Ted Nelson

30 Oct 2021 02:15 - 19 Jun 2023 08:53
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    • Ted Nelson is a famous computer visionary, best known for coining the word hypertext. He was not the first person to see the huge potential of computers to enhance human thought, but I certainly learned about that from him – his book Computer Lib ∕ Dream Machines was an early influence. That was the first time I encountered the notion that computational technology could be a vehicle for thought and expression, that it was a medium and could serve as a prosthesis for the mind.
    • Ted was not the only one, or the first, to see the possibilities. Others like Alan Kay, and Seymour Papert, and Doug Engelbart were doing pioneering work about at this time, but they weren՚t self-publishing gloriously ragged books for a young person like me to find prowling around the local scene in Evanston IL in the mid-70s.
    • He's since got quite a bit of recognition as a tech visionary, but nobody has taken his ideas seriously enough. We have hypertext of a sort – you are reading an example – but it's a far cry from what Ted envisioned. These days Ted has the attitude of someone who has been very patiently trying to get people to see some obvious good things, and has been frustrated at every turn, and running out of time, but is still doing his best to make people wake up.
    • Decent Writing Systems

    • I first got into this as a writer; all I wanted was a decent writing system that would run on a computer. Little did I realize the immensity of what that entailed, or that for some reason my work and approach would engender indignation and anger wherever I went. There is a fiction that everybody in these fields is doing something fundamentally scientific and technical, an d this fiction is usually upheld in carefully enacted mutual playlets. Trying to cut through that and say , "Let's build a home for mankind that will at last be shaped to fit man's mind, " does not seem to generate immediate warmth and welcome.
    • Earlier

      • Thoughts on Ted Nelson (April 2014)
        • Brewster Kahle՚s talk reminded me of another basic way in which the web failed to live up to Nelson՚s dream: whereas the web and other present-day digital technologies are something of a paradise for media consumers, Ted՚s main focus was on the creator, that is, writers and thinkers. He wanted a system that would support writers and generate new forms of writing and discourse; forms that would contribute to the collective intelligence of humanity. That too doesn՚t seem to have happened. Web media seems to favor the trivial and immediate over deeply structured content.
          • This was true when I wrote it but I think Roam is a big step in the right direction.