Astounding, visionary video about hypertext from 1976

[Read the post]


It gave me a bit of discomfort watching the instructor repeatedly refer to the user as He and Him as the female student sat right in front of him demonstrating it. I realize it was a manner of speaking when referring to a computer operator at the time. It’s just so blatantly obvious.


it’s astounding how ahead-of-its-time this system was.

on a side-note, my highschool curriculum also had a successful system to teach poetry, but it was similar in that you make it as interactive as possible. I don’t know how different this is from anyone else’s school, but here’s how it worked. at every level of study, in addition to reading assigned poems, the students were assigned to write poems and – crucially – groups within the class would read each-others’ poems and comment on them. you know, notes in margins: I like this, I’ve felt that way also, I don’t get the idea, this wording is unclear, good imagery, etc. then you decided how to apply the peer input and re-wrote a second draft to hand in to the teacher. everyone experiences how hard it is to write a good poem, and the peer-review is received better than the single-perspective, teacher-on-high as supreme judgment. By learning how to actually make poetry, analysis of great poets becomes far easier, less intimidating, and enjoyable. which is what the college students were saying about the peer commentary in the hypertext course.

My graduating class was small, just over 100 students, but they all understood poetry to an acceptable level, were not intimidated by it in the least, and could write something not-embarrassing if they took the notion. (peer review was also a huge part of how we learned to write essays, too.)

I remember John Barth describing hypertexting in Giles Goat-Boy (1966). Don’t quite remember, but I think he called it glossing. I remember thinking how nifty it sounded at the time.

Ted Nelson coined the term in the early 60s.

Exactly my thought! Hypertext itself was not new even the (vannevar Bush and later Ted Nelson are early exemplars, hell even the mother of all demos has it IIRC) though the early research on hypertext using literary texts (and I haven’t read these papers in c.20ish years) seems rather whimsical to my mind now.

I suppose it is at least in part because it fit avant grade literature from oulipo to Pynchon so well…

Computer Lib / Dream Machines came out in 1974, I wonder if Ted Nelson was around Brown at the time…

Yes, Nelson had been there trying to explain hypertext to van Dam, and this is what came out of that. I think there’s a photo of the Brown system in Computer Lib (or Dream Machines, the flip side).

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.