Why look at the past?
The origins of the origins of the web
Laid out in his 1945 article "As We May Think"
Almost any paragraph can be directly tied one-to-one to the modern internet and computing
Professionally our methods of transmitting and reviewing the results of research are generations old and by now are totally inadequate for their purpose.
If the aggregate time spent in writing scholarly works and in reading them could be evaluated, the ratio between these amounts of time might well be startling.
Those who conscientiously attempt to keep abreast of current thought, even in restricted fields, by close and continuous reading might well shy away from an examination calculated to show how much of the previous month's efforts could be produced on call.
Mendel's concept of the laws of genetics was lost to the world for a generation because his publication did not reach the few who were capable of grasping and extending it; and this sort of catastrophe is undoubtedly being repeated all about us, as truly significant attainments become lost in the mass of the inconsequential.
The core issue that Bush identifies with current information retrieval methods
Simple selection: "I need a document with the title 'As We May Think'"
Imagine a retail purchase, and what would be needed to track that
What are the functions you could run over that data?
Indexes work well with structured data
What happens with unstructured documents, which have so many possible ways to categorize?
What are some other ways to organize?
The owner of the memex, let us say, is interested in the origin and properties of the bow and arrow.… He has dozens of possibly pertinent books and articles in his memex.
First he runs through an encyclopedia, finds an interesting but sketchy article, leaves it projected. Next, in a history, he finds another pertinent item, and ties the two together.
Thus he goes, building a trail of many items. Occasionally he inserts a comment of his own, either linking it into the main trail or joining it by a side trail to a particular item.
[Then], he branches off on a side trail which takes him through textbooks on elasticity and tables of physical constants.
He inserts a page of longhand analysis of his own. Thus he builds a trail of his interest through the maze of materials available to him.
Conceptually historic, but called "the longest-running vaporware project" in 1995 in a kind of mean, but honest feature
Started in late 60's, a version was released in 2014
What's important about Xanadu is that it reflects Ted Nelson's obsession with organizing data in a way that reflects the way he processes information.
Memex concept relied, even after talking about limitations of indices, relied on index point
Trying to answer that question: what are some other ways to organize
Proposed a new filesystem at the Association for Computing Machinery, available online
More importantly, put the word "hypertext" into consciousness
The file system should be attractive to non-programmers
When something "should" link, it just does
Suggests but side-tables one-to-many lists
As "philosophy" I want to speak of two major things. First, complex file structures (like the ELF) make possible the creation of complex and significant new media, the hypertext and hyperfilm.
Let me introduce the word "hypertext"***** to mean a body of written or pictorial material interconnected in such a complex way that it could not conveniently be presented or represented on paper.
It may contain summaries, or maps of its contents and their interrelations; it may contain annotations, additions and footnotes from scholars who have examined it.
Let me suggest that such an object and system, properly designed and administered, could have great potential for education, increasing the student’s range of choices, his sense of freedom, his motivation, and his intellectual grasp.******
Such a system could grow indefinitely, gradually including more and more of the world’s written knowledge.
Brings the concept and practice of hypertext to the (sort of) average person
Mac-only, which the base model started at $2,500 in 1987 dollars, so over $6000 today
Roughly in line with PC costs at the time - IBM PS/2 launched at $2250 the same year
HyperCard is difficult to explain; it is not a paint program, but you can paint with it; it is not a draw program but you can draw in it; it is not a word processor but you can type in it; it is not an animation program but you can construct animations with it; it is not a database, but you can use it to construct a database; it is not a presentation program, but you can develop a presentation with it; it is not a calculator but you can get it to make calculations and be a calculator; it is not a simulator, but you can simulate physical entities such as electronic circuits!
From the Museums Victoria article on Hypercard
Overall concept was a set of digital "cards" that would link to each other by clicks
Language and current trends led to a distinctive look
Also had a relatively human-readable coding language in Hypertalk
As late as August 2002, there were probably 10,000 HyperCard developers.
Three years after its initial episode on the software, the Computer Chronicles TV show did a followup show on HyperCard's development.
They found HyperCard software designed to run a television studio. MIT had produced an interactive video magazine via the program. A seventh grader was writing a timeline of Russian history on HyperCard, and children as young as kindergarten played with the application.
From an Ars Technica retrospective on Hypercard
I have realized over time that I missed the mark with HyperCard.
I grew up in a box-centric culture at Apple. If I'd grown up in a network-centric culture, like Sun, HyperCard might have been the first Web browser.
Quote from Bill Atkinson in a 2002 Wired article
Trying to organize documentation at CERN and the Large Hadron Collider stable across shifting personnel
Same issues & conclusions as Ted Nelson — the information was constantly changing, so the system had to be non-hierarchical and without restraints on types of information.
Notes and links, not indexed lists, as opposed to BBS or email chains.
Compare this to the complex version of Nelson's zippered lists
Imagine, then, the references in this document, all being associated with the network address of the thing to which they referred, so that while reading this document you could skip to them with a click of the mouse.