sourcedoc: DiftCompWorld-D2

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=== 11.02.09


                        Theodor Holm Nelson

                        Founding Designer, Project Xanadu

Fish, they say, aren't aware of water. Most people, including

computer scientists, don't notice the hidden assumptions and

traditions that have structured today's computer world and digital

documents. These assumptions push the real problems into the laps of

users and programmers. (Note that at this level, Windows, Mac and

Linux, Iphone and Android are all the same.)

Almost nobody notices the consequences of this locked cosmology--

 - FILES-- lumps of data payload with short names. What is

"metadata"? Data which is not in the payload-- a silly distinction.

 - HIERARCHICAL DIRECTORIES-- don't allow a file to be in more than

one place, annotated or checked off, and don't notice when a file is


 - LUMPDOCS-- it is assumed that one document = one file; this forces

a crude model of publication and pushes the problem of change

management to the user.

 - THE PUI (PARC User Interface, often called "The Modern GUI") turns

the computer into a paper simulator, throwing away document structure

(the original overlay links of Engelbart and others) in favor of

cosmetics (fonts). Designed for secretaries and now imposed on the

whole world, the PUI traps the user-- proletarianized, no longer

allowed to program-- in a world of application prisons.

 - WALLED DATABASES. There is no available way to represent, and keep

records about, the complex interwoven tangles of real life.

Everything has to be simplified and connections have to be cut in all

directions. Why?

 - ONE-WAY HYPERTEXT-- the ayatollahs of the World Wide Web say that

two-way links are too difficult. Translation: they don't know how to

do it.

People are satisfied, or intimidated, because they don't know anything

else is possible.

There is no right or wrong computer world; what is wrong is that there

is only one computer world, with no other choices.

We will consider some alternatives.





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