Intertwingled: The Work and Influence of Ted Nelson

While what we need is a convergence of computing with the arts and humanities, what we get is more often “psychology, engineering, or pedagogy.”

.. Thus, this bibliography. At least it is a start. My goal has been to put together a complete picture of Ted Nelson’s body of work as expressed in publication, including selections from ephemeral and non-print media.

17.3 Philosophy of Intertwingularity

.. I said in Computer Lib [2, 6] “Everything is deeply intertwingled.” I meant that all subjects and issues are intertwined and intermingled.

But intertwingled subjects are not what computers usually represent. From the beginning, people have set computers up to be hierarchical. Hierarchy is not in the nature of the computer. It is in the nature of the people who set up computers.

If you say, “everything is hierarchical,” as many computer people do, that is not science, it’s a metaphysical position. It can’t be proven true or false, it can only be proven inconvenient.

Hierarchy maps only some of the relationships in the world, and it badly maps the rest. You cannot represent history hierarchically, but as cross-connecting threads of narrative and relationship.

Unfortunately, the computer world has traditionally imposed hierarchy on everything. Most of the computer world is committed to a metaphysic of hierarchy. Files, directories, and now XML are hierarchical.1 This is not just a philosophical position. It’s an IMposition.