Tofts Interviews Ted Nelson

Darren Tofts reports back from an interesting interview with Ted Nelson. Though the interview does focus on some of Nelson’s work, Tofts focuses more on Nelson as a thinker. He suggests that understanding Nelson’s thought patterns might provide us with a better understanding of the hypertext systems he imagines.

I’m not actually that fussed as to whether or not Xanadu ever gets off the ground. In fact I really don’t care. The world is better off for having a character like Nelson who dreamed of something like Xanadu than its technical realization. And in this I’m not being flippant, since the guy has devoted his entire thinking life to it. But for me the idea is far more compelling than the reality. Nelson himself is a larger than life character, so much so that he blurs into metaphysics and brings to mind a host of astonishing historical and fictional entities who have been equally obsessed with, as well as reliant upon, technologies of memory.