Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Literary Machines Reprint

Theodor Holm Nelson

A mythical text in the areas of computer media and literature, Literary Machines by Theodor "Ted" Nelson has been reprinted again. A book I have long wanted to read, but have never been able to afford (check out $191 on Amazon)

Literary Machines
by Theodor Holm Nelson
Mindful Press
Distributed by Eastgate Systems Inc
ISBN 0-89347-062-7

An incredible multisequential volume about inventing hypertext, reforming copyright, reimagining quotation, and reworking education and reading. It extends from the viscous soup of the politics of computing to the nuts and bolts of how a hypertext system can, for instance, represent arbitrarily large integers compactly. The systems humanist is presented as an alternative to the techie “noid” and humanist “fluffy.” Nelson proposed to reshape literacy and publishing far more profoundly than Haussman altered Paris. Although he admits that a next-generation system might be needed at some point, the general approach is to think about the problem long and hard, devise a more or less flawless system, and then just implement it, never iterating. We should be glad that Xanadu was sketched, not completed. The dynamic, incisive, and continually revised and evolving writings of Ted Nelson have participated in thought and culture in a way that no crystalline, fully armed and operational literary machine could have. (From GXA)

I have asked the university library to buy it.....

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