Re: [-empyre-] Post from forward

At 11:09 PM +1000 13/1/04, Ashley Holmes wrote:
Certainly, "hypermedia" is a term that I prefer to "New Media".

That's interesting. "Hypermedia" is a specific term coined by Ted Nelson, and more narrow than "new media." Hypermedia was first used by Ted Nelson in 1965, in the same article in which he coined the term "hypertext."

These initial coinages were offered in passing, almost, toward the end of an article. Then, in 1970, Nelson published another article in which both were described in more detail. You can download the 1970 article, as reprinted in Nelson's 1974 _Computer Lib / Dream Machines_, from the NMR excerpts page ( but I'll paste in a few excerpts from both articles here as well.

The 1965 definition of hypertext:
Let me introduce a word "hypertext"* to mean a body of written or pictorial material interconnected in such a complex way that it could not conveniently be presented or represented on paper. (NMR p.144)

The asterisk note after "hypertext" reads:
* The sense of "hyper-" used here connotes extension and generality; cf. "hyperspace." The criterion for this prefix is the inability of these objects to be comprised sensibly into linear media? (ibid)

Then hypermedia is coined:
The hyperfilm - a browsable or vari-sequenced movie - is only one of the possible hypermedia that require our attention. (ibid)

In 1970 we get a lot more detail. In this article, as the title ("No More Teachers' Dirty Looks") indicates, Nelson is writing about education, and particularly in opposition to AI-based "Computer-Aided Instruction." He writes of "hyper-media" (the term's concatenation varies):
Hyper-media are branching or performing presentations which respond to user actions, systems of prearranged words and pictures (for example) which may be explored freely or queried in stylized ways. They will not be "programmed," but rather designed, written, drawn and edited, by authors, artists, designers, and editors. (To call them "programmed" would suggest spurious technicality. Computer systems to present them will be "programmed.") Like ordinary prose and pictures, they will be media; and because they are in some sense "multi-dimensional," we may call them hyper-media, following mathematical use of the term "hyper-." (NMR p.313)

Nelson then goes on to give a number of examples, including two kinds of hypertext (one of which is the "chunk style" we have on the web) and several types of hypermedia. I won't cut and paste much more from this article right now, because I'd be tempted to reproduce the whole PDF.

I, too, like the term hypermedia, and Nelson's work in general, and would be happy to discuss them more here.


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