I guess the first question I have is —
How much of the Internet today is like what Nelson describes?
Is it fair to compare the two, considering that Nelson really sees today’s WWW as being very different from what he envisioned/envisions today?
In his piece, Nelson says several times that what he imagines would be very simple. He has also said recently that today’s Internet is too complicated. Do we agree that what he lays out in his piece is simple? What about our system today, is it too complicated?
A colleague mentioned to me that she was in a workshop recently regarding modules and someone asked about embedded videos and pics. The workshop leader said they were moving away from embedding vids and pics and just using links so that the pages would display in mobile platforms. What are the new affordances in today’s tech? Are there limitations (like leaving out images and vids in order to have mobile access)? I guess I am constantly trying to grapple with my own relationship to technology. I don’t see myself using mobile and find it a somewhat difficult medium to navigate (i.e., I would rather be at home, with my keyboard and mouse, taking my time to peruse many web sites, click on their links, view all of their images, appreciate their layouts, take time to compose texts, etc.). But what about younger users? Will mobile tech be second-nature to them? Would a large screen be overwhelming for them? Would they have a hard time taking in a larger display and broader range of information? Or can they already do that now, just on a micro scale?
Let me suggest that such an object and system, properly designed and administered, could have great potential for education, increasing the student’s range of choices, his sense of freedom, his motivation, and his intellectual grasp. (144)
I always find it interested when people emphasize or advocate a notion of “freedom” on the Internet or with hypertext, hyperlinking, etc. This sense of freedom is always illusory, in our own lives and most certainly on the Interwebs. And Nelson certainly does include the word “sense,” foregrounding the fact that the freedom is an illusion, but I just always find it interesting to come back to.
I also like his statement near the end,
It is useful where relationships are unclear; where contingencies and tasks are undefined and unpredictable; where the structures or final outcome it must represent are not yet fully known; where we do not know the file’s ultimate arrangement; where we do not know what parts of the file are most important; or where things are in permanent and unpredictable flux. Perhaps this includes more places than we think. And perhaps here, as in biology, the only ultimate structure is change itself. (144)