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The future of writing has always been written collaboratively, a linked document. In 1934, Paul Otlet envisioned a global network of ‘electric telescopes’ that would allow people to browse through, share and ‘write’ millions of interlinked documents, images, audio and video files. People would send each other messages and form social networks. In 1945, army scientist Vannevar Bush described a device called the Memex, a desk with translucent screens that would allow its users to browse books, periodicals and images, to create their own trail through a body of documentation and insert their own story. Samuel Taylor Coleridge contributed, writing his ode to Kubla Khan’s palace Xanadu in 1797. During the 1960s, Theodor Nelson developed his vision for the hypertext system Xanadu, a space of writing and reading where texts, images and sounds could be electronically interconnected in a non-linear environment that allowed readers and writers to choose their own paths….

In the 1980s, Jay David Bolter and Michael Joyce wrote Storyspace, a software programme for creating, editing and reading hypertext fiction. Joyce wrote Afternoon, a story (1987), the ‘granddaddy’ of all hyperfiction. The future of writing moved to the web and, as projected interactive installation, into the physical world. Online, Mark Amerika’s GRAMMATRON (1997) told the story of a digital creature encoded in a magic sorcerer-code called Nanoscript. I read GRAMMATRON and Afternoon, a story and will always remember them as more than technical novelties.

Frieze Magazine 159

the importance of scifi, don’t knock hypertext, & it’s cool to see Michael (a professor of mine) pop up

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  • #hypertext #scifi #writing #words
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