of Hypertext and Graphical User Interfaces

Dream Machines [Nelson 74]

Computer Lib/Dream Machines Retrospective on DigiBarn Computer Museum

nmr-21-nelson4.2MB – This sample chapter by Noah Wardrip-Fruin contains a transcripted (and highly abridged) version of Computer Lib/Dream Machines.


some excerpts

Preface (page X)


The office of the future, in the opinion of the author, will have nothing to do with the silly complexities of automatic typing. It will have screens, and keyboards, and possibly a printer for outgoing letters, but possibly not. All your business information will be callable to the screen instantly. An all-embracing data structure will hold every form of information -- numerical and textual -- in a cats’-cradle of linkages; and you, the user, whatever your job title, may quickly rove your screen through the entire information-space you are entitled to see. You will have to do no programming, an indeed "programs" will never be explicitly invoked at all, they will simply take effect as you get near, in the display space, something which needs update. A display-driven information complex.


How to learn anything (DM 42)

»As far as I can tell, these are the techniques used by bright people who want to learn something other than by taking courses in it. . . . «

Hypertext (DM 44)

Everything is Deeply Intertwingled (DM 45)

The Parallel Textface (DM 53)

Xanadu (DM 56)

Minifesto (DM 58)

»My work is concerned principally with the theory and execution of systems useful to the mind and the creative imagination...«

Nelson’s Canons (DM 58)

A Bill of Information Rights

Flip Out (DM 59)


As far as I know, there is still not a Decent Writing System anywhere in the world, although several things now come close. It seems a shame that grown men and women have to rustle around in piles of paper, like squirrels looking for acorns, in search of the phrases and ideas they themselves have generated. The decent writing system, as I see it, will actually be much more: it will help us to create better things in a fraction of a time, but also keep track of everything in better and more subtle ways than we ever could before. […]

Update: Computer Lib Dream Machines is being republished (2014).