"...Also today I came across the latest project of a man who wants to tear down Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web and replace it with his own vision. It used to be known as Xanadu, but has since morphed into Transliterature, A Humanist Design. I am of course referring to Ted Nelson, who invented the term 'hypertext' in 1965 and is generally regarded as a computing pioneer.

Ted Nelson recently wrote an essay about 'Indirect Documents', which got Slashdotted today. In the essay Nelson outlines why (in his opinion) the Xanadu project failed and he explains his new vision for Transliterature. He takes a number of potshots at Tim Berners-Lee's WWW on the way, e.g.:

'Why don't I like the web? I hate its flapping and screeching and emphasis on appearance; its paper-simulation rectangles of Valuable Real Estate, artifically created by the NCSA browser, now hired out to advertisers; its hierarchies exposed and imposed; its untyped one-way links only from inside the document. (The one-way links hidden under text were a regrettable simplification of hypertext which I assented to in '68 on the HES project. But that's another story.) Only trivial links are possible; there is nothing to support careful annotation and study; and, of course, there is no transclusion.'

Ted Nelson is certainly an original and I'm glad he's still around to throw spanners in the works. I've written about him before and I'm sure I will again, Web 2.0 or not.


(Excerpted From: Read/Write Web.)

My thoughts on the commentary above:

There is nothing fundamentally incompatible between Ted Nelson's pursuits and future incarnation's of the Web. None whatsoever -- we are simply working our way through an process. The process in question is what I call "standards driven ubiquity" (becoming de facto at Internet Speed). Remember Sun's "The Network is the Computer" vision? Well, without a "Computer" in mind-space you can't think in terms of "Operating Systems". Thats all changing, because today we are gradually beginning to accept the imminent reality that "The Internet is the Operating System" and not Windows/UNIX/Mac OS X/Others. Ahem! And after the Operating System what comes next? I think a set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and I think we know what that is (in all of its controversial glory), the very thing we refer to as Web 2.0 (the APIs for the Internet Operating System).

Note: In addition to the Computer, Operating System, and Application Programming Interfaces, we also have those frequently misunderstood and under-appreciated workhorses called "Databases" in place (but we still call them Web Sites for now). And by the way, "Internet Filesystem" has been there forever, but for some reason we can't see WebDAV in all its current and future glory (that will change very soon also!).

Ted and TBL are cool with each (whether they know it or not)! I see no mutual exclusivity in their collective visions (IMHO) :-)