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Computer Lib - Dream Machines [1] [2]

By "hypertexte" I mean non-sequential writing. Ordinary writing is sequential for two reasons. First, it grew out of speech and speech-making, which have to be sequential; and second, because books are not convenient to read except in a sequence. But the structures of ideas are not sequential. They tie together every which-way. And when we write, we are always trying to tie things together in non-sequential ways [...]. The footnote is a break from sequence; but it cannot really be extended (though some, like Will Cuppy, have toyed with the technique). I have run into perhaps a dozen people who understood this instantly when I talked to them about it. Most people, however, act more bemused, thinking I'm trying to tell them something technical or pointlessly philosophical. It's not pointless at all: the point is, writers do better if they don't have to write in sequence (but may create multiple structures, branches and alternatives), and readers do better if they don't have to read in sequence, but may establish impressions, jump around, and try different pathways until they find the ones they want to study most closely. (The astute reader, and anybody who's gotten to this point must be, will have noticed that this book is in "magazine" layout, organized visually by ideas and meanings, for that precise reason. I will be interested to hear whether that has worked.) And the pity of it is that (like the man in the French play who was surprised to learn the he had been "speaking prose all his life and never known it"), we've been speaking hypertext all our lives and never known it.

NELSON, Ted Computer Lib - Dream Machines, 1974, 153 pages.

In recent years a very basic change has occurred in presentational systems of all kinds. We may summarize it under the name branching, although there are many variants. Essentially, to day's systems for presenting pictures, texts and whatnot can bring you different things automatically depending on what you do. Selection of this type is generally called branching. (I have suggested the generic term hypermedia for presentational media which perform in this (and other) multidimensional ways.) A number of branching media exist or are possible. Branching movies of hyperfilms [...]. Branching texts of hypertexts [...]. Branching audio, music, etc. [...]. Branching slide-shows [...].

NELSON, Ted Computer Lib - Dream Machines, 1974, 153 pages.

Hypermovies are suddenly upon us: branching and interactive films, or stuff very close to that idea (such as CDI) Up to now, however, it's been mostly technoids experimenting with the techniques. Things will change dramatically when real film-makers start doing it. (And when the film schools recognize their pivotal role.) The only system I know of that worked was at the 1967 Montreal World's Fair (Expo '67). At the Czech Pavilion you will recall that before the crackdown they had quite a yeasty culture going in Czechoslovakia there were some terrific fantic systems going. One was a wall of cubes with slide projectors inside (that rolled toward you and back as they changed their pictures). And then the Movie. The Czechoslovakian Branching Movie I forget its real name had the audience vote on what was to happen next at a number of different junctures. What should she do now, what will he do next, etc. And lo and behold! after they had voted, the lights went down, and that's what would happen next. People agreed that this gave the movie a special immediacy.

NELSON, Ted Computer Lib - Dream Machines, 1974, 153 pages.

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