The Web’s Creator Looks to Reinvent It

At the session on Tuesday, computer scientists talked about how new payment technologies could increase individual control over money. For example, if people adapted the so-called ledger system by which digital currencies are used, a musician might potentially be able to sell records without intermediaries like Apple’s iTunes. News sites might be able to have a system of micropayments for reading a single article, instead of counting on web ads for money.

.. “Ad revenue is the only model for too many people on the web now,” Mr. Berners-Lee said. “People assume today’s consumer has to make a deal with a marketing machine to get stuff for ‘free,’ even if they’re horrified by what happens with their data. Imagine a world where paying for things was easy on both sides.”

.. Mr. Kahle’s Internet Archive, which exists on a combination of grants and fees from digitizing books for libraries, operates the Wayback Machine, which serves as a record of discontinued websites or early versions of pages.

To make that work now, Mr. Kahle has to search and capture a page, then give it a brand new web address. With the right kind of distributed system, he said, “the archive can have all of the versions, because there would be a permanent record located across many sites.”

.. “The web is already decentralized,” Mr. Berners-Lee said. “The problem is the dominance of one search engine, one big social network, one Twitter for microblogging. We don’t have a technology problem, we have a social problem.”

Philosophy of Hypertext: Ted Nelson, pg 26

Part 2.
INFINITIES OF CONNECTION:
The 1958 Schematics Paper

In 1958, at the age of twenty, in my third year at Swarthmore College, I wrote an unusual term paper. I worked on it very hard. The paper was late, being handed in well past the deadline. It was brash, playful, hard to understand, sweeping in scope, vastly ambitious, and sloppily expressed. Looked at from today’s perspective, it may have been rather original and perhaps ahead of its time. (To be discussed on page 39 ff.)

The paper, entitled “Schematics, Systematics, Normatics,” is included here as Appendix A, as scanned from the original. (Unfortunately some pages had to be scanned from old-fashioned hectographic masters, and two of the pages are not completely readable at present.)

I believe the paper got a B+.

The paper was a somewhat inspired and sweeping, but not fully baked, attempt to put together a new philosophical system of thought, logic and expression. It was confusingly stated and hastily finished. It should be thought of as a daring leap of thought by a brash third-year college student. It is phrased irritatingly in a semi-private language, with strange and utterly unclear allusions to various fields. I apologize. Much of this was due to impatience coupled with a great sense of inspiration.

Philosophy of Hypertext: Ted Nelson, pg 22

CONVENTIONS OF WRITING

According to the usual conventions of writing, the author chooses a subject, perhaps a central point to make, and organizes the notes to make that point. We have various expectations about this.

But at the deeper level, these conventions of writing make no sense. If all the points are of possible interest to some reader, and the boundaries of a piece of writing are completely arbitrary, why must there be boundaries? Why cannot
the structure of a written piece continue in many directions, following the connections away from the supposed central point or theme?

This is the sort of point that was made in the Twentieth Century by such “stream-of-consciousness” authors as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. Just as there are no boundaries to experience or to thought, there need not be any boundaries to stories either.

FOOTNOTES

Footnotes are small initiatives to reach out of some arrangement of content, but they are extremely limited, like hands reaching out of jailhouse windows, constrained by a different plan.

CONVENTIONAL ORGANIZING

Conventional documents are often hierarchically organized, based on numerous conventions as to what are acceptable subjects and their boundaries. For example, there are conventional formats for written reports in the army and many other organizations, and this can simplify many writing tasks. But in the general case- say, writing an article for the New Yorker, if you are lucky and talented enough- any sentence could in principle be at the beginning or the end. There

Philosophy of Hypertext: Ted Nelson, pg 66

would be better if only it were completely different, and this has led to many disappointing experiments.)

Designers were always my special heroes, starting when I was a small boy with Leonardo daVinci and Frank Lloyd Wright. At the age of nine or ten I was very taken with Wright’s “Fallingwater” building, which has a stream running through it, a radical and beautiful design. Inspired by this, I designed in my mind, and wrote up for the school paper, a house that would be completely under water.

I read about Buckminster Fuller when I was eleven, in 1 949, long before he became well-known. He was a designer who said that we must create radically new designs to live on a planet with dwindling resources. Following Bucky Fuller’s point of view, I believed that everything would be far better if only it could be redesigned completely.

Many other designers were my heroes: Raymond Loewy, who designed the 1947 Studebaker and an earlier, muscular-looking locomotive engine that practically defined the term “streamlined train”; Bernard Rudofsky, who mocked our systems of clothing; Charles Eames and his wife Ray, who for many years were principal designers for IBM.

In high school I was bemused- and amused- by the designs of Peter Schlumbohm, who designed the Chemex coffeemaker, the Chemex cigarette­ holder, and the Chemex electric fan (which cleaned the air considerably). Each of these used a disk of filter paper every day; Schlumbohm loved filter paper. It was a wonderful example of an idea filling the universe. I thought this man’s obsession was quite charming. This to me has always been the model of an idea expanding to fill the universe.