Monday, October 24, 2005

slashdot post re: sideways information buckling

BarryNorton writes "In a world that increasingly takes the WWW, its pages and the other documents we exchange in the electronic world as given - and knights Tim Berners-Lee without an understanding of the pre-WWW background of stateless client/server document architectures (e.g. Gopher) and hypertext (e.g. Xanadu) on which he built - there still beavers away a forgotten figure, Ted Nelson, eager to more fully achieve the original hypertext vision. In recent communications Nelson says: 'The tekkies have hijacked literature- with the best intentions, of course!-) - but now the humanists have to get it back. Nearly every form of electronic document- Word, Acrobat, HTML, XML- represents some business or ideological agenda. Many believe Word and Acrobat are out to entrap users; HTML and XML enact a very limited kind of hypertext with great internal complexity. All imitate paper and (internally) hierarchy. I propose a different document agenda: I believe we need new electronic documents which are transparent, public, principled, and freed from the traditions of hierarchy and paper. In that case they can be far more powerful, with deep and rich new interconnections and properties- able to quote dynamically from other documents and buckle sideways to other documents, such as comments or successive versions; able to present third-party links; and much more. Most urgently: if we have different document structures we can build a new copyright realm, where everything can be freely and legally quoted and remixed in any amount without negotiation.'"