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Re: Wired article
- To: xanadu@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Re: Wired article
- From: Andrew Pam <avatar@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 2 Jun 1995 10:21:18 +1000 (EST)
- In-reply-to: <email@example.com> from "Eric Watt Forste" at Jun 1, 95 02:44:15 pm
- Organization: Xanadu Australia
- Reply-to: xanadu@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
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> Mark Miller has made public comments that indicate his displeasure with the
> article. Apparently he thinks they got many facts wrong in their effort to
> drum up a little sensation.
I agree totally. Here's a draft of my response to Wired magazine:
Wired magazine is one of the few magazines on my "must read" list,
together with Whole Earth Review and Boardwatch. The main reason it
stays on the top of my reading list is that almost every article
introduces me to new ideas, inspires me to new thoughts, or evokes an
emotion in me. These are my measures of the success of an article.
The article "The Curse of Xanadu" by Gary Wolf in the June issue was
certainly written to evoke emotions from the reader. It was structured
as a tragedy, ending with the pitiable plight of depressive Roger
Gregory. The only problem with this story is that the ending hasn't
been written yet. The story as presented only follows the history of
Xanadu until the end of 1993, just prior to my involvement.
I had been on the Xanadu beta team for some time, and as long as I
continued to receive material from the Xanadu Operating Company I was
happy that progress was being made, although I did eventually become
concerned at the delays in sending executable code. However, in early
1993 the bombshell hit. Xanadu had been dropped by Autodesk and was
without funding. Xanadu had articulated my own dream of a world-wide
information repository, and I would not stand by and see it disappear.
So it was that my partner Katherine Phelps and I contacted Ted Nelson
and arranged to visit him to discover what had happened to the project.
One thing led to another and we signed non-disclosure agreements, were
inducted into all the Xanadu trade secrets, and became the first Xanadu
licensees under the name of Xanadu Australia.
In 1994, Ted was invited to found the Sapporo Hyperlab in Japan and Sam
Epstein's Sensemedia, developers of the WWW MOO (known as WOO), became
the second licensee, Xanadu America. Some of the original Xanadu team
came together again under the name Memex, later changed to Filoli, and
are working to complete the original software. Xanadu Australia began
actively promoting Xanadu on the Internet.
Although Gary Wolf points out that the Xanadu project has had a
startling propensity to fail on the brink of success, he fails to also
note that this tendency is matched by a remarkable capacity to rise
unexpectedly from the ashes like Phoenix, each time stronger than the
last. It is the dream that would not die.
Many people have drawn an analogy between Xanadu and Coleridge's poem
that inspired the name, and perhaps that is indeed apt. Although
Coleridge himself claimed that there were many more lines to the poem
that he was never able to remember, as Katherine has pointed out,
literary analysis does not support this; the poem appears to be complete.
Perhaps Xanadu has been complete all along. It is after all the idea
itself, rather than the specialised software, that has achieved enormous
success. Few hypermedia products today do not bear some inspiration
derived, directly or indirectly, from the Xanadu ideas and ideals.
What better testament than that?
<mailto:avatar@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> Andrew Pam
<http://www.aus.xanadu.com/xanadu> Coordinator, Xanadu Australia
<http://www.glasswings.com.au/GlassWings> Technical Editor, Glass Wings
<http://www.sericyb.com.au/sc> Manager, Serious Cybernetics
P.O. Box 409, Canterbury VIC 3126 Australia Phone +61 3 9888-8845