[LINK] Ted Nelson USyd, 6 April, Melb 4/4, Bris 12/4

Gerard Goggin gerard.goggin at sydney.edu.au
Mon Mar 28 08:53:47 AEDT 2011

[Dear Link-ers, details of Ted Nelson¹s tour for those interested. cheers,
Gerard Goggin]

Dept of Media and Communications & Digital Cultures Program, USyd, present

ŒThe Computer World Could be Completely Different Œ
Theodor Holm Nelson
Founding Designer, Project Xanadu
Wed 6 April, 6pm-7.30pm, Law School Foyer, University of Sydney


Also Melb & Brisbane:

Melbourne April 4 
Brisbane/QUT April 12

ŒThe Computer World Could be Completely Different Œ:

Fish, they say, aren't aware of water.  Most people, including computer
scientists, don't notice the hidden assumptions and traditions that have
structured today's computer world and digital documents.  These assumptions
push the real problems into the laps of users and programmers.  (Note that
at this level, Windows, Mac and Linux, Iphone and Android are all the same.)

Almost nobody notices the consequences of this locked cosmology that
* FILES. Lumps of data payload with short names.  What is "metadata"?  Data
which is not in the payload­a silly distinction
* HIERARCHICAL DIRECTORIES.  These don't allow a file to be in more than one
place, annotated or checked off, and don't notice when a file is moved.
* LUMPDOCS. It is assumed that one document = one file; this forces a crude
model of publication and pushes the problem of change management to the
* THE PUI.  (PARC User Interface, often called "The Modern GUI") turns the
computer into a paper simulator, throwing away document structure (the
original overlay links of Engelbart and others) in favor of cosmetics
(fonts).  Designed for secretaries and now imposed on the whole world, the
PUI traps the user­proletarianised­no longer allowed to program, in a world
of application prisons.
* WALLED DATABASES.  There is no available way to represent, and keep
records about, the complex interwoven tangles of real life. Everything has
to be simplified and connections have to be cut in all directions.  Why?
* ONE-WAY HYPERTEXT. The ayatollahs of the World Wide Web say that two-way
links are too difficult.  Translation: they don't know how to do it.
People are satisfied, or intimidated, because they don't know anything else
is possible.

There is no right or wrong computer world; what is wrong is that there is
only one computer world, with no other choices.

We will consider some alternatives.

Theodor Holm Nelson is an American designer, generalist, and pioneer of
information technology. He coined the terms "hypermedia" and "hypertext" in
1963, and is also credited with first use of the words micropayment,
transclusion, virtuality, intertwingularity and dildonics. He is the most
important computing visionary of our time. The main thrust of his work has
been to create a different kind of electronic document which allows many
forms of connection, instead of the "paper simulation" of Word, PDF and the
World Wide Web. Nelson founded Project Xanadu in 1960, a project that has
inspired a whole generation of computer programmers, hobbyists and
developers. The effort is documented in his  book Computer Lib/Dream
Machines (1974) and Literary Machines (1981). He has just published an
autobiography, Possiplex.

Co-presented with the Department of Media and Communications
<http://sydney.edu.au/arts/media_communications/> , and Digital Cultures
<http://sydney.edu.au/arts/digital_cultures/>  at the University of Sydney
For more information, contact Gerard Goggin: gerard.goggin at sydney.edu.au

Gerard Goggin
Professor of Media and Communications
Department of Media and Communications
University of Sydney
e: gerard.goggin at sydney.edu.au
p:  +61 2 9114 1218
m: +61 428 66 88 24
w: http://sydney.edu.au/arts/media_communications/staff/ggoggin

Level 2, room 206
Holme Building (A09a)
Footbridge terrace entrance
University of Sydney NSW 2006

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