writing

hypertext city

hypertext city

As a conceptual framework, Hypertext provides a specific means of configuring issues sourrounding the confrontation of cyberspace and the city. It does so by embracing the advent of the electronic realm and the proliferation of networked links while at the same time interpreting these technological transformations as part of the project of writing. More specifically, studies of hypertext have focussed on the history of writing as technology, on the potential for hypertext to change the relationships between reading and writing, to alter the demarcations between the inside and outside of the text, and to change the nature and role of narrative. For its proponents, hypertext is the mode of writing that articulates the sociality of the network, that promises democratization and the empowerment of the individual, and that rearticulates themes that writing and the city have been seen to share: in the construction of memory, in the relation between movement and the subject, and in the production of space through abstraction and narrative. 

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hypertext

hypertext

In the July, 1945 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, Vannevar Bush, who had served as the first director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, the agency established by Roosevelt to coordinate federally funded defense research, published an article entitled "As We May Think." In it, he pointed out the increasing gap between the growing mountain of research and the inadequacies of methods for transmitting and reviewing its results, which he blamed in part on the artificiality of systems of indexing. He suggested that the human mind operates by association. "With one item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the association of thoughts, in accordance with some intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain." He proposed "a mechanized, enlarged, and intimate supplement to an individual's memory, a future device" which he called a "memex" using electro-mechanical technology as a device for associative indexing, a reading and writing machine that would allow "wholly new forms of encyclopedias to appear, with a mesh of mesh of associative trails running through them." Users would create "endless trails" of links...exactly as if the physical items had been gathered together from widely separated sources and bound together to form a new book."

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transclusion

The idea of quoting without copying was called transclusion by the designers of Ted Nelson's Xanadu operating system. The most innovative commercial feature of the hypertext system was a royalty and copyright scheme for use without copying. Whenever an author wished to quote, he or she would use transclusion to " virtually include" a passage by pointing to the original. (This function operates like the "make alias" command on the macintosh. It is a pointer rather than a copy.) Literal copying would be forbidden in the Xanadu system. A fee could be charged for transclusion, every time an individual work was being read or quoted. 

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