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New Press Release on Nelson, Xanadu, etc. (zzxprl .d4

-- for immediate release --

"What's Ted Doing Now?"

Ted Nelson foresaw a lot of things, but the one thing he foresaw long ago
that no one else could imagine was that millions of people would be
publishing hypertext, anarchically and without restriction, on a world-wide
network.  In the sixties, when he started talking about this, almost nobody
could understand the idea of hypertext, let alone why anyone would want it,
let alone why people would want to self-publish electronically.  But to Ted
Nelson all this was obvious.  

The main problem of creative work he saw as *version management*; the main
problem of publishing he saw as *rights management*.  This is as true now
as it was in 1960, when Nelson also propounded a solution: that both these
problems could be sweepingly solved on line by a unique approach, now
called *transclusion*-- the virtual inclusion of material by reference.  If
we edit by reference, versions can be easily compared side by side; if we
publish by reference out of a registered media pool, the origin and
different uses of everything may be seen.  This is the structure of the
system that came to be called Xanadu*.

What was also obvious to Nelson-- what nobody else saw then, and few see
now-- was that electronic documents need to be annotatable and re-usable.
The structures he and his group designed during the sixties, seventies and
eighties were to make this possible-- as well as create a new zone of
copyright.  This new copyright zone would be halfway between copyright
imprisonment and public domain-- in which everything could be quoted on
line without prearrangement and without restriction.  

The Xanadu Project has always been about these ideals: facilitating
re-usable hypermedia, *with* copyright but freely annotatable and quotable,
in a world-wide network open to all.  

Was Nelson trying to create the Web?  In scale, yes, but in character not
at all: something much better.  "Trying to fix HTML is like trying to graft
arms and legs onto hamburger," says Nelson.  "You can't retrofit it with
what has to be built in at the very center."  With its unreliable links,
the Web is "a foam of ever-popping bubbles.  They are forsaking deep
structure and stable publishing for a pie-in-the-face special effects race."  

The current trend toward unifying Web structure under XML Nelson considers
laughable.  "The Web, especially as boxed in by XML, is the minimal
concession to hypertext that a sequence-and-hierarchy chauvinist could
possibly make."

During the last four years in Japan, aided especially by colleagues Marlene
Mallicoat and Andrew Pam of Xanadu Australia, Nelson has been redefining a
component Xanadu for the new Internet environment, unpacking the one
unified idea of Xanadu into many separately achievable parts.

These are:
- transcopyright: the legal doctrine (approved and appreciated by lawyers)
which gives permission for virtual quotation and republication by
reference, on line 
- text transpublishing: the missing tags (whose need is not understood by
the W3 consortium or other players) for bringing in *part* of a textual
document under transcopyright 
- transpayment: minuscule payment systems that will allow a user to buy and
assemble electronic documents (and even Web pages) transpublished from
various sources-- with exact microscopic payment to each source for each
piece, pro rata by character.  Nelson's team is now demonstrating the
prototype, their HyperCoin(tm) system.
- stable and committed publishing: this is a promise, not a technical
issue; it requires a network of service providers able to make long-term
promises of continued availability, in much the way that insurance
companies and film completion bond companies make promises.
- a freely-available editing server and client demonstrating xanalogical
version management (OSMIC, Open Structure for Media InterConnection) 
- LUSTR, a specification system for high-power performing hypertext not
broken into pages (Level of Universal Structure) 

But perhaps most intriguingly, in a surprise departure, Nelson is at last
delivering software of his own design: a radical new system of
interconnective structure called ZigZag**, a multidimensional system of
unconstrained rows, columns and interactions.  Nelson foresees ZigZag as
the kernel of a new approach to computing-- "without 'metaphors,' without
icons, and without the great evil called 'applications'-- activity and data
traps that bind and limit the user, that have turned the computer world
into a new kind of distributed prison.  When I wrote *Computer Lib* in
1974, computers were big oppressive machines in airconditioned office
buildings.  Now you can be oppressed by a computer in *your own living room*!"

Ted Nelson has always lived in a different paradigm, a paradigm that some
people have found easy to dismiss.  But those who would listen have not.

- - - - -
*"Xanadu" is an internationally registered trademark of Project Xanadu,
Sausalito CA, for software and services embodying these ideas.  **Trademark

For information see:
(c) 1998 Project Xanadu.
Theodor Holm Nelson, Visiting Professor of Environmental Information
 Keio University, Shonan Fujisawa Campus, Fujisawa, Japan
http://www.sfc.keio.ac.jp/~ted/    PERMANENT E-MAIL: ted@xxxxxxxxxx
 Home Fax: 0466-46-7368  From USA: 011-81-466-46-7368
Project Xanadu (Permanent)
 3020 Bridgeway #295, Sausalito CA 94965
 Tel. 415/ 331-4422, fax 415/ 332-0136
Quotation of the day, 98.07.20:
"So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs." -- Ella Wheeler Wilcox