Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Hypertext Creator: Structure of the Web 'Completely Wrong'

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the then-just-build-a-new-one dept.

The Internet 357

angry tapir writes "The creator of hypertext has criticized the design of the World Wide Web, saying that Tim Berners-Lee's creation is 'completely wrong,' and that Windows, Macintosh and Linux have 'exactly the same' approach to computing. Ted Nelson, founder of first hypertext project, Project Xanadu, went on to say, 'It is a strange, distorted, peculiar and difficult limited system... the browser is built around invisible links — you can see something to click on but you’ve got nowhere else to go.'"

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Smokin' (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35827788)

I'll have some of whatever he's been smoking.

Re:Smokin' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828046)

awesome man .. awesome

Confucius say: (3, Insightful)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828134)

man who says impossible shouldn't interrupt man who does

So Teddy boy comes up with a concept, theorizes around, accomplishing (near) zilch building his ivory towers out of clouds for 20 years and he's complaining about the 50 million bazillion websites people have made, some of them actually useful? Jeeze, at least pretend to be relevant by helping pound a stake through the heart of Flash.

Re:Confucius say: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828174)

Your statement is not factually accurate. Ted Nelson has been sitting in his ivory tower producing nothing for 50 years, not 20.

Re:Smokin' (4, Insightful)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828202)

I think what he's suggesting is this:

Many documents are composed of parts of other documents. If I write an essay I might quote from source texts, scientific papers, other people's work on the subject, interviews I've conducted, etc, and I'll add my own ideas around this. At the moment, I duplicate (retype) any source material and provide a link to it. The material I've linked to doesn't automatically link back. Instead, I could make a link using his system which includes the text from the version of the document I look at, and provides a two-way link.

It's a nice idea, but unless you can make it easy to create documents with all these links (and ensure they don't need any maintenance) I don't see how it would catch on.

Wikipedia's software is close in some respects -- you can include pages (but not, AFAIIA, selected bits of pages) in other pages. There aren't links in the UI, but it would be trivial to add them.

Wikipedia's not so bad (1)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827814)

The first time I saw hypertext (in lynx), I thought it was, basically, what was to later be realized in Wikipedia: something where most words are hyper-linked and take you to more information about that word.

That's what I thought hypertext was all about. And really, isn't Wikipedi pretty awesome, in form, if not always in content?

Re:Wikipedia's not so bad (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827940)

I feel the exact same way. I have no issue with hypertext itself. But the latest complex UIs and attempts at making desktop applications with hypertext definitely feel awkward and hackish as a developer. I prefer the traditional client/server model for apps which have that level of complexity.

Re:Wikipedia's not so bad (3, Interesting)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828130)

Basically he's arguing for bringing that even further. For example, in Wikipedia, there's a separate main page and discussion page, and on the discussion page, things have to be categorized and organized. Under his model, instead of having this, a person that wished to lodge a new comment or question about a certain bit of text would highlight the text they were commenting on, do some sort of drag-and-drop-like operation to comment on it, and write their comments.

Then another user browsing the comments would do so by browsing the main document, and hovering over a word they would be able to see a list of comments made on "phrases" (using the term loosely) containing that word.

I suspect the people that dream of wikifying the legislative process have similar ideas about granular live documents, as that would be where this type capability would be needed most obviously.

WTF? (3, Insightful)

PvtVoid (1252388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827816)

From TFA:

“[My approach] would be entirely different from today's documents where you look at one page at a time and you can see a ribbon or beam connecting documents together,” he said. “Having to refer to a paragraph and a sentence in an e-mail is just so barbaric when you could just strike it out and make the connection between sentences.”

Is it just me, or is this just completely incoherent? What the hell is he talking about?

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35827848)

Is it just me, or is this just completely incoherent? What the hell is he talking about?

We'll never know, I suspect. Looks to me like the journalist picked phrases at random out of long interview. I'd love to think that there's a full and accurate transcript somewhere, but I doubt it.

Re:WTF? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35827878)

It's not just you.

He's like "I can do better - but I won't tell anyone how."

Or maybe the journalist didn't understand what he said and picked completely worthless fill-sentences.

Re:WTF? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35827902)

Sounds like he is talking about Google Wave...

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35827932)

So, he's out of good ideas then.

Re:WTF? (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828232)

He did think up his approach in 1960, even if it took 47 years to reach version 1.0. And hypertext wasn't the only thing he came up with. Teledildonics is another invention of his that is yet to reach it's peak.

Re:WTF? (4, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827910)

Practically everything we take for granted about the Internet was what I'd call a "WTF proposition" when it was proposed.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35827912)

I agree. I don't know which is true - does this guy really have no substance to go along with his attempt at sounding smart/controversial, or is the article just really bad and therefore failing to include the substance. Either way, there is no substance.

Re:WTF? (2)

khr (708262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827924)

Is it just me, or is this just completely incoherent? What the hell is he talking about?

It's not just you... I don't understand what he's talking about, either... "Strike it out and make the connection between sentences"? I have no idea what that means...

Or maybe he means not writing "refer to paragraph 7, sentence 3 of document X" but do something else? But that's style, not a technical limitation, we can do things like that now, copy/paste, link, embed, etc...

Beats me what he's talking about...

Re:WTF? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828086)

It's nomenclature. Substitute "highlight it" for "strike it out" and it should make sense.

If I understand this all correctly (doubtful) what TBL is proposing is much closer to the sort of hypertext proposed by Jef Raskin and implemented (somewhat) on the Canon Cat.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828190)

Strike out is usually nomenclature for remove or delete (there's even a strike element in HTML that does this, usually styled to display text with a line drawn through it). I thought he was suggesting something about removing the unecessarily verbose padding and leaving the raw data, but it's really hard to tell from what was provided.

Re:WTF? (4, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827926)

His concept is effectively a free-form multi-document interface where hyperlinks open into a new window. That description doesn't do it justice though. Think of it like each block of content, each paragraph, each page, each image, is not limited to the context which it is in. You can do, as the quote suggest, strike out some content that is between the two pieces you want, or branch out diagnally.

Think if it more like a 6 degrees of Kevin Baccon interface, only for every piece of content. Wikipedia is the most obvious example of where it would be useful. Being able to see the content of mid-sentence links with out having to leave the page you are on.

It's a pretty cool concept, but not big enough (IMO) to displace the current browsing experience.


Re:WTF? (5, Informative)

AmElder (1385909) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828010)

No one can be told what Project Xanadu is. You have to see it for yourself. [] I found that video on youtube of Ted Nelson showing off Xanadu a few years ago.

He might be a mad man, but he's an interesting madman.

Re:WTF? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828230)

Maybe I'm missing something through lack of sound, but it looks like a horrible mess that's not scalable for any relatively complex source material. It's an interesting idea but I'll take new tab + web search over his proposed alternative.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828024)

Can't you do something similar to that with PHP panels? He's talking about modular web pages, right?

For example: On a web page you have multiple panels. On the main panel in a paragraph there is a link to a term. You click on the link (Mid sentence) and it opens up the link in a side panel on the same page. The Main panel holds the paragraph you were reading and it doesn't change. I build things like that into my websites all the time. Just a simple IFrame.
You can follow the link without leaving the page.

Is that what he's talking about?

Re:WTF? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828082)

You can already do this. right click, select open in new tab/window. or the creator of the app can add a target to the link, or you could write a plugin that appends a target to every link, or the developer can use some fancy ajax to make a popup with an iframe appear with the linked page.

There are so many ways to do this already, the only hard part is deciding which one you actually want.

Re:WTF? (4, Interesting)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828146)

In one of Asimov's books he describes doing research/reading in the Imperial Library of Trantor; I think that's what this guy is trying to describe. Links become basically infinite depth background trees on any word or phrase or sentence or paragraph or whatever level you want.

Which would be amazing, in an academic context. But I'm not sure it would be more useful in a wider context than what we have now.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35827944)

Your quotes make complete sense to me

Re:WTF? (4, Funny)

z_gringo (452163) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827956)

He is a genius. We just can't even comprehend what it is he wants to say.

Actually, I think he is smoking crack. I didn't even get past the headline before it stopped making any sense.

Netcraft confirms it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828226)

Actually, I think he is smoking crack. I didn't even get past the headline before it stopped making any sense.

Click the link and have a look at Nelson's photo.
That expression on his face.... speaks volumes.

He's gotta be on drugs.

Re:WTF? (5, Informative)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827964)

Project Xanadu: Original 17 rules []

6. Every document can contain links of any type including virtual copies ("transclusions") to any other document in the system accessible to its owner.

Youtube demo [] (the actual demo starts at about 3:15)

Re:WTF? (2)

Splod (40032) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828144)

Hadn't seen this before. It's impressive, but I can't help but wonder what the editing environment is like. It's demanding enough to currently create a highly hyperlinked document (in terms of UI/window management and keeping track of where you are). I can't conceive of how to make a user-friendly editing environment for the Xanadu-type docs.

Re:WTF? (3)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828208)

Guy sounds like the height of arrogance... "zOMG, you're not doing it my way, the way I think, therefore it is wrong."

Really, his demonstration is just a paper-like source document with a paper-like side document of related or identical material... there's nothing new or interesting about it... and the navigation in 3D of the paper-like documents looks clumsy and ill-conceived...

I like the idea of having parallel text that can be expanded on the fly, but I was thinking about that before I even saw this steaming pile of turds called Xanadu...

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35827978)

From TFA:

“[My approach] would be entirely different from today's documents where you look at one page at a time and you can see a ribbon or beam connecting documents together,” he said. “Having to refer to a paragraph and a sentence in an e-mail is just so barbaric when you could just strike it out and make the connection between sentences.”

Is it just me, or is this just completely incoherent? What the hell is he talking about?

Yeah, me too. His ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to his newsletter.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828036)

No reading the reminded me of the end of billy madison. Where he stood up and made a speech about nothing. The principal says something to the effect of "we are all dumber for listening to that"

Re:WTF? (1)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828040)

He envisions something like a more advanced semantic web. Think of Wikipedia plugged into Wolfram Alpha, but instead of static HTML pages everything is stored as linked concepts. So if you ask for information on Romania, all the linked information on Romania would be generated in an abstract based on information related to Romania. You would also get all the information related to Romania - the diaspora, eastern European politics, etc... If you clicked on Romanian Diaspora, it would bring up all the relevant information on that topic, probably divided up by geographic region. Or you could ask for it divided up by what industry the diaspora was involved in - or what the second language was, or whatever.

The underlying idea is you ask the computer for information and the computer finds it for you, instead of you having to find it yourself amongst lots of desperate and arbitrarily assembled information.

I'm probably not explaining it as well as Nelson, but I think it's close.

Re:WTF? (3, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828302)

Its a nice concept but where it falls down is meta data. You need good metadata on every document when its stored to make this sort of thing work. The computer does not know Romania, the country from some girl who happened to be named Romania. The trouble there are really one two solutions,

A) Make end users actually tag things correctly, and completely
B) User mind boggling amounts of computer power to do the sort of deep statistical analysis, like IBM's Watson to categorize things.

B will likely work in the near future, A has been tried a thousand times there is no sense in going down that path anymore.

Re:WTF? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828310)

But the information would still be disparate and arbitrarily assembled. Unless you have some governing body deciding what is and isn't allowed on the internet, your scientific research into the biology of the feline species is still going to get cluttered with people posting LOLcats, and your research into the effects of the sun on skin will still pollute your data with ads for anti-ageing creams. We could have what he's suggesting right now with the technologies we have at our disposal and minimal development effort if he could solve the wider issue of how to prevent cross pollution of data - and if he could do that he'd be the next Google.

Re:WTF? (1)

Calsar (1166209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828064)

I believe he's referring to Transclusion where you can include content from other sources as part of your document. He's tends to ramble a bit, but it makes more sense if you understand where he's coming from. I read and his book and did some research on him when I was working on my master's thesis for my CS degree. He spent a lot of time studing the nature of literature and how information builds upon a foundation of information from other sources and how these information sources relate to one another. He has some interesting ideas, but many of them are hard to implement. One of the reasons the Web took off as opposed to other sharing technoliges at the time is because it is so simple.

Re:WTF? (0)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828090)

He sounds like my old college roommate, rambling on at 2 am after he'd smoked a bunch of weed. He thought he was being profound and insightful, but in reality he was just spouting a bunch of pseudo-philosophical gibberish. "You see, we're all BEING, man...that's what it's all about...BEING. That's you, that's me...we're all just BEING."

Re:WTF? (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828142)

He is talking about the same thing as code reuse : information should be referenced instead of being copied.

In his idea (and I like that) when you answer to an email, the information effectively transmitted should be something like "[quote char=1438:5661] lol" instead of a verbatim copy of the original text without any mean to find the whole email.

This conceptually more satisfying approach require a different architecture and also (IMHO) a completely different legal framework, and I think this later point makes it impossible to see it happen in my lifetime.

Re:WTF? (1)

manitee (2974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828158)

Hah thats exactly what I thought.

Re:WTF? (2)

Megane (129182) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828186)

It's called Transclusion. [] Using modern terms, it's basically taking text from "the cloud" and inserting it as a reference into your document. How long it takes to reach that transcluded data, and what happens when "the cloud" evaporates is what makes it into ivory tower rocket science.

Re:WTF? (2)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828196)

[My approach] would be entirely different from today's documents where you look at one page at a time and you can see a ribbon or beam connecting documents together,â he said. âoeHaving to refer to a paragraph and a sentence in an e-mail is just so barbaric when you could just strike it out and make the connection between sentences.

Is it just me, or is this just completely incoherent? What the hell is he talking about?

Thats what happens when you try to communicate without paragraphs and sentences. Ideas and meaning becoming so entangled that you lose the context needed to understand the message, but I'm sure he has a brilliant way around that which is revolutionary and not at all confusing.

question (1)

kayumi (763841) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827818)

So what would be the right way?

opening a URL is like going to the store (3, Insightful)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827820)

you dont know whats inside until you get there and look around, sometimes you have a good idea whats there and can be predictable at websites (or stores) you frequently go to, but when opening unknown URLs (or visiting new stores) you have no idea until you get there

Re:opening a URL is like going to the store (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828026)

And you have no idea what you got, until YOU GOT IT!

Except I have never gotten a Trojan horse, unknowingly from a store. Rogue Active X controls are like getting the plague....

Even with CoolIris, and click through Advertising ( both inventions of Nelsons ), its still depressingly archaic.

He had a dream of so much more. He is one of those nice geniuses...unlike RMS who just needs to be left alone.

He is also dead on about OSs. Even linux has become a coagulated clot of code.

Re:opening a URL is like going to the store (0)

rabun_bike (905430) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828312)

I would say it is like going to a physical store with horse side blinders on where every product is behind a separate door in the store. The door has a name but you are not sure what is inside so you open the door and behold there is the product along with a bunch of other doors with names on them. After going a few doors deep you are completely lost but not without enjoying looking at some products. Even though you are lost it isn't like the experience is all bad. You then have to get out so you cut a whole in the ceiling and climb out on the roof or perhaps you simple shoot yourself in the head to get out of web link hell, shutdown the browser, wake up and feed the crying baby or for most slashdotters you start writing email code for the boss.

so then what do you suggest? (2)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827830)

you can see something to click on but youâ(TM)ve got nowhere else to go.

I assume by "nowhere else to go" they mean you are going to just go to another web page. So, what else would they suggest?

I would disagree with even that assessment, some clickables trigger downloads, or open a new window that contains only an image, or a video. Some clickable downloads trigger on download complete to launch an application, start an installation, etc. But for the most part, clicking on a link in content takes you to other content, with more clickable links. Seems like a good thing to me?

How is Ted suggesting it should really work? Clicking a link causes your car to start? Or a pizza to land on your desk? (ok we can kinda already do that)

And his solution is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35827844)

It's great to challenge the status quo, but the article has NO mention of how he'd do it differently. As a result, he just sounds like an angry man who didn't get his way. Anyone can criticize but the true visionaries will create a solution and often times will know what the end user wants before they do.

The Xanadu Project? (4, Interesting)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827850)

You mean that thing that's supposed to be superior to the World Wide Web, but that's been in development hell for the last fifty years? (Duke Nukem Forever, most delayed software ever? Ha.) Someone needs to tell this guy that it doesn't matter how superior your invention is if no one ever sees it. Like Steve Jobs said, "Real artists ship."

Re:The Xanadu Project? (4, Informative)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827890)

What's worse is that they did release something that they themselves said was essentially a watered-down, "test" application (sorry, can't remember its name). It made Lotus Notes seem like Notepad by comparison; if that was the "watered down" version of Xanadu, then it seems clear that Xanadu is something only this guy would be able to fully understand...or use.

Re:The Xanadu Project? (4, Funny)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828076)

It made Lotus Notes seem like Notepad by comparison

It made the world's worst email program seem like the world's worst text editor?

I'm afraid I can't understand analogies when they don't involve cars.

Re:The Xanadu Project? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828284)

It made Lotus Notes seem like Notepad by comparison

It made the world's worst email program seem like the world's worst text editor?

That can't be. I'm pretty sure emacs wasn't invented by Ted Nelson.

Re:The Xanadu Project? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35827914)

Nonsense. The online version of Duke Nukem Forever accessed by the Xanadu browser that runs on Hurd will be the absolute pinnacle of gaming.

What is Project Xanadu (2)

chebucto (992517) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827852)

I remember seeing this guy in Cringley's Triumph of the Nerds 2.0. I seem to remember his Xanadu system failing because it is exceedingly difficult to use in practice, however useful it sound in theory.

Can one of the greybeards here enlighten me as to what, exactly, Xanadu was?

Re:What is Project Xanadu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35827898)

Xanadu was a place where Olivia Newton-John performed. :)

Re:What is Project Xanadu (4, Informative)

RingDev (879105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827958)

Correction, what Xanadu "is" ;) []

It's basically an MDI for browsing where links open horrizontally and scroll with the page. It's a clugy attempt at what he is talking about.


relics of the ancients (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828198)

No Xanadu was a futurmistic house in Orlando made of spray foam insulation. It has since been demolished and lost in the mists of time. Among its wonders was it that was managed by these things called personal computers. (see, not totally OT)

Re:What is Project Xanadu (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35827960)

The Curse of Xanadu []

Re:What is Project Xanadu (4, Interesting)

tomhuxley (951364) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828044)

If you think of Xanadu as a highly available redundant P2P document system mixing in TBL's Semantic Web and adding more automation, you get a bit closer to what Ted Nelson was trying to do with Xanadu. []

Section two of the FAQ covers what a Xanadu system was supposed to entail.

This article (originally on Wired) covers some of the controversies that have broiled up: []

If you can find Nelson's 1982 Datamation article it is pretty interesting but I couldn't find it anymore after some quick Google searches (YMMV).

I'm not sure what he's getting at? (3, Informative)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827858)

He lists several very abstract complaints, without giving an example of at least one way in which he thinks it could be differently, and done better?

I'm not in complete disagreement with him that the web could be improved. For one thing, we've given website creators so much control over presentation, that there's no standard 'look' to hyperlinks anymore - ever been to a website and not even *realized* that one of the elements in the page was a link to something else?

Also, there's too much problem of link obfuscation - the problem of the user having absolutely no idea where a link will take them, because when they hover the mouse over the link, it just shows some useless javascript, or the site designer used some javascript to make something which is not a link behave like a link, but not actually give the user any feedback about where it goes to, or the link is rendered by Flash, and Flash never tells you where a link goes. I just hate that.

But, I'm not really sure that's what this guy was talking about. In fact, his complaints were *so* abstract, I have no idea what he was complaining about?

Re:I'm not sure what he's getting at? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828154)

Can't this be fixed on the browser side? For every javascript link, clone the state of the page and run the javascript with no side-effects until you find out where it leads to, then display that at the bottom of the page. For everything that is clickable, run the algorithm above to determine whether it's a link or not, and if it's a link, highlight it in some way.

Files are based on books, documents, etc. (1)

bkmoore (1910118) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827868)

When you get down to it, files are based on documents, books, scrolls, etc. So by implication, the first known clay tablets being written in Sumeria, one could say our model of information storage and retrieval dates to about that time. I don't know how one could do it differently or better. Is he advocating having computers display spinning colorful text and mathematical gibberish like in the movies?

Re:Files are based on books, documents, etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828192)

I'm just waiting for the Wired. []

Uh... (2)

Aerorae (1941752) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827870)

"The people who run the technology the last thing they want is something new to deal with,”

I dunno, I deal with end-users all the time and for the most part they aren't exactly eager to learn new software/hardware concepts either...

Yawn (3, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827874)

Yet another visionary wanting to do something different just for the sake being different. It's become popular lately to claim that particular industries or areas are doing it "all wrong", because naturally, if their whole process is "wrong", and you know the "right" way, then you're a genius right?

In reality, some things haven't changed in a long time because we've figured out something that works well. Every time I hear one of these "revolutionary" interface ideas they work well for the couple of examples that their creators can cite, but typically fall flat when you try to then adapt it to the entire world of computing.

Re:Yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828264)

Yawn...yet another internet nobody who thinks he's seen it all and done it all commenting on the visionaries.

I guarantee Ted's ideas are older than you, not that I expect anyone from the iPhone generation to know shit about shit outside what's in the App store.

Re:Yawn (1)

hsmyers (142611) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828274)

In reality we went the way we did because Ted's way was too hard. Not because the way chosen was better. You also sound as though he just arrived on the scene--- he didn't; read the damn article and look the guy up on Google before you demonstrate what a blithering idiot you are. You might also look at your own damn sig line and think of it as a mirror...

Re:Yawn (2)

mattpalmer1086 (707360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828286)

Ted Nelson really pioneered hypertext concepts - there is no being different for the sake of being different here. What he originally proposed is different to the web - it is far more general and powerful (and not really related to the interface - more about the underlying information model).

If anything, the reality is the opposite of what you suggest. The web is really quite poor at doing a whole bunch of things - but it's what we've got, so clever people have spent time adapting the world of computing to it.

He wrote a very entertaining (if grumpy and a somewhat biased) book about all the things which are wrong with computing called "Geeks bearing gifts".

Oh Really? (2, Insightful)

Son of Byrne (1458629) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827884)

I think that he poses valid points in the article and perhaps he said more that this little blurb of an article didn't relate, but I have 7 words for this person who wishes to remain relevant by telling everyone that we're doing it wrong:

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

Am I missing something? (2)

fermat1313 (927331) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827892)

So he hates the WWW, current OSs, and apparently apple pie and Grandma. Does he have any real constructive ideas he wishes to share with us? Either he's just talking out of his ass, or TFA is an extremely light fluff piece. Yeah, you hate what's out there. Where are your ideas for something better?

Perhaps this is why Xanadu has been vaporware for what, 50 years?

Jesus Christ (0)

Moderator (189749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827908)

I read TFA and I have no idea what this senile guy is babbling about.

“Computing is made up of files and directories and that’s a tradition left behind from the 1940s that no one questions,” he said. “Another tradition is that one file equals one document.”

No conspiracy here by IT people, this works because it MAKES SENSE. Would you rather have one file equal several documents? Or what about a file pointing to nothing /dev/null?

Having to refer to a paragraph and a sentence in an e-mail is just so barbaric when you could just strike it out and make the connection between sentences.

I don't know where to even begin with that statement.

The only instance where I can see the structure of the web being completely wrong is implementing closed solutions in lieu of using established protocols...IRC for Chat, NNTP for discussion, FTP for file transfers, etc.

To most, Xanadu was an Olivia Newton John Movie (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35827916)

The problem w/ Ted Nelson's vision of a structured hypertext system w/ verified knowledge is that he hasn't been able to get from funding to actual, workable, profitable implementation. Tim Berners-Lee fought that battle and gave up, which gave his system the win when he changed ``universal resource locator'' to ``uniform...''. People aren't librarians, they aren't disciplined and they won't file every little bit which they write properly by category --- that's why search engines came into existence.

The world wide web works because it allows anyone access and doesn't force monetization, but it places on the user the burden of evaluating the web page accessed in terms of credibility, &c.


Re:To most, Xanadu was an Olivia Newton John Movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828102)

and this is a tricky thing (that Nelson didn't really describe well).. who's going to do all that indexing and verification, particularly the latter. In the sciences there's a process of peer review over decades/centuries, where a published work gets commented on, confirmed, refuted, enhanced, etc. (I'm not talking about the short term peer review that determines whether you get published by a journal...that's more editorial content review by peers)

And the sciences are the easy case.

What about politics or social issues? Who's the "arbiter of verification"? The government could actually do a fairly decent job and has the resources, but will always be tempted or suspected of bending the verification (a'la MinTruth in 1984). Crowd-sourcing a'la Wikipedia has its own set of issues (who has the authority)

Maybe in 2100, the classical peer review model will have evolved to match the spreading web of knowledge. And I'm not so sure that Nelson's complaint about "files" is entirely valid. The "view" that one gets on a web page is comprised of many independent pieces, which may be (transparently) reused in multiple places, which is already breaking down the "file/page" model.

There *is* a problem with non-static identifiers. A true URN should let you access the resource forever (or find that it no longer exists), but modern "dynamic content" schemes tend to break that horribly. And the URN concept needs to be richer.. rather than a reference to a page with bus schedules, one should have a way to refer to the underlying data in some consistent fashion (not that the format of the data has to be consistent with other sources of data, but how to get to it does, and the format of a given piece of data shouldn't change.. i.e. no rearranging the bus schedule... only the numbers change, not the structure)

Re:To most, Xanadu was an Olivia Newton John Movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828114)

Lettering Art in Modern Use
Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow.

For all your posts, you should use every letter of the alphabet (not counting the sig). This post almost had it except for 'q'

Nuggets and Fluff (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35827918)

“Windows and Macintosh’s thin veneer makes people think that they are in control of the device,” he said. “But it’s like being given plush toys to play with rather than having control over the structure of a device.”

This is quite true, the other side though is most people don't really want control of their computer they just want it to behave predictably.

“Computing is made up of files and directories and that’s a tradition left behind from the 1940s that no one questions,” he said. “Another tradition is that one file equals one document.”

Not so much, Mac has the concept of documents as directories of many files, MS Word and Open Office both use containers (zip files usually) to treat the many files as a single unit but the document is definitely many files. We certainly have files and directories at the heart of our storage structure, but it's a tradition of organization that goes back further than the 1940s, humans organize data into containers. The cool thing about most OS's (with the exception of DOS based) is that we can create links from one container to another without having to duplicate that data.

"Nelson’s philosophy toward computing is widely reported on being that a user interface should be so simple that in an emergency, a beginner is able to understand it within ten seconds."

Yep, and my kids picked up Windows, Gnome, KDE and Mac user interfaces in roughly that amount of time before kindergarten. UI is not perfect and we're always going to be trying things to get it better but it's pretty good when toddlers can learn it that fast.

Re:Nuggets and Fluff (1)

LordofEntropy (250334) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828072)

"Nelson’s philosophy toward computing is widely reported on being that a user interface should be so simple that in an emergency, a beginner is able to understand it within ten seconds."

Sounds like he's looking for the return of Microsoft's Bob! Time for Melinda Gates to break out that project manager hat and return to her former glory!

What the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35827962)

âoePeople are being lobotomised by the current format of documents and I hope to change that.â

Grampa go back to bed! I told you no blogging before your pills..

(simply wrong)^2 (2)

the agent man (784483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828002)

To claim that something which is obviously usable by millions is simply wrong just has to be simply wrong.

Meh.. (2)

Tei (520358) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828014)

I have a 2.5 years old cousin that can use the iPad and a Wii as good as my father. We are very good at this, the computing devices. Sure, we have made some trade ofs, so the most powerusers lose something (complex hotkey commands), and people good at abstract thinking lose something (the console)... but In the end we have something that is both easy to use, and powerfull. Will anything made by this dude be this balanced?

heh (0)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828018)

They have good crack in Xanadu, have they?

And in other news... (2)

hardgeus (6813) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828020)

Grapes are Sour.

I know a couple of the Xanadudes... (2)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828028)

One thing they've mentioned on many occasions is that 404 errors bug the shit out of them. In the Xanadu system, all links were two-way, and you couldn't end up with a broken reference like that.

What sunk Xanadu, IMHO, is that it was much too ambitious. They were trying to make a framework to present the sum total of human knowledge. Still, some extremely clever work was done on that project, both before and during the Autodesk years.


Re:I know a couple of the Xanadudes... (3, Insightful)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828268)

One thing they've mentioned on many occasions is that 404 errors bug the shit out of them. In the Xanadu system, all links were two-way, and you couldn't end up with a broken reference like that.

How would it be possible to not have 404's unless every document took control (ie. a copy) of every document to which it linked (and subsequently would have to link to everything linked in those linked pages, ad infinitum).

That seems to be the obvious flaw in everything this guy has talked about for 50 years. XanaduSpace is really no different from a web browser with regular links, all that it does is load all linked pages simultaneously and display the linked documents in the background of some 3D view. Real browsers don't do this because they have to deal with the reality that the linked pages are hosted remotely and therefore have latency and bandwidth issues which need to be balanced with the likelihood of a user wanting to actually follow that link.

XanaduSpace's entire concept seems to be predicated on the assumption that all linked content is immediately available and immutable. This obviously cannot work on non-trivial amounts of data. Either it would mean having the entire Internet on your local computer or, slightly more realistically (but altogether more scary), having some kind of central Internet server/database/authority that maintained control of all published documents. Short of an international fascist uprising I don't see that happening.

Hmmm (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828092)

So it is something you just dump something on! It is a big truck! It's not a series of tubes! Someone should tell Ted Stevens he got it wrong.

Hypertext = Qwerty Keyboards (2)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828094)

Qwerty key boards have been shown to be less effective than other layouts, but they are still used for over a century.

Qwerty may not be the best but it is "good enough" to get work and fun done (plus the common command keys just happen to all be on the left hand leaving the right hand free for the mouse/cursor).

Hypertext may be the same sort of thing. New organizational structures may appear, but in the end we still read/link pages/books/articles and audio/video and it seems he's talking about better ways of relevance links.

Lets see Ted Nelson's best shot at what should come next.

When all is said and done, more is said than done.

Re:Hypertext = Qwerty Keyboards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828220)

Aaaah... leave the left hand free for the mouse, eh? What about all the hordes of lefties, like myself, that have felt the oppression of the hegemony from demons such as yourself? ;-)

We need a better reason. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828112)

Lest we forget, the web is based around the current IT infrastructure of the U.S.. How is this web technology going to run on a 56k modem? Current HTML design can run fine on 56k.
Can you imbed movies, Music, allow for SSL certs, or Google analytic?

Nothing will ever change in the web technology unless it is profitable to do so. So, how it is profitable to company's to move to this format?
I don't see anything this offers that current designs can't provide.

Standing on shoulders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828138)

It seems to me that Tim Berners-Lee took something and adapted it to fix a problem, that problem was only recognized by a few. Innovation is what brought about the WWW, but the guy who created HyperText seems to be angry that "his" dream was not realized and that his dream should have become reality. Frankly, day late dollar short, and implementation short. People have novel ideas, it's whether or not they can be realized and by whom...typically they are not one-in-the-same. One will be regarded as the father of the web and will be in hystery books, the other will fade into the never-was project abyss.

Layer 9 Protocol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828166)

Vannevar Bush put forward a new plan to extend memories, MEMEX in 1945.

It was a system to view a information in microfilm to a half transparent screen. He planned to compress information and access it quickly. Bush led the Manhattan project that was an experiment of an atomic bomb. He also made a basis of multimedia at the same time.

John C. Lilly searched the unconsciousness of human by experiment of cutting off the sense by using drugs and an isolation tank. He thought that he was connected to something like an existence in space. He called it ECCO, Earth Code Control Organization which led him. After that, Lilly became to research about dolphins. Dolphins can communicate by ultrasonic waves of wide range in water.Ted Nelson who learned from Vannevar Bush and John C. Lily who were heresy pioneers, claimed a plan "Xanadu" that is a electric library in satellite that can be used from anywhere on earth by electromagnetic waves and an telephone network.

It is an Mongolian utopia where every text culture will exist forever. It is called "Xanadu". Hypertext can make it real in this world.

Ted Nelson will go down in history as a proponent of it.

The earth itself has peculiar electromagnetic waves. There are always resonances at 8 Hz in ELF band between the ground and the ionosphere. It is called "Shuman Effect". It is a brain wave of the earth. But we still don't know how it affects to human.Human's population on earth will become the same number as neurons in brain. Douglas Rachcov claims that it will awake the consciousness of earth itself by connecting humans each other by network. Network has spread so quickly, and it became like neural network in brain. Therefore, the earth itself will become one neural network.

Eiri Masami was a chief research worker in Tachibana lab. He improved the theory of neural network of earth itself. He advocated that every human's unconscious will be connected to awireless network without devices by Shuman effect. He added a function to use Shuman Resonance to the 7th protocol in code on his own discretion.When Tachibana Lab. know it, they dismissed him. One week later, Eiri was found as a dead body run over and killed at the railway on Yamanote line.

Lain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828256)

Is that you?

ugh (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828170)

Ok guy who came up with one good idea 40 years ago and hasn't done anything new since... Thanks for your contribution. But I think you might be a bit out of the loop in regards to what's going on.

When is the release of Xanadu due? (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828218)

Has it been released... or what?

Happy Easter :)

Boo hoo (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828242)

Aww, somebody didn't make a billion dollars even though they are smarter than everyone else.


Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828280)




Stupid Slashdot moderation system disallows all caps, because it's yelling. What if I'm one of the unwashed and I don't have a lower case card installed in my computer?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam nunc enim, lobortis sed tempus a, pharetra quis sapien. Sed ut tortor quam. Integer ullamcorper vestibulum diam a pulvinar. Pellentesque mollis, orci a faucibus faucibus, massa erat sollicitudin ligula, non eleifend turpis libero sit amet magna. Maecenas id ante ut magna consectetur mattis eu vitae nibh. Mauris semper lacinia purus ac pulvinar. Morbi feugiat, ligula eget vulputate pretium, arcu felis aliquam quam, quis ullamcorper diam purus sit amet sem. Etiam euismod varius felis et tempus

so compatibility is bad now? (1)

danlip (737336) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828282)

Windows, Macintosh and Linux have 'exactly the same' approach to computing

So I guess he would prefer that each manufacturer come up with a different approach for the WWW, so that Macs could not read documents created on Windows and vice versa?

Argument Has Lost It's Teeth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828292)

and so apparently has Ted Nelson.

Every 2 years or so, some novice rediscovers Ted Nelson and Xanadu and goes off blindly posting about him/it.

There must be a wooden stake around here somewhere...hmmm...

Bashing file systems because they are "old" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828296)

What's nice about file structures in general is that they are hierarchical. (Files and folders are also a pretty descriptive analogy.)

Sure, you can introduce new concepts to the system (e.g. using high-level object graphs instead of files) or replace them with something simpler (e.g. a flat, file tagging system like in a CMS). That's fine for a single, independent system. But when you want to *combine* environments from multiple vendors, it's hard to scale.

For example, 3rd party components start stepping on other components in a flat system. And they can easily abuse the power of a more complex system. The file system is a great compromise, since components can retain their own model of how files should be laid out (in their own directory) without restricting (or being restricted by) the models of others.

It's still around because it works.

He can bash it all he wants. It's easy to attack. But it's extremely difficult to produce something better. What's worse is that if two new systems emerge, and they happen to be incompatible with each other (but compatible with current file systems), then we have a severe divergence. It doesn't matter if they're both far superior, since adoption of both new systems would make it difficult for people using them to work together. The common ground is now gone.

Inventor of failed technology... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828316)

...lambasts amazingly successful technology.

Bitter much?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>