This is an except from an interview with Ted Nelson the guy who invented hypertext.
Cyberspace Report: What inspiration led you to develop hypertext?
Ted Nelson: Well I was always, as a kid, into writing and reading and literature and movies basically, like a lot of people, and I had done a great deal of writing as a youth, and re-writing, and the intricacy of taking ideas and sentences and trying to arrange them into coherent, sensible, structures of thought struck me as a particularly intricate and complex task, and I particularly minded having to take thoughts which were not intrinsically sequential and somehow put them in a row because print as it appears on the paper, or in handwriting, is sequential. There was always something wrong with that because you were trying to take these thoughts which had a structure, shall we say, a spatial structure all their own, and put them into linear form. Then the reader had to take this linear structure and recompose his or her picture of the overall content, once again placed in this nonsequential structure. You had two it seemed -- and now I'm reconstructing because I don't know how explicitly I thought this out as a youth -- you had to take these two additional steps of deconstructing some thoughts into linear sequence, and then reconstructing them. Why couldn't that all be bypassed by having a nonsequential structure of thought which you presented directly? That was the hypothesis -- well the hyperthesis really -- of hypertext, that you could save both the writer's time and the reader's time and effort in putting together and understanding what was being presented.
I never really thought of hypertext in this sense. I am dyslexic and in my writing and conversation I go through a very similar process to the one described by Nelson. I struggle to express myself in a way that others can fully comprehend. I jump around from idea to idea and end an idea abruptly. In this interview Nelson speaks to the politics of writing and expression and how anything nonlinear is discounted. I have personally adapted traditional punctuation to function in a nontraditional manner that helps me communicate my ideas. I love parenthesis, dashes and slashes but, realize the rest of the writing world is not so fond of the frequency of which I use them or the instances in which I use them. It is interesting to find that something so linear (hypertexts) came out of his nonlinear and nontraditional thoughts.Posted by vglaze at September 26, 2003 05:21 AM