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Notes on The Curse of Xanadu

Source: Tags: hypertext thinking Ted Nelson Xanadu Articles

“And, on the very hackerish assumption that global catastrophes are caused by ignorance, stupidity, and communication failures, Xanadu was supposed to save the world.”

“His great inspiration was to imagine a computer program that could keep track of all the divergent paths of his thinking and writing. To this concept of branching, nonlinear writing, Nelson gave the name hypertext .”

“Nelson loved words, which were tools for memory, but he hated the way that traditional writing and editing imposed a false and limiting order. Nelson had no interest in the smooth, progressive narratives encased in books. He wanted everything to be preserved in all its chaotic flux, so that it could be reconstructed as needed.”

“Nelson records everything and remembers nothing. “

“Tormented by his own faulty memory, Nelson developed the habit of asserting that only a technology for the preservation of all knowledge could prevent the destruction of life on Earth. The thought that some mental connection or relationship might dissolve was unbearable.”

""zippered lists,” in which elements in one text would be linked to related or identical elements in other texts. Nelson’s two interests, screen editing and nonsequential writing, were merging. With zippered lists, links could be made between large sections, small sections, whole pages, or single paragraphs. The writer and reader could manufacture a unique document by following a set of links between discrete documents that were “zipped” together.”

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