::fibreculture:: New book - Memory Machines
bbarnet at swin.edu.au
Sat Jul 6 08:31:28 CEST 2013
My new book "Memory Machines: the Evolution of Hypertext" (Anthem Press UK) is available now for pre-order on Amazon. Anyone interested in a review copy please email me.
About the Book
‘Belinda Barnet has given the world a fine-grain, blow-by-blow report of how hypertext happened, how we blundered to the World Wide Web, and what other things electronic literature might still become.’ —Ted Nelson, hypertext pioneer
‘This is a fine and important book, the first to capture the rich history of ideas and people that led to the World Wide Web. “Memory Machines” carefully examines what the key figures were trying to do and judiciously explores what they accomplished and how the systems we now use daily sometimes exceed their dreams and sometimes fall embarrassingly short of their early achievements.’ —Mark Bernstein, Chief Scientist, Eastgate Systems
‘Walter Benjamin wrote that “It is not that what is past casts its light on what is present, or what is present its light on what is past; rather...what has been comes together in a flash with the now to form a constellation. “Memory Machines” is, even for one among its participants, such a constellation of the now.’ —Michael Joyce, Professor of English at Vassar College, New York
This book explores the history of hypertext, an influential concept that forms the underlying structure of the World Wide Web and innumerable software applications. Barnet combines an analysis of contemporary literature with her exclusive interviews with those at the forefront of the hypertext innovation. She tells both the human and the technological story, tracing its path back to an analogue device imagined by Vannevar Bush in 1945, before modern computing had happened.
‘Memory Machines’ offers an expansive record of hypertext over the last 60 years, pinpointing the major breakthroughs and fundamental flaws in its evolution. Barnet argues that some of the earliest hypertext systems were more richly connected and in some respects more flexible than the Web; this is also a fascinating account of the paths not taken.
Barnet ends the journey through computing history at the birth of mass domesticated hypertext, at the point that it grew out of the university labs and into the Web. And yet she suggests that hypertext may not have completed its evolutionary story, and may still have the capacity to become something different, something much better than it is today.
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