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July 2007

The certainty of chance

From the Economist's obituary of George Melly:

As a lifelong Surrealist, he was sure that the bizarre and marvellous lay in wait for him everywhere, and carried in his head a Surrealist motto, “the certainty of chance”.

'The 'certainty of chance' was', James Boyle says, 'the phrase André Breton used to describe both modernism and his own philosophy of life'.

Earlier this month, the TLS reprinted George Melly's 1991 review of A Book of Surrealist Games, in which he concluded:

It may puzzle the more pompous as to why this body of men and women, these ardent revolutionaries of the spirit, spent so much time engaged in occupations usually considered more suitable for bored children on wet afternoons. The answer is, to quote the preface, that “Surrealist play is more like a kind of provocative magic”, that it “breaks, the thread of discursive thought” and, above all, helps to confirm the primary Surrealist belief in what they called “objective chance” or “the certainty of hazard”. These games will prove to you that not only was Lautréamont justified as to poetry; one could add a rider: “Surrealism too can be made by all.” 

Surrealism 1

Of the cover, George Melly wrote:

… a bourgeois interior, painted with the minimal realism of early Magritte. Seated opposite each other in identical armchairs, a young father is engrossed in his newspaper while his wife is teaching their son to read. Something is mildly askew. Is it because, while it is dark outside, the curtains are undrawn, or that the room is lit by anachronistic Victorian oil lamps, or that the newspaper, despite the completely Western ambience of the decor, is printed in oriental typography?

The origin of this illustration is unrevealed. I suspect it may have been an advertisement for a pre-war European product aimed at the Japanese market, or vice versa, but it is a brilliant trailer for the displacement on offer within. In a balloon-shaped inset, replacing perhaps a commercial slogan, is a quotation from Lautréamont, the nineteenth-century writer so revered by the Surrealists: “Poetry should be made by all.”

Amazon carries an "editorial review" (cited as Amazon.com): 'Surrealism is far more than some dead art movement: it is also a collection of tools for perceiving and representing the world in ways that transcend normative perspectives. … If you have any spark of creativity, you are strongly encouraged to get this book to help loosen the holds of quotidian existence on your craft.'

I see Anne's been here before — and quotes more of the preface to A Book of Surrealist Games than George Melly did:

Surrealist games and procedures are intended to free words and images from the constraints of rational and discursive order, substituting chance and indeterminancy for premeditation and deliberation... In one particular and important respect Surrealist play is more like a kind of provocative magic. This is in its irrepressible propensity to the transformation of objects, behaviours and ideas. In this aspect of its proceedings Surrealism makes manifest its underlying political programme, its revolutionary intent.

Before going on to put some surrealist games online, Anne also quotes Philippe Audouin:

It is not to belittle Surrealist activity to consider it as a game, in fact as The Great Game, whose prizes in the eyes of those who played and lived it, can be calculated in promises of freedom, love, revolution, and in anything else that intransigent desire can aspire to.

Unsurprisingly, various things here made me think again about the aleatoric


Netiquette?

Having ventured this week into adding my cent's worth in an online discussion forum, the sole direct (off-list) response I got was a curtly worded email telling me that, if I was going to top-post, then at least delete the quoted gubbins underneath. It was then that I remembered why I don't usually bother contributing to discussion forums.

I know so few people who don't top-post in their emails that, after much racking of my brain, I am still counting them on the fingers of one hand. Popular new email tools such as GMail just go for the quoted text route.

If I were paranoid, I'd think John Gruber's post somehow connected other than by the subject matter: its timing was perfect.

The fundamental source of poor email style is the practice of quoting the entire message you’re replying to. If that’s what you do, then it doesn’t matter whether you put your response at the top or bottom. In fact, if you’re going to quote the entire message, top-posting probably is better. But both are poor form.

Writing an email is like writing an article. Only quote the relevant parts, interspersing your new remarks between the quoted passages. Don’t quote anything at all from the original message if you don’t have to.

I'll leave to one side the odd suggestion that writing an article is like quoting relevant parts and interspersing your new remarks (that's more like annotation — annotation-for-friends?), and merely note that this bothers John so much he's even written some script for Apple Mail:

For the email accounts that I want to read on my iPhone, I need IMAP, so I’m switching those accounts to Apple Mail. I’ve been dreading this for years. My first must-fix annoyance is that Mail’s Reply feature is hard-wired to encourage top-posting, an uncouth and illiterate practice.

Lucky he doesn't use GMail, then! Wikipedia: 'The default quote format and cursor placement of many popular e-mail applications, such as Microsoft Outlook and Gmail, encourages top-posting. Microsoft has had a significant influence on top-posting by the ubiquity of its software; its e-mail and newsreader software places the cursor at the top by default, and in several cases makes it difficult not to top-post'.

What strikes me as bizarre is the idea knocking around (in the email to me, in John Gruber's On Top post) that somehow the moral, literate and intelligent high-ground belongs to the anti-top-posting guys ('Does it take more time to edit the portions of quoted text included in your reply? Yes. So does spell-checking and proofreading. It also takes time to shower and brush your teeth each day'). It doesn't. I find annotated email much harder to read than top-posted email. I imagine this is because it's what I'm used to working with — and guess the same applies to those few people I know who like and use John Gruber's approach to email. (Hunting the annotations is, to me, a tedious and fragmentary experience. If it's supposed to create the illusion of conversation … well, it falls on my ears like snatched, broken remarks and nothing like a conversation.)

I have more sympathy with John's view when he says, 'the idea that each new reply in a thread ought to contain the entirety of each previous message in the thread is … unnecessary' (I've cut out 'silly, wasteful, distracting') — but, really, so what? Far and away most of the people I know who still use email ignore the quoted stuff (and, of course, GMail has the clickable '- Show quoted text -' line in incoming emails that are part of a thread, so by default quoted text is hidden), very occasionally stepping into it when they want to fish out some new part of the conversation.

All in all, I'd far rather spend my time thinking carefully what I want to say in reply to someone and then write that in as good English as I can. In any event, there are surely more important things to be fussing about — such as what you're actually contributing via email (be it top-posted, interlaced, whatever), not to mention how you make people feel welcome on forum discussion lists. Michael Sippey:

Jon Gruber on the reason 99% of email users will not live up to the Official Daring Fireball expectations for appropriate use of electronic mail:  "The fundamental source of poor email style is the practice of quoting the entire message you’re replying to."  I used to care about things like this.  Then I stopped caring...right around the time I stopped caring about whether people sent me email in plain text. Life's been a lot simpler ever since.

Oh, and Drew Thaler commented in his del.icio.us bookmark of John Gruber's On Top post item, 'Top-posting was bad form on Usenet in 1991, but it's standard practice in e-mail in 2007'.

Thinking about all this, I can see there are issues with top-posting and discussion mailing-lists. The Wikipedia article does a good job of outlining these:

Top-posting is viewed as seriously destructive to mailing-list digests, where multiple levels of top-posting are difficult to skip. The worst case would be top-posting while including an entire digest as the original message. Some believe that "top-posting" is appropriate for interpersonal e-mail, but inline posting should always be applied to threaded discussions such as newsgroups. Objections to top-posting on newsgroups, as a rule, seem to come from persons who first went online in the earlier days of Usenet, and in communities that date to Usenet's early days. … Newer online participants, especially those with limited experience of Usenet, tend to be less sensitive to arguments about posting style. … As news and mail readers have become more capable, and as propagation times have grown shorter, newer users may find top-posting more efficient.

Discussion groups might consider having a short summary of preferred usage to help educate their users. That might then help people feel welcomed, too.

There are a number of things here to build in to a good ICT course for students.


Never mind the 70s, watch out for the 90s

Read Momus yesterday on how the 70s might come back for a second time, but probably won't. Woke up this morning to hear IDS on 'the family' (BBC link here). Well, we've been there before!

So thinking about that made me dig out something Stephen Fry wrote for The Spectator (Diary), commenting on the rise and rise of 'family values' as a core part of the 'agenda' of Conservative politicians:

It has become impossible now to utter a sentence without the barons of the new trendiness insisting on the inclusion of the words 'standards', 'individual', 'values', 'responsibility' and 'family'. It doesn't matter in what order they occur or what meaningless nonsense they denote, the words must dominate what statesmen like to call our 'agenda'. Eight years ago I wrote an article in the Listener wondering at the half-cocked stupidity of politicians displaying such impertinence. The trendy belief in family values had already been going for a good seven years by then and there seems even now to be no end in sight. Nobody minds that the Conservative governments of the last 15 years have contained at least six adulterers and two homosexuals at cabinet level and dozens more on the back-benches. If these men want mistresses, love-children and boyfriends, then good luck to them. The British are a decent, tolerant and friendly people and like to see their fellow citizens enjoying themselves in a kindly, responsible and adult way. What really gets our goat is when these same men and their colleagues stand on podia in seaside towns at Party Conference time and tell us how to behave in private; what causes us pain and indignation is to hear them lecture the nation about the virtues of the family and deride those of us who prefer not to have our moral horizons dictated by the Daily Mail. The Family: that noble institution responsible for 70 per cent of all murders, over 80 per cent of incidents of child abuse and a full 100 per cent of all cases of incest.

Date? 13 November, 1993.

Into this stream of consciousness there came a discussion thread on ORG-discuss, focusing on this, 'Oral Answers to Questions: Home Department' (House of Commons, Monday, 9 July 2007) — on Internet Service Providers. Excerpt:

Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire, Conservative):

Although I welcome the Home Secretary's comments, does she agree that it is a tragedy that what used to be the place where childhood innocence was protected and preserved—the home—is now often the place where it is corrupted and destroyed?

In the ORG thread, Suw quotes the indispensable danah boyd (quoted in a piece dated from midway through last year):

Unfortunately, predators lurk wherever youth hang out. Since youth are on MySpace, there are bound to be predators on MySpace. Yet, predators do not use online information to abduct children; children face a much higher risk of abduction or molestation from people they already know – members of their own family or friends of the family. Statistically speaking, kids are more at risk at a church picnic or a boy scout outing than they are when they go on MySpace. Less than .01% of all youth abductions nationwide are stranger abductions and as far as we know, no stranger abduction has occurred because of social network services.

Romanticising the past, or an institution, and demonising technology won't help anyone.

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Narrating the work

E O Wilson in Consilience, quoted by Jon Udell:

The creative process is an opaque mix. Perhaps only openly confessional memoirs, still rare to nonexistent, might disclose how scientists actually find their way to a publishable conclusion. In one sense scientific articles are deliberately misleading. Just as a novel is better than the novelist, a scientific report is better than the scientist, having been stripped of all the confusions and ignoble thought that led to its composition. Yet such voluminous and incomprehensible chaff, soon to be forgotten, contains most of the secrets of scientific success.

As Jon put it elsewhere,

By narrating the work, as Dave Winer once put it, we clarify the work. There can be more than narrator, but it makes sense to have one team member own the primary role just as other members own other roles.

The first Jon Udell piece referred to above focuses on Timo Hannay:

As director of web publishing for Nature Publishing Group, Timo Hannay’s projects include: Connotea, a social bookmarking service for scientists; Nature Network, a social network for scientists; and Nature Precedings, a site where researchers can share and discuss work prior to publication. The social and collaborative aspects of these systems are, of course, inspired by their more general counterparts on the web: del.icio.us, Facebook and LinkedIn, the blogosphere.

Jon's interview with Timo Hannay is here. I'm keeping a close eye on what Nature is up to.

Dave Winer's original usage runs: 'I think that narrating your work is the way to go'. I can see why Jon Udell likes that as much as he does.


Post-Platform

Time was (and not long ago) that it seemed like it was Mac vs Windows fanwars all the time. Good to see we're moving on: 'While Windows and Mac users alike get a kick out of making fun of PC, the truth is that both operating systems are useful, and it's extremely useful to be able to use them at the same time, on the same machine' — downloadsquad.

In that spirit, I was pleased to read (via Ian) theAppleblog's post, Windows features OS X should ‘adopt’. (And no, I've not read through the 190 — current count — comments.) If we were enlarging that to consider Windows software you'd like to run on a Mac, Windows Live Writer would come right at the top of my list.

Will Apple ever release their OS to run on non-Apple Intels? Given how we're moving on in the platform debate, it's more than just a pain for the end user that he/she is forced to buy specific hardware in order to experience both platforms on one machine. I'm loathe to do that — and not least because Lenovo ThinkPads are such well made laptops.


Microlearning 2007 … and conversation

Time at last for a couple of conference retrospects. First up, this year's Microlearning organised, as ever, by Martin. It was heralded by a puff from Judy on SmartMobs and it was a great success, Martin — congrats! And many thanks.

A mellow tone developed from the start: the three days saw a lot of warm, friendly conversation and really interesting talks. For me, it was a pleasure to have the chance to chat with Martin at much greater length than last year and to meet (their write-ups of the conference follow in brackets after each name): Hemma Kocher (here), Teemu Leinonen (here), Ajit Jaokar (here), Mark Kramer (here; Mark's photos of the conference are here), Stephanie Rieger, Arnaud Leene (here) and Martina Roth.

Teemu's slides for his talk, 'Knowledge Building in New Media Environments', are on Slideshare, as are mine for my talk, 'Where Next?' — here. Hemma's talk, 'How to Deal With Microcontent at the Workplace 2.0', is available as a podcast (from Mark) here and as slides here.

Martin wrote to me that this year's conference had been something like what he had always imagined university life would/should have been like: 'digital media does create a whole new dimension of "scientific community" - I hated the days of "real hard work in the faculty meatspace"' (Twitter). This is something I keep hearing people say — about the web, about great conferences … To borrow from Martin again, it was an experience of 'collective friendship'.

Conversation is absolutely central here. In his talk, Teemu quoted Mikhail Bakhtin, 'Any true understanding is dialogic in nature', and Tim Spalding's comment on my post of last month, Conversation, led me to Barbara Fister's Gorman Forgets to Wind the Clock and so to Michael Oakeshott's 1959 essay, 'The Voice of Poetry in the Conversation of Mankind'. Disappointingly, this essay doesn't seem to be available online, but Barbara Fister quoted two wonderful passages:

We are the inheritors, neither of an inquiry about ourselves and the world, nor of an accumulating body of information, but of a conversation, begun in the primeval forests and extended and made more articulate in the course of centuries. It is a conversation that goes on both in public and within each of ourselves . . .

Education, properly speaking, is an initiation into the skill and partnership of this conversation in which we learn to recognize the voices, to distinguish the proper occasions of utterance, and in which we acquire the intellectual and moral habits appropriate to conversation. And it is this conversation which, in the end, gives place and character to every human activity and utterance.

And I found more, quoted on Mike Love's blog, in his post Oakeshott’s Conversation of Mankind:

In conversation, ‘facts’ appear only to be resolved once more into the possibilities from which they were made; ‘certainties’ are shown to be combustible, not by being brought in contact with other ‘certainties’ or with doubts, but by being kindled by the presence of ideas of another order; approximations are revealed between notions normally remote from one another. Thoughts of different species take wing and play round one another, responding to each other’s movements and provoking one another to fresh exertions. Nobody asks where they have come from or on what authority they are present; nobody cares what will become of them when they have played their part. … voices which speak in conversation do not compose a hierarchy. Conversation is not an enterprise designed to yield an extrinsic profit, a contest where a winner gets a prize, not is it an activity of exegesis; it is an unrehearsed intellectual adventure. It is with conversation as with gambling, its significance lies neither in winning nor in losing, but in wagering. Properly speaking, it is impossible in the absence of a diversity of voices: in it different universes of discourse meet, acknowledge each other and enjoy an oblique relationship which neither requires nor forecasts their being assimilated to one another.

This, I believe, is the appropriate image of human intercourse, appropriate because it recognizes the qualities, the diversities, and the proper relationships of human utterances.

There's a lot to think about in that! (Need to get hold of the whole essay.) I love how Konrad Glogowski plucks out part of it in Unending Conversation and writes, 'teaching, the way I see it, is what Michael Oakeshott refers to as "unrehearsed intellectual adventure"'.

And doesn't what Oakeshott wrote remind you of something else? Play. 'Thoughts of different species take wing and play round one another, responding to each other’s movements and provoking one another to fresh exertions.'

*****

We surely need some full studies of conversation — it occurs in so many ways. It's realised when companies find that users generate up to 70% more tagging terms than the company taxonomists had dreamed of (because that's how users talk about what's important to them) — Thomas: a triumph of the vernacular over the-officially-provided. (The del.icio.us lesson holds good — and see also the later post — but conversation ensues.) It's conversation that organisations of all types are in part trying to enable when they aspire to go beyond the artery-clogging practice of e-mail. And it's conversation that drives me to del.icio.us-tag items found via friends and people I know through the web with 'via: ...': I want to keep those links alive in my outboard memory as well as in my own head. (There's something very Ted Nelson about this — show all the links. A humanist's web. I would dearly love to see del.icio.us develop more of its native social identity.)

At Reboot this year, one of the most interesting slides I saw was Jyri's of the the hum/wave//beat/particle world of communication. I posted this slide on my Tumblr site, here, and you can access Jyri's talk here, Microblogging: Tiny social objects. On the future of participatory media. Right now, I find I'm using hum/wave software tools a lot (that's what they're there for, that's why they're hum/wave), Twittering and Jaikuing away (even Pownce-ing a bit) — part of that online, conversational world that David Weinberger calls 'continuous partial friendship' and that Martin refers to as 'creating the kind of little loose social events we'd like to have in a real-space environment, but now in the digital dimension':

 … part of the greater tendency to *duplicate* the dimension of small events that together make "daily life" into the digital dimension. like, say, meeting people at the university campus, exchanging witty, sarcastic, melancholic comments in the floors, between courses ... or at an office floor in some media company ... it is an "urban lifestyle layer" for non-spaces.

The best things I've read on Twitter (the above apart): Ian Curry's take, Twitter: The Missing Messenger, and his use of 'phatic function' (Bakhtin/Jakobson); Matt(Jones)'s comment there, referring to Matt(Webb)'s brilliant Glancing piece; Khoi Vinh's Writing and Sizing Twitter (which I heard him talk about at FoWA); Leisa's Ambient Intimacy ('Ambient intimacy is about being able to keep in touch with people with a level of regularity and intimacy that you wouldn’t usually have access to, because time and space conspire to make it impossible') and Reboot talk (which I got to hear).

Of course, you can say Twitter's 'not for conversation… it’s for stream of consciousness thoughts or status reports', but I don't think that's the whole truth. Ambient things get taken up into conversation, become themselves part of the conversation. (Yes, there's the tension between Twitter's ambient nature and its capacity for threaded conversation … But there's also this other, distinct phenomenon — I've lost count of how many times, meeting someone in the flesh, we refer to things we know about through Twittering.)

I also want to situate 'conversation' in a Long Now perspective. The young are inspiring and, as we grow older, it's obviously in them that our hopes for the future come naturally, and increasingly, to rest. I can well imagine being one day where the great Richard Feynman found himself towards the end of his life — in this conversation with Danny Hillis:

"I'm sad because you're going to die."

"Yeah," he sighed, "that bugs me sometimes too. But not so much as you think." And after a few more steps, "When you get as old as I am, you start to realize that you've told most of the good stuff you know to other people anyway."

But before that (!), we need to get the young to our conferences — and you can imagine my delight that people were saying this to me at Microlearning and Reboot and Interesting2007. You know, you don't find this attitude everywhere you go. Thanks, again, Martin.


Failure

I'm always fascinated by the way people talk about failure. Reminded by reading again James Dyson's famous remark, "Enjoy failure and learn from it. You can never learn from success." (at Dan Saffer's blog), here are some of my other favourite touchstone quotations/reference points on failure and its close relationship with learning, creativity and innovation. When we spend so much time training young people to jump through examiners' hoops, we ought to be very concerned about how we are also steering them away from taking risks — away from daring to fail, to be innovative and, yes, wrong. Effecting change in education that does something about this requires just as much visionary leadership and management as it does in business.

Failure is the rule rather than the exception, and every failure contains information. One of the most misleading lessons imparted by those who have reached their goal is that the ones who win are the ones who persevere. Not always. If you keep trying without learning why you failed, you'll probably fail again and again. Perseverance must be accompanied by the embrace of failure. Failure is what moves you forward. Listen to failure. Steve Wozniak

Tough task, to open a high-profile conference like Aula2006 (see this previous post for background) with a speech on "failure". But social software expert Clay Shirky dissected it carefully and out came an interesting insight: organizations that want to encourage innovation should focus on reducing the cost of failure rather than focusing on minimizing its likelihood, as most companies do today. LunchoverIP

"Getting good" at failure, however, doesn't mean creating anarchy out of organization. It means leaders -- not just on a podium at the annual meeting, but in the trenches, every day -- who create an environment safe for taking risks and who share stories of their own mistakes. It means bringing in outsiders unattached to a project's past. It means carving out time to reflect on failure, not just success. Perhaps most important, it means designing ways to measure performance that balance accountability with the freedom to make mistakes. People may fear failure, but they fear the consequences of it even more. "The performance culture really is in deep conflict with the learning culture," says Paul J. H. Schoemaker, CEO of consulting firm Decision Strategies International Inc. "It's an unusual executive who can balance these." BusinessWeek

Being setup for failure is to be setup for success. This week I plan to rejoice in my various failed trials and actions. I hope your week goes just as well for you too. John Maeda

Enlightened managers strive to be collaborative rather than controlling. Only through engaged conversations over time can managers create failure-tolerant work environments that invite innovation. This is not to say that a major achievement shouldn’t be applauded, or that repeated, avoidable mistakes should be tolerated. But astute managers mark the daily progress of small successes and failures with an evenhanded, open curiosity about the lessons learned and the next steps to take. Richard Farson

Dyson: There’s a famous Honda (NYSE:HMC) quote. I’ll get it slightly wrong, but in essence what it says is, “You’ve got to fail and then have the courage to overcome failure in order to succeed.” FastCompany.com

You once described the inventor's life as "one of failure." How so?
[Dyson:] I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That's how I came up with a solution. So I don't mind failure. I've always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they've had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.

Not all failures lead to solutions, though. How do you fail constructively?
We're taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven't, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that's very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It's exciting, actually. To me, solving problems is a bit like a drug. You're on it, and you can't get off. I spent seven years on our washing machine [which has two drums, instead of one].
FastCompany.com

JP wrote something about failure recently and mentioned Esther Dyson's famous saying, 'Always make new mistakes'. (I have Esther Dyson's saying as a fridge magnet in both London and Wiltshire.) JP concluded:

Today, we are so enmeshed in blame cultures that organisations often get into Failure-Is-Not-An-Option syndrome. What happens in this syndrome is that people hide failure rather than prevent it, and over time that hiding culture gets deep into the organisation. This culminates in an even worse syndrome, The-Emperor’s-New-Clothes syndrome. Here, everyone knows that what they say is not true, yet no one does anything about it.

Without risk there is no learning. Without learning there is no life. We need to be careful about being too careful. 


Ted Nelson

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Ted came to speak at St Paul's last Tuesday. He was on great form. Just turned 70, he spoke with few notes and to the theme of his book-in-progress, Geeks Bearing Gifts — a look at how technology advances not by deep intent and precise planning but through accident and politics ('the clash and resolution of agendas'): nineteenth century rail track development (Brunel's broad gauge vs standard gauge), space travel (the science was developed by the Russian Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, but Goddard gets the credit), the invention of radio — Tesla ('the man who invented the twentieth century') vs Marconi, the American space programme (V-2 rockets, von Braun — Operation Paperclip — and the course of NASA's development) …

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Including von Braun allowed Ted to mention the 1960 film about his work, I Aim at the Stars — subtitled by wits, 'But Sometimes I Hit London'. This was a talk peppered with good jokes. (Photos left and right by Frode Hegland.)

Then on to computing technology, software and hardware, and the erratic, kludgy nature of its development. The highly partisan Apple/Microsoft war-of-loyalty is wholly beside the point when the angle of approach is the one Ted takes, but he still had a great line on Windows: you can tell that it was designed from the ground up 'because there's a lot of … ground still up there'. In a Nelson world, the clipboard of either OS would have been fundamentally overhauled and made useful, not reduced to a feeble echo of the real-life clipboard on which it was modelled.

I hope Geeks Bearing Gifts sees the light to day: listening to Ted talk about the history of computing you appreciate how deeply he has lived and known its history over the last 45+ years. He understands Doug Engelbart's vision from the inside (the mouse was a detail — 'the work of a weekend', so to speak) and he had so much to communicate in the hour he had with us he only had 15 minutes in which to demo Xanadu (beginning with the Cosmic Book) and ZigZag.

Lunch came and discussion went on. Several of our students followed up next day, emailing Ted to maintain the link he'd established so well with them. Ted and Marlene (Mallicoat) made great guests.

Ted left us with working versions of both Xanadu and ZigZag. The latter can be downloaded from here and Xanadu is now available here. There's an excellent video available of Adam Moore (Nottingham University), working with ZigZag and biological and chemical data:

Further ZigZag resources are available online here.

All in all, we had a really good few hours together. What's more, a chance discovery by Ted of some mint first editions of Computer Lib meant we could buy a copy for departmental use (student and staff), as well as one for our main reference library. It was published in 1974 and you only have to dip into it to see it was way ahead of its time.

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