Tripping Up Memory Lane

July 16, 2015 · · Posted by Christopher Nuzum

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Last week I gave a talk at the Hyperkult 2015 conference. It was an honor to present there, especially since it was the 25th and final time the conference was held. This was my proposal for the talk:

Sometimes it seems like collaborative software projects are designed in an ahistorical vacuum. Like all our ideas are new. Maybe that’s because so much software is designed by young people fresh out of computer science programs heavy in programming and data structures, but often paying little more obeisance to the history of software than to acknowledge that once people programmed on punch cards, however that worked.

In 1996, after celebrating the 50th Anniversary of As We May Think at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and inspired by a long, encouraging talk with Doug Engelbart, I co-founded Traction Software (originally Twisted Systems, Inc.) and set out to design a memex-inspired literary machine for the augmentation of collective intelligence. In this talk, I’d like to demonstrate how the Traction Hypertext Journaling Engine underlying Traction Software’s TeamPage product borrows from and builds on insights and ideas from Vannevar Bush, Doug Engelbart, and Ted Nelson. I’ll also talk a bit about what ideas we’ve abandoned and why, and end with some thoughts on ideas that I think haven’t yet had their day.

I'd never given a talk in Germany before, but since the German word Vorlesung means "reading", I thought I had better be prepared with something I could read, even though that's not how I'm used to presenting.

For anyone interested, I've posted the script I prepared for the talk: Tripping Up Memory Lane Script.pdf (14.2MB). The PDF also includes high-resolution versions of the images I used in my slides.

I hope you'll enjoy.

Update: See the University of Lüneburg's video of this talk. Adobe Flash required for Chrome and Internet Explorer 10 and older.

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