Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ted Nelson and Cyberwars

I've been reading around on the internet about Ted Nelson and his attempts at revolutionizing the way we use computers and internet. Aparrently people thought he was crazy and after reading his biography he might seem like a shrewd crazy guy who was ignored by his parents and the world but I think he is a genius. Mainly I was interested in his Xanadu project. Basically it is like a new way to view things in 3D on you computer screen. This really interested me because it seems like a cool idea and if you think about it, Hollywood has adopted his idea when in the 90's, Computer hacker movies were all the rage and moving through a 3D space in a cyber world was like the most awesome thing. If anyone reading this remembers Jurassic Park, there is a scene where to find the files for the auto door locks, to find the file they had to actually navigate a 3d world to find it. I thought that was kinda what Ted Nelson is getting at with his idea and personally I think its a cool idea. Why bother looking through files, pages and links with addresses so long and complicated that you can't remember where your stuff is unless you run a search. People navigate their neighborhoods, cities and country based on physical land marks that they can remember. We can find our friends house because addresses are easy to understand. If we want to meet our friends at "the bar", we can all find it no matter how piss drunk we already are because we can remember locations associated with a physical land mark. Well this is all a little past Ted Nelsons idea but MMORPG's like World of Warcraft or any other online game is like a 3D space the Ted Nelson wanted to create. However in WoW you can't really share word documents or Photos, they are kinda on the right path. Last year an anime movie called Summer Wars came out. The main setting of this movie was in a cyber world in which through a 3d virtual space you could do anything from playing games, run governments and communicate with people. Of course we have that now, but its all 2D and as boring as this flat web page you are looking at. Something 3D that we can travel through is, in my opinion, how we should evolve the use of computers. Ted Nelson, just a little bit ahead of his time, got it right.


  1. The opening line about people thinking the guy was crazy got me well...thinking. About how these Internet pioneers were seen in their own time as opposed to how they are seen by us now (as great people). It's interesting to contrast these two, or even to just remember that great people might not have been known as such when they were doing their revolutionary work.

  2. Many people claim to believe that creativity is important. But there also seems to be a resistance to truly innovative creative ideas. We seem to be comforted by the status quo. Nelson seemed to echo this idea when he spoke about the first automobiles having a whip holder installed near the driver's seat. So to does this apply to his discussion of how early computers made use of the paper document metaphor.

    As for the Summer Wars trailer - that movie looks amazing. I'd not heard of it before. I want to see more of it.

  3. Prof. Lockman, you're totally right, I know I'm late on Erik's blog, but come to think of it, I hadn't vent my heated opinion on all the great inventions lost to political crap (such as the EV1:

    And Screw GM for that loss. But there's plenty other innovative ideas just being laid to waste, or worse, ridicule because of some bureaucratic hierarchy or "status quo." This is why people like Nelson are only appreciated posthumously :'(

    Thanks for introducing me to Summer Wars! I'm totally downloading it as I type this :D and here's a movie I also recently came across, "Vexille"
    Haven't watched it yet, but I'm downloading it! It looks awesome!