[iDC] introduction

Dan Visel dbvisel at gmail.com
Thu Jun 30 16:16:20 UTC 2011

Hi everyone,

My name is Dan Visel, and I'm happy to be joining you all in October. From 2004 to 2010, I worked with Bob Stein at the Institute for the Future of the Book, thinking about how reading and writing are changing as they move from the printed page to the network screen; I also worked on the Institute's software development projects, including Sophie, a tool for making complex electronic books, and CommentPress, a WordPress plugin that facilitated side-by-side comments. Currently, I'm working at Unfold, a startup that's mapping political discourse; we're planning on launching this fall.

I'm going to be talking about the writing of Ted Nelson. Everyone knows Ted Nelson as the inventor of hypertext; maybe they know of his Project Xanadu, an attempt to make an alternative Internet from the ground up. Since his theoretical work in the 1970s, he's gained a reputation as something of a crank; his work since then hasn't been taken seriously, or, more frequently, ignored. I'm interested in looking at his writings - from his seminal Computer Lib/Dream Machines (1974) to his more recent self-published Geeks Bearing Gifts (2008) and Possiplex, his garrulous autobiography from last year. In his recent books, Nelson levies serious charges at the technological world of today: in his view of technological history, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. It's a view that's decidedly idiosyncratic, but maybe one that can be fruitfully thought about; I think this could be an appropriate setting for this discussion, as Nelson defines himself as a humanist trying to work with technologists rather than as a computer scientist, as it's commonly assumed that he is.

Looking forward to October--

Dan Visel

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