© 2013 ellathompson


Yes, when I first began the Literary Machines reading I was confused.

When I was at the halfway point I was even more confused.

Indeed, three-quarters through I was still confused.

BUT the final bit seemed to straighten it all out.



  • Hypertext is largely non-sequential/non-linear text. Many people contribute to body of text. Sections connected by links, offering reader different pathways.
  • Hypermedia is interactive. Interactive movies, graphics, sound/music etc.
  • World of information technology is unnecessarily complicated.
  • Nelson seeks way to unify/organise it all
  • Enormous database. Cumulative. Interactive. Permanent. Ever-expanding.
  • Public utility for storage of personal and company information.
  • Hypertext network will make on-demand access of stored knowledge/things an elemental commodity.
  • Paperless offices
  • Education will promote initiative and understanding, rather than rigidly sequenced curriculum structures.
  • Nelson expresses two hopes – (1) make life simple/flexible using computer as personal info tool, (2) instant access to vast libraries on computer (choose to read from interconnected web of writings and ideas, read from screen).
  • Rebirth of literacy
  • Enhancement of “working imagination”
  • Change the handling of the written word, change civilisation.


I find it incredible that the writer forecast the information-technological world of today. Well, he may have dramatised the situation a li’l bit by doubting humanity’s capacity to survive to see the year 2020 (and “if the human species [does] survive”, it will be in a slum-filled world) – “save mankind from an almost certain and immediately approaching doom…”. I did admire his curious ability to mix pessimism and optimism so successfully. Doomsday vs. the Golden Age. We are all gonna die… Don’t worry! Hypertext will save us! Ah gosh. Everything’s fine and dandy. Calm down, sir.

I found it fascinating to read about the past’s vision of the present world. And amazed at how accurate this person forecast the current situation. The detailed level at which he did this.

We now live in this world of hypertext. And it has simplified our lives. It has provided pretty much universal access to an enormous archive of interrelated materials. Simultaneous users. Links among documents. Interactive resources. It is really incredible when you look at it from the point of view of the creators. The design fictioneers (good word, Ella. Thanks, Ella.).


It was crazy to read this all from an electronic document, on which I was also typing notes. I wonder if he ever thought about this particular document of his being read from the electronic world he discusses in the document – downloaded from the Internet, from a link within a huge interactive database, read on an interactive text file. Cray.


Perhaps my favourite part – when he likened a computer to a “trained squirrel”. A computer is a trained squirrel. I applaud you, Nelson. Just magnificent.

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