Computer Lib / Dream Machines

Nelson, Ted
ISBN 0914845497
Date finished: 2002-06-02

This 1986 revision of a classic book demonstrates that even classics sometimes aren't worth reading any more. Both halves of this volume, two separate books bound together, have become terribly dated. Computer Lib suffers worst from this, as it talks endlessly about long-obsolete computers and now-forgotten 1970s businessmen, developers, and software, and it contains absolutely nothing that that a modern reader will care about. I had higher hopes for Dream Machines, but that was also a disappointment. Squibs of text on now-dead systems or on the amazing graphic abilities that were just around the corner, crowd out the material that would still be relevant. The Xanadu system, my primary reason for reading this book in the first place, only gets 14 pages of space (obviously I should have read Nelson's Literary Machines instead, if I could find it), but there's enough detail to make it clear to me that if the Web fulfills some of Xanadu's design goals, it fails miserably at others. Xanadu is still vaporware, of course, and likely will always remain so, forming an eccentric footnote to the history of hypertext that finally reached the masses with the Web.

Tagged: computing

Permalink: http://books.amk.ca/2002/06/Computer_Lib_Dream_Machines.html

%T  Computer Lib / Dream Machines
%@  2002-06-02
%A  Nelson, Ted
%G  ISBN 0914845497
%K  computing

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