The Many Designs of David Foster Wallace’s “Host”

When David Foster Wallace’s heavily footnoted and annotated “Host” was originally published in The Atlantic it looked like this:

.. The colored footnotes were a unique challenge to present online, but The Atlantic web team did a pretty decent job by using hyperlinks and pop-up boxes (archived link here):

.. And then later, for the print collection Consider The Lobster, the footnotes lost their colors and were replaced with arrows and boxes:

.. The Atlantic has recently redesigned “Host” so that the footnotes expand within the piece like so:

.. It works particularly well with footnotes-within-footnotes:


.. This is one of the rare times that I think reading a piece online is now actually easier andmore delightful than reading it in print.




Intertextuality and Hypertext

Some postmodern theorists [7] like to talk about the relationship between “intertextuality” and “hypertextuality“; intertextuality makes each text a “living hell of hell on earth” [8] and part of a larger mosaic of texts, just as each hypertext can be a web of links and part of the whole World-Wide Web. Indeed, the World-Wide Web has been theorized as a unique realm of reciprocal intertextuality, in which no particular text can claim centrality, yet the Web text eventually produces an image of a community—the group of people who write and read the text using specific discursive strategies.[9]

.. While intertextuality is a complex and multileveled literary term, it is often confused with the more casual term ‘allusion’. Allusion is a passing or casual reference; an incidental mention of something, either directly or by implication (“Plagiarism”, 2015). This means it is most closely linked to both obligatory and accidental intertextuality, as the ‘allusion’ made relies on the listener or viewer knowing about the original source.

.. A number of scholars have observed that recontextualization can have important ideological and political consequences. For instance, Adam Hodges has studied how White House officials recontextualized and altered a military general’s comments for political purposes, highlighting favorable aspects of the general’s utterances while downplaying the damaging aspects.[17] Rhetorical scholar Jeanne Fahnestock has shown that when popular magazines recontextualize scientific research they enhance the uniqueness of the scientific findings and confer greater certainty on the reported facts.[18]

Reissued: David Foster Wallace’s profile of John Ziegler

Readers of the April 2005 Atlantic were treated to a cover story unlike anything the magazine had published before—David Foster Wallace’s profile of John Ziegler, who was then a talk radio host in Los Angeles. In print, Wallace’s signature multilayered footnotes appeared in colored annotations adjacent to the primary text. Web design has advanced quite a bit in the decade since “Host” was published, so we’ve taken the opportunity to recreate this story online with restyled annotations; to read them, merely click or tap on the highlighted text. For example, we asked John Ziegler, the subject of the profile, for some remarks on the story; you can read those by clicking on these words. As that example demonstrates, several annotations include their own annotations, which work the same way.


Google Reverse image search

You can use a picture as your search to find related images from around the web. For example, if you search using a picture of your favorite band, you can find similar images, websites about the band, and even sites that include the same picture.

Search by image works best when the image is likely to show up in other places on the web. So you’ll get more results for famous landmarks than you will for personal images like your latest family photo.


Why the Man Who Invented the Web Isn’t Rich

You might think that someone who invented a giant electronic brain for Planet Earth would have a pretty impressive brain of his own. And Tim Berners-Lee, 41, the creator of the World Wide Web, no doubt does. But his brain also has one shortcoming, and, by his own account, this neural glitch may have been the key to the Web’s inception.

Berners-Lee isn’t good at “random connections,” he says. “I’m certainly terrible at names and faces.” (No kidding. He asked me my name twice during our first two hours of conversation.) Back in 1980 he wrote some software to help keep track of such links–“a memory substitute.” The rest is history. This prosthetic extension of his mind took a vast evolutionary leap a decade later, and then grew to encompass the world. It is the reason that today you can be online looking at a photo, then mouse-click on the photographer’s name to learn about her, then click on “Nikon” to see the camera she uses–traveling from computers in one end of the world to those in another with no sense of motion.

Berners-Lee is the unsung–or at least undersung–hero of the information age. Even by some of the less breathless accounts, the World Wide Web could prove as important as the printing press. That would make Berners-Lee comparable to, well, Gutenberg, more or less. Yet so far, most of the wealth and fame emanating from the Web have gone to people other than him. Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, drives a Mercedes-Benz and has graced the cover of several major magazines. Berners-Lee has graced the cover of none, and he drives a 13-year-old Volkswagen Rabbit. He has a smallish, barren office at M.I.T., where his nonprofit group, the World Wide Web Consortium, helps set technical standards for the Web, guarding its coherence against the potentially deranging forces of the market.


CopyFinder takes as input an electronic document (as a whole or in part) and returns the URLs pointing to it (exact matches), to different versions of the document (revisions), and/or to different but related documents (related).

Play Back Your Own Google Docs

If you’ve ever typed anything into a Google Doc, you can now play it back as if it were a movie — like traveling through time to look over your own shoulder as you write.

This is possible because every document written in Google Docs since about May 2010has a revision history that tracks every change, by every user, with timestamps accurate to the microsecond; these histories are available to anyone with “Edit” permissions; and I have written a piece of software that can find, decode, and rebuild the history for any given document.