Ted Nelson coined the term "hypertext" in 1963 and initiated Project Xanadu [Xanadu homepage], a hypertext system with version control and transpublishing that the www is nothing like. I can't believe I've not mentioned Xanadu on this homepage before, but now is not the time.

Ted Nelson came to hypertext through his own world view; Xanadu is a product of a certain way of seeing the universe rather than an application to fulfil a requirements document (although I won't deny that Tim Berners-Lee has vision, the World Wide Web is a solution to a problem which is iteratively solving the problem better with each revision). Nelson is an interesting character from this perspective, especially as my own world view resonates strongly with the network/interconnectedness metaphor.

  • Ted Nelson's homepage is a good hub of personal information and his current projects.
  • Nelson's Computing Paradigm expressed as one-liners come as close as anything else I've seen to explaining his world view. I won't quote from it, but if you read only one of these links, this is the one you should follow.
  • There exists online excerpts from Nelson's unfinished autobiography. The sentences are fragmentary; it reads like a linearised hypertext, like a card index of his life taken from its box and shuffled. From his early life you can see the stirrings of his connections-based metaphor set.
  • There are physical reasons for Nelson's views. Wired ran a long feature, The Curse of Xanadu, covering the person as well as the project. Nelson suffers badly from Attention Deficit Disorder. He has to record everything he says, and with this archive he's become extremely nonlinear. (Although I also read that Nelson himself is very unhappy with this article.)

dmoz has further Ted Nelson links.