Lecture 9 March 8, 2011
“MIT 1700” Week 9: The New Digital Order Search Engines to Wikipedia
- Ted Nelson and Hypertext
- knowledge = wealth
- computers = democracy
- computers could make our lives easier
- Most families today need to work longer and have two incomes to have the same
stability that their parents had in the 1950’s
- We are working more than ever; our technology can do so much more now.
-When we are on Facebook, we are working for the economy.
- Facebook sells the information that you post to companies so that they can
advertise to you better.
- They target demographic segments
- The economy is a big capitalistic system. Autonomous system because it no
longer needs people to help it along, it functions on its’ own. Our social relations
on Facebook and Twitter are basically advertising for free (talking about movies
we saw, last product we bought)
- Our social lives are dictated by commodification. Talking on Facebook is all
about indexing commodities; therefore you are still working for the economic
system even in your leisure time.
- More and more workers find that they take their work home with them, or on vacation.
They carry Blackberrys so that they can be on call at all times, and answer work emails
- Seems to be no option to ‘unplug’ everything is pressing and immediate
- The idea of a pristine vacation for many that is uncluttered by some arising matter at
work is simply vanishing. It is expected that workers be accessible and connected at all
times without pay
- We are just convenience ATMs for the corporations we work for
- A lot of the time we treat other people as ATM’s; they should be accessible to us
all the time.
- We are “obliged” to reply to emails, post a status update, etc. Leisure is
- This is not what Nelson envisioned for the personal computer.
- “knowledge is wealth” what you do with the information is important.
- Social media is for entertainment here. Not used for collectivization, social
organization, causes of social justice, etc.
- Coined the word “hypertext” = non hierarchical, non linear text. There’s no structural
order, has no hegemony or boss. Everything is equal.
- Hypertext is built on powerful, associative links. We don’t really think about
- Nelson argued that computers are no more dehumanizing than any other
technological tools like cars. Computers will simplify our lives and make us
capable of anything. Positive Outlook.
- To be fair, he’s not wrong. The tool itself isn’t good or evil, it just hasn’t
been used to its’ best capacity. Lecture 9 March 8, 2011
- MEMEX machine. Nelson reasserted that we don’t think sequentially, but criss cross
what we read with what we know. We compare information to the big picture we have.
Our brains are hardwired with links that might be associated to what it is seeing.
- Computer Lib and Xanadu
- Nelson’s utopian vision for this forerunner to the Internet has innovative features that
we use today:
- Use of links; essential. Any user would be able to tag text in a document.
- Transclusion; any link could call up a window that would present the original
doc. onscreen beside what linked to it.
- This has its’ origin in the MEMEX, but Nelson coined transclusion
- Alternate revisions; any user can produce an alternate version of a document,
you don’t have to shred the original.
- Reader Autonomy; users can access info any way they choose and can tag it in
any way they like by adding notes or organizing their own info on the document
on their own computers.
- Meeting Rooms; connected online community that acts as a forum for info and
doc. exchange. Early idea for the chatrooms of the following decade which
introduced a social component.
- Inclusion of Different Print Media; functions as a digital resource for accessing
knowledge, but will be enhanced by users who tag them and produce their own
- Nelson forcasted exactly how we use the Internet today.
- Xanadu failed due to funding.
Tim Berners-Lee and WWW
- Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
- Universal Resource Location (URL)
- Benefit: Standardized web makes information sharing easier/faster/more efficient.
- Information can be transferred from user to user without having to standardize the format
- Berners-Lee envisioned the Web for professional, serious purposes.
Marc Andreesen - Mosaic
- Moved web development more into the public domain
- In 1991 the web was just text. Not much use or interest to the genera