Ted Nelson: Can’t do Arithmetic

Nelson said. “I still can’t add up a checkbook: I can add a column of figures five times, get four different answers, and none of them will be right.

.. Dyslexia, ADD, dyslexia, bi-polar, etc. came the replies. I have concluded that most visionaries in the learning field have Jimmy Swaggart syndrome brought on by trying to solve the world’s learning disorders.

Xanadu’s shortcomings (from Swedish)

The developments took this turn is at least partly to attribute the shortcomings and idiosyncrasies that characterized Xanaduprojektet:

  • A widespread amateurism among employees (Nelson himself included).
  • An inability to identify a clear target group that would take the system in use and popularize it (Nelson and his hacker colleagues have pushed imagine themselves Xanadu users as a collection of self-taught programmers).
  • A monumental disinterest in computer programming ring “front end”, that is, the side facing the user, and is colloquially become known as the interface or user interface.
  • An excessive preoccupation with copyright issues (Nelson’s Xanadu would operate as a commercial network, much like a traditional phone companies, which would pay for each time quotes conditioned (see transclusion) a document. This carefree cut-and-pasting (cut -and-paste ) that have come to characterize much of the WWW , in other words, would not be allowed.
  • A strong fixation on text media on auditory and visual media expense (Nelson’s continued aversion to non-textual media, evidenced by his various writings on the web).

Ted Nelson: And that way lies madness?

Ted Nelson’s 70th Birthday Lecture – Part 5 of 15:


  • one is to say what is the real problem .. and that way lies madness
  • and the other is to say, lets just throw in some stuff we have lying around

The issue is that there is no determinate order in which to say things.

What I find most atrocious about Xerox Parc is what they did to cut and past.

The purpose of hypertext was to make visible really complicated documents