The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hyperland

Tom Baker. My first exposure to Dr. Who was via PBS in the early 80s and at the time, the Doctor was all curly hair, teeth, jelly babies and a very long scarf. And that voice. It's hard to forget that voice. Kind of an English James Earl Jones type voice. Very distinctive. And because he was my first Doctor, he's still my favorite Doctor. It also didn't hurt things that several of his best shows where written by a fellow named Douglas Adams.

Douglas Adams. His most famous work was The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a unique story that has the virtue of being a radio play, a series of books, a television series, a stage play, two musicals, a computer game and a movie, all of them very different but at the same time, the same thing. Remarkable really. By the late 80s/early 90s, he had an interest in some of the odder aspects of computer science—basically fractals (there's a whole subplot in his book Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency about fractal patterns) and interactive fiction (he wrote a few text-based adventure games). So it was natural that he heard of Ted Nelson.

Ted Nelson. Creator of the oldest vaporware product in history—fourty-seven years and still just “six months away.” I am, of course, talking about his hypertext system called Xanadu, which the World Wide Web is just a mere pale shadow of Xanadu's capabilities, which is he quick to point out.

But there was a time, in the early 90s, when all three appeared in Hyperland (link via Jason Scott), a documentary about the capabilities of hypertext. Well worth viewing if you are a fan of Douglas Adams, Tom Baker or Ted Nelson (or all three, like I am).

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