This nOde last updated November 27th, 2004 and is permanently morphing...
(9 Ix (Jaguar) / 17 Keh (Red) - 74/260 - 188.8.131.52.14)
An idyllic, beautiful place.
[After Xanadu,, a place in "Kubla Khan," a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.]
"The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device..."
-- Samuel Coleridge, "Kubla Kahn"
IF YOU ARE READING THIS PAGE, then you are already an acolyte of Ted Nelson's religion -- a theology built not out of words or ideas exactly, but of references and links. The idea of "hypertext," a term first coined by Nelson in 1965, may have been sketched in various forms before, but its first wild exegesis came in 1981 with Nelson's manifesto, _Literary Machines_.
"Forty years from now (if the human species survives), there will be hundreds of thousands of file servers," Nelson wrote in the prelude. "And there will be hundreds of millions of simultaneous users...All this is manifest destiny. There is no point in arguing it, either you see it or you don't." Less than two decades later, the Web has made much of his ambitious speculations commonplace: textual links stringing together a global net of file servers, traversed by millions of users.
Structured like a collection of brilliant Post-It notes, Literary Machines details the construction of his master-machine, a encyclopedic nest of information called "Xanadu." (Nelson released multiple beta versions, but never a final product.) The network of inter and intra-connected documents was to be the ultimate research device, development tool, cultural event -- as well as a financial boon for the authors whose work resided on it.
Nelson explicitly imagined Xanadu as the first real incarnation of Vannevar Bush's Memex device. Reading _Literary Machines_, you can't help feel the need for the system Nelson lays out: the mad organization of the book itself -- with its restless transitions and MacDraw diagrams unhappily jailed on the page -- makes its own great case for "Xanadu."
- Austin Bunn for FEED.
"Ted Nelson's hatred of conventional structure made him difficult to educate. Bored and disgusted by school, he once plotted to stab his seventh-grade teacher with a sharpened screwdriver, but lost his nerve at the last minute and walked out of the classroom, never to return. On his long walk home, he came up with the four maxims that have guided his life: most people are fools, most authority is malignant, god does not exist, and everything is wrong."
- Gary Wolf in "The Curse of Xanadu," _WIRED_ 3.06, June 1995.
first mention of Xanadu in Usenet:
Subject: request for pointers
Date: 1981-11-04 22:21:46 PST
>From RYLAND@SRI-KL Wed Nov
4 21:52:47 1981
I'm looking for pointers to overview articles on NLS and Ted Nelson's Xanadu/Hypertext (or whatever he calls it). Also, is there a paper on ZOG generally available?