(turned in on time but posted now due to technical issues)
by Qian Yin
Anna Fisher session
In Moulthrop's "You Say You Want a Revolution," he discusses Nelson’s Project Xanadu. “The system would provide a central repository and distribution network for all writing: it would be the publishing house, communications medium, and great hypertextual Library of Babel.” (6) Xanadu would “remove economic and social gatekeeping functions from the current owners of the means of text production.” (48) In short, “Nelson envisions ‘a new populitism that can make the deeper understandings of the few at last available to the many’.” (8) As I read through the text I kept asking what it is about this system that is so revolutionary that would potentially lead to a revolution. Is it the technological basis that enables the construction of such a body of texts participated by every user, the way it connects various texts and grants immediate access to its users? Is it the rules that structure and govern the system which seem to aim at optimizing free flow of information and minimizing hierarchy? But in a way Internet as a whole is doing this today – linking various texts and making them accessible to average users and in principle enabling anyone to create, store and share documents of any sorts. Is it an on-going revolution towards Nelson’s “new populitism” that we are looking at today? I want to know what other people think about this.