Quality and bootstrapping
Andrew Pam. 1.*
- unedited transcript -
I should just probably give a brief. I'm Andrew Pam but my affiliate is actually a bit more complicated because I'm involved with a number of different things. For example, I've contributed a favorite to Linux here and there recently. I've been working pretty extensively with Xanadu project since 1994. Prior to that was a beta tester and I also worked with my partner Katherine, who is here today, on a thing called Glass Wings which is about creating media and publishing on the net and preserving literature and so forth, which kind of overlaps with the Xanadu goals except that Xanadu is more about enabling the tools where Glass Wings is more about actually doing it. So I just wanted to briefly say that Xanadu itself does parallel Doug's vision quite a lot. Ted's vision is really more about enhancing the capabilities of the individual. Not to say that there is no concept of collaborative work but that the focus has been more on how can we at least make tools that better use digital technology, communications and computer technology to enable the abilities of the individual to correct things. Where as I see Doug's vision more as how do we enhance collective intelligence, that's what this has all been about? The two obviously do overlap to a very large extent. The same set of tools often benefits both goals. Anything that benefits individuals does often have application to the group and visa versa. There's certainly been some degree of overlap and as I said I've not only been affiliated with Xanadu I've also spent some time tracking other hyper media projects over the last, at least, half decade probably longer. I'll just give a quick bit of information with some URL's they use. The Xanadu project itself information is at Xanadu.net and that started out as a kind of a monolithic project because when Xanadu started in the 1960's there really was no internet, no open community, there really wasn't any share ware or open-sources we know now. Even though the standard in the early days was to share the source code there really was no user community of a kind that there is today. So the original model for Xanadu was a single project and it's goal was really to, as I said, enhance the ability of the individual to correct and to preserve literature, information and knowledge. That sounds simple but of course it turned out to be multi-faceted and very complex indeed and there are a whole lot of different aspects of that involved many people, many very bright people including for example Eric Drexler who was involved in it in the early days for quite some period of time. There was a period between 1988 and 1992 where in fact Xanadu was a research branch of Autodisk and that was in fact proprietary at that point. When we open-sourced that code last year at the Montreal open-source conference, Mark Miller remarked that having had that previously proprietary work that he done locked up for ten years and finally having open-source was like getting a big chunk of his brain back because now he can actually do other work without having to always worry about how was that going to tread on stuff that he wasn't aloud to talk about?
ENGELBART: We could go on along time about the nature of the things, but I think the value here would be how do we go ahead that a lot of valuable work there and Ted said, a little buddy of mind for years, so how can we sort of merge and integrate?
PAM: Exactly, so that sort of went on until 1992, then from about 1994 onwards basically we really reexamined it and rather than trading Xanadu as a model with a single project we started to look at were there separable components? We found that yes indeed they were, there were a whole bunch of different technologies effectively that would enable the overall vision and that you could break those up into separate projects and each of those could be separately useful, but if you design them so that they would all interoperate then you would be able to reconstruct the overall vision. So a lot of those components are now being done as open-source projects in various ways in conjunction with other research groups, in conjunction with universities. For example, the Crit project which has been mentioned a couple of times was envisioned as an ounce or two how to do the annotation part of the Xanadu vision. So for the last few years really Xanadu has been working on advancing each of the separate technologies and in such a way that you can plug them together and I think that fits right into it, the idea of the open hyperdocument system.
ENGELBART: The people that developed things we got to give them the space. So the big thing you got to say is, how can we get in touch? Where are the URL's? Where's the community dialogue, etc and start integrating?
PAM: Exactly, well as I said the homepage is Xanadu.net. There are also two other things that are particularly relevant, one of them is that there's historical stuff and mailing lists and so forth reachable from there which at the moment, for lack of anyone else, I'm running at Xanadu.com.au that is linked to the other page anyway.
ENGELBART: So if we go to Xanadu.com.au we can find out and will you set up something special for people here to sort of answer the questions?
PAM: I can certainly do that. There are already mailing lists that are also visible on the web, but I can always create more mailing lists.
ENGELBART: So we can provide you with one of our mailing list entries in which you can put some URL's?
PAM: Absolutely, and the last thing that's relevant is that there is a separate project of Ted Nelson's which is not directly associated with Xanadu called Zig Zag, which is about creating a kind of a structure model that's useful for manipulating knowledge in small chunks and constructing and visualizing that, which I really haven't got time to go into now. We found that can potentially also be used for some of our related goals and can also be used for some of the bootstrap goals. So that's worth looking at as well. I'll just give the two URL's for that. The original demonstration of that which is in Pearl is available at Xanadu.net/zigzag, there is now a new invitation at Java at gzigzag.sourceforge.net.
Above space serves to put hyperlinked targets at the top of the window