Douglas Adams’s 1990 BBC documentary on hypertext

I haven’t had a chance to watch the full movie version of Hyperland closely yet (available as of today on Google Video), but what I’ve seen convinces me that this will be a nice complement to our study of hypertext later on in the semester for ETEC540. It covers much of the same history we will be reading — Vannevar Bush, Ted Nelson, Xanadu, the Media Lab… And based on previous iterations of the course, I’m willing to wager we have at least a couple of rabid Douglas Adams fans in our cohort.

Gestating off-screen, adding an ironic sheen to the proceedings, is the yet-to-be-realized World Wide Web, which would both embody and explode the vision of hypertext under consideration.

Update: Oook rightfully points to Hyperland’s Wikipedia entry for useful context.

(Via Boing Boing. Cross-posted to Textologies.)

3 thoughts on “Douglas Adams’s 1990 BBC documentary on hypertext

  1. Ahaa, worlds collide. Hi Brian!

    One of my English classes this term involves hypertext (sort of)… ENGL 409K (a lit crit class).

    We read an essay by Stuart Moulthrop that your class might find useful/funny. He wrote it in 1993, talking about the impact of hypertext in the future (i.e. what this might mean for copyright and authorship – one of the things my class is discussing heavily) and speculated on what would happen if we all had access to some sort of globally accessible, easily-editable, multi-authored resource. As I read it, I found myself thinking, “We sort of have this now… it’s called the Internet!” ():} (I suppose this isn’t really fair of me though, since the web could be seen as a really oversimplified version of Nelson’s Xanadu.)

    Anyway, the essay is on p. 2504 of this text:

    Vincent B. Leitch, ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. (Norton, 2001)

    The essay title currently escapes me and I don’t have the book handy, but if you’d like to see it I can come visit you sometime if you’d rather not hunt through the library (as this Norton Anthology costs a MILLION. DOLLARS.).

    Talk to you soon!

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