Software Development
Apps / Arts / Real estate / Science

This Wilmington programmer just wants to make ‘cool stuff’

Foolhardy Softworks' cofounder John Meyer fesses up about a news app he's got on the backburner, his love for physics and an interactive book project in the works.

John Meyer loves quantum physics. But he also loves programming. (Photo by Tony Abraham)

John Meyer has been a programmer for over 20 years. When he began pursuing his undergraduate at Old Dominion University in Virginia, he experienced a gradual pivot in his interests.
“I was a hacker, I cracked software, I was into assembly programming. Big-time computer nerd,” Meyer said. Then he got into physics — really, really deep into it. “I said, ‘I can be a physicist, I can do this.’ So I stopped doing computer stuff and was doing a lot of math.”
By the time he began grad school at the University of Delaware, Meyer was head over heels for physics. “I wanted to solve cosmology, the ‘what is the fundamental nature of the universe?’-type theory,” he said. So he started doing computational plasma physics. And then his interests pivoted again, back to programming.
By the time he and fellow Ph.D. James Dalessio founded Foolhardy Softworks out of coIN Loft, Meyer had accumulated enough academic training in math, physics and programming to do some consulting work on the side and fund his real passion: “My main goal is, I just want to make cool stuff.”
And he has.
Like Kronica, for instance. The news app is on the backburner at the moment, but it was the first big Foolhardy Softworks project back in 2011. Dubbed the “news of the people,” Kronica would be a location-based app that allows citizens to livestream news from their phone. Users would be capable of commenting and upvoting streams.
In 2015, apps like Meerkat and Periscope have all but taken over that market. “If we had dropped out of grad school and done it then, it probably would have been successful,” Meyer said.
Meyer’s current project excites him most. “I feel like I’m going in an artsy direction,” he said. Still in the early stages of development, the project is a fully interactive choose-your-own-adventure ebook. Meyer compared it to recent video games that alter storylines based on decisions users’ make in the game. “It’s the same direction, but I want to do words. I’m a reader, I love to read books,” he said.
But how would something like that work for a book?
“You go to the front of a mansion and there’s a hobo sitting there,” he said. “You click on the [word] ‘hobo’ in the text and it will let you choose something, then rewrite the text based on what you choose.”
Meyer is authoring the story, which he would only describe as a “villain’s journey” with “zany steampunk inventions.”

Companies: The Loft / University of Delaware

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