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“God does not exist, and everything is wrong”

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The title is a quote from Ted Nelson, one of the “pioneers” we’re focusing on in the first section of the class. I had been going through the 7 that were listed on Professor Lockman’s blog post and briefly reading about them on the Wikipedia. Nelson stood out to me the most, not only for this amazing quote (full quote: “Most people are fools, most authority is malignant, God does not exist, and everything is wrong.“), but also for his contribution to the internet. After reading the somewhat brief Wikipedia article, I wanted to know more about him, so I followed some links in the reference section. Unfortunately, I discovered his homepage was no longer accessible… so I had to mark it as a {{deadlink}} and move on to an interesting Wired article about Nelson.

From both the article and the Wikipedia entry, I gathered that Ted Nelson’s view of hypertext (links) and the internet were very different from what ultimately developed. The term “docuverse” was thrown around when describing his vision, “complicated notions of transferring authorship back to creators and tracking payments as readers hopped along networks of documents” (Kevin Kelly, Wired). The notion of authorship on today’s current World Wide Web can become quite skewed as content is freely shared, copied, and stolen without the system of firm link-backs that Nelson seemed to have thought of.

I decided to revisit Ted Nelson’s homepage and see if I couldn’t resurrect a dead link. Luckily, Google’s ‘cache’ feature helped me out in looking at the page that used to exist. After reading some of Nelson’s own notes, he seems to be quite an egotistical character. This was greatly evidenced by his footnotes on a quote by Tim Berners-Lee, founder” of the WWW, here (not a dead link). I find some of his comments to Berners-Lee’s quote rather silly, such as footnote 6: “Xanadu” is a registered trademark which I maintain at considerable cost, and I ask all parties to respect this by using the “®” or “(R)” symbol for the first use of the trademark “Xanadu” in each document.” I will have to be sure I write in the symbol if I discuss Xanadu(®!) in a future blog post.

Gotta head to Japanese class now, but I look forward to poking around about Ted Nelson’s contributions more later :)

– Paul

ps- Sorry for lack of image

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