Hypertext in the ’70s

Zach Whalen tweeted some quotes from an ancient documentary on hypertext:

Hypertext: an Educational Experiment in English and Computer Science at Brown University is one of the many fascinating blasts from the past available through The Internet Archive. I am continually brought back to The Internet Course I taught with Jim Groom, where we looked at, among other things, how the Internet developed into what it is, and the visions that brought it about. In hindsight, this experiment looks significant and visionary, a proof of what the web could do. It also looks like something that would be dismissed, or even ridiculed as wasteful for investing time and resources in something like poetry. It also offers an early glimpse of tracking, analytics and surveillance:

One thing that caught my attention was the scene of physical cutting and pasting as the group was collaborating on course development. I remember all this from my graphic arts days, except we used X-Acto knives and straight edges rather than scissors because we were professionals.

hypertext in the 70s

So I made this little collage – physical manifestations of the virtual and digital – out of screenshots from the video and a typeface from Da Font. I liked the idea of hypertext living in a folder in a file cabinet. There’s something Pandora-esque about it to me.

I’ve been wondering about doing an internet-themed ds106, where we could use the web to tell stories of the web and about the web, and at the same time see something more about how the web works. It would be a bit of a departure from the past few semesters, but I think the students could still have fun with it. I’m still wondering about how to frame it out though.

 

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