Web predecessor Xanadu may one day replace the PDF

Chris Burns - Jun 6, 2014, 3:06pm CDT
Web predecessor Xanadu may one day replace the PDF

It would appear that one of the strangest predecessors to the World Wide Web has finally been revealed after 54 years of development. You read that right – this software’s development started in 1960, and its creator now has a working model for users to take a peek at and interact with. Ted Nelson’s creation is a computer interface project, one also known as a universal library.

As you’ll see in the hero image of this article and in the one demonstration link provided by Nelson, this system isn’t altogether unfamiliar. You’ll read text in the center and click on hypertext (a term that Nelson invented, also the first part of HTML). Each reference a piece of text makes is linked – visually – to the text it references.

For those wishing to visualize how a research paper is constructed, this form of language would be particularly useful. As Nelson describes it, Xanadu was (and is) aimed at being “an entire form of literature” where “there is a valid copyright system – a literary, legal, and business arrangement – for frictionless, non-negotiated quotation at any time and in any amount.”

Nelson also suggests the following is true of Xanadu:
• Links do not break as versions change
• Documents are able to be closely compared side-by-side and annotated
• Origins of every quotation are plainly visible

At Xanadu Deliverable you’ll find the Xanadu project in motion. This is the first “working deliverable” from the project after decades of development. There you’ll also find some political oddity from the creators of Project Xanadu, “The Original Hypertext Project,” also described as “Parallel Pages, Visibly Connected!”

VIA: Business Insider

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