magnet to place on your refrigerator or robot of your choice.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $30 or more

    7 backers

    For $30 or more you will receive all of the above plus two free admissions to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    64 backers

    For $50 or more you will receive all of the above plus a handwritten note (remember those? It will be a collector's item someday!) from Grady thanking you for your support.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $70 or more

    5 backers

    For $70 or more you will receive all of the above plus one year of individual membership to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, which gives you unlimited admission, a subscription to the CHM Digital Quarterly Newsletter and the digital version of Core Magazine, and priority access/free admission to CHM lectures.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    32 backers

    For $100 or more you will receive all of the above plus quarterly emails of Grady's speaking schedule as well as the opportunity to meet with him one on one at an event at which he is speaking (travel and expenses not included). Bring your book (he'll autograph it for you) and bring your camera (he'll take a picture with you, and post it on the Friends of Computing website).

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $125 or more

    21 backers

    For $125 or more you will receive all of the above plus a copy of the official guide to the Computer History Museum's Revolution: The First 2000 Years, an official "super geek" t-shirt, and a CHM Revolution pin.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    8 backers

    For $250 or more you will receive all of the above plus a personal phone call from Grady Booch thanking you for your donation.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    5 backers Limited (15 left of 20)

    For $500 you will receive all of the above plus a one hour phone call (or a face to face meeting if it requires no travel) with Grady for you or your aspiring Computer Scientist. Talk dreams, plans, schemes and hopes. Grady will listen, advise and mentor.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    4 backers

    For $1000 or more you will receive all of the above plus we will put your or your loved one's name hidden somewhere in Grady's next book (it might appear in an example, in the index, or in an acknowledgement). Part of the fun is discovering where you are! Additionally, if we make the $50,000 that we need to make the timeline app, you will also receive a copy of the app.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $5,000 or more

    0 backers

    For $5,000 or more you will receive all of the above plus you will be able to be part of a small select Facebook group that is able to be in conversation with Grady regarding the content of our project. Additionally, if we make the $75,000 that we need to produce the teaser DVD, you will receive all of the above plus a THANK YOU during the CREDIT ROLL of the teaser.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $10,000

    0 backers

    For $10,000 or more you will receive all of the above plus a limited edition Grady Booch bobble head/action figure! Put it next to your computer to add some supercharged mojo! (The collectable will be delivered in March; all the other other goodies will be delivered according to the schedule above).

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (36 days)