The best summary of my work (except for certain details) is by Tim Berners-Lee, below. While I greatly appreciate his intention, I have added corrective footnotes. Thanks, Tim, for a kind and gracious summary within your frame of reference, and I hope someday we can reach a deeper understanding and a shared vision.FOOTNOTES CORRECTING THE ABOVE:Ted Nelson, a professional visionary,1 wrote in 1965 of "Literary Machines,"2 computers that would enable people to write and publish in a new, nonlinear format, which he called hypertext.3 Hypertext was "nonsequential" text, in which a reader was not constrained to read in any particular order, but could follow links and delve into the original document from a short quotation.4 Ted described a futuristic5 project, Xanadu[®6], in which all the world's information7 could be published in hypertext. For example, if you were reading this book in hypertext, you would be able to follow a link from my reference to Xanadu to further details of that project. In Ted's vision, every quotation would have been a link8 back to its source, allowing original authors9 to be compensated by a very small amount each time the quotation was read10. He had the dream of a utopian11 society in which all information could be shared among people who communicated as equals.12 He struggled for years to find funding for his project, but success eluded him.-- Tim Berners-Lee with Mark Fischetti,
Weaving the Web.
Harper/San Francisco, 1999, p.5.1. No one has ever paid me to be a visionary.
2. I don't believe I used the term "literary machines" until 1981, when I made it the title of a book. However, 1965 is when I first used the word "hypertext" in print.
3. It is vital to point out that Tim's view of hypertext (only one-way links, invisible and not allowed to overlap) is entirely different from mine (visible, unbreaking n-way links by any parties, all content legally reweavable by anyone into new documents with paths back to the originals, and transclusions as well as links-- as in Vannevar Bush's original vision).
4. Going back to the original must not be done by links but must be done by deeper transclusive means. The link mechanism, particularly the embedded link of the Web, cannot do this correctly.
5. "Futuristic" is one of those words which implies that an idea is not a possibility-- just a crazy dream, and thus only an inspiration. I believe Tim thinks he made my ideas practical, whereas I think he oversimplified them-- with today's extreme complexity as the result.
6. "Xanadu" is a registered trademark which I maintain at considerable cost, and I ask all parties to respect this by using the "®" or "(R)" symbol for the first use of the trademark "Xanadu" in each document.
7. Not "all the world's information", but all the world's documents. The concept of "information" is arguable, documents much less so. I believe Tim is finding his concept of pure information, the "Semantic Web", much more difficult to achieve than hypertext documents.
8. No, not a link; a transclusive pathway. The two mechanisms are entirely different. A link connects two things which are different. A transclusion connects two things which are the same.
9. Not authors, rightsholders. Sometimes the author is a rightsholder, sometimes not. A rightsholder is generally someone who has bought or contracted the rights from the author. While we have sentimental concern for authors, in our system of law the rightsholder can be anyone, just as the owner of land is rarely the original settler any more. Besides fairness to authors and artists, a key objective is to bring in the commercial rightsholders-- big publishers, university presses, movie studios-- who will not otherwise publish their content digitally. Many people think I am against free content; nonsense. I want to create a shared world of mixable content both free and paid.
10. No, not every time it was read (pay per view) but the first time purchased, as with a paper document.
11. "Utopian" is another synonym for "impossible", like "futuristic" in footnote 5. This shows a problem of understanding.
12. "Communicated as equals" is a gracious but confusing phrase. The author and the reader are not exactly equal, they occupy different roles with frequent conflict. If he means that anyone can be an author and anyone can be a reader, that has always been true (since self-publishing has always been respectable). I would say "shared a level playing field". But I appreciate the spirit of this phrasing.