Ted's Excellent Australian Adventure

Copyright (c) 1994 Katherine Phelps
Ted's week long visit to Australia was without a doubt an unqualified success. Ted had a good time, we made lots of useful contacts and the media loved him. Given the national government's sudden interest in the potential to use and export digital delivery systems throughout the Asian-Pacific region, Ted Nelson and the Xanadu system were certain celebrities.

In the weeks before Ted's arrival it looked like the more relaxed leg of his trip was to be in Melbourne. Just as well, since it is worth planning for jet lag. I had forgotten Melbournians' tendency, like Seattlites, to be laid back and wait until the last minute to arrange things. This does not make for a laid back life for the organiser. Upon Ted's landing at the Melbourne International Airport 10:00am Friday 8 April, we whisked him away to Cafe a la Gare for lunch and an interview with a reporter from The Age, quickly followed by delivery to our home and another interview with a reporter from Business Review Weekly.

Other Melbourne events included the Team Xan lunch. Ted had a chance to meet with many of the people who have been directly and indirectly helping us build Xanadu Australia, which totalled to twelve that day. This inspired our photographer to take some very amusing Last Supper pictures. A reception was held in Ted's honour at the Swanston Hotel. Attending were some major university and business figures in the Melbourne computer industry such as John Bird, Executive Director of the National Centre for New Media Arts & Technologies, and people from Hiser Consulting Group. Ted lectured at Monash University, CITRI (Collaborative Information Technology Research Institute) and publicly at the State Film Centre of Victoria. All along the trip we heard people telling Ted that he was the reason they went into computing. After Ted's lecture at Monash, however, a student came up to Andrew and said that he was the reason why this student had gone into computing! He had been a schoolmate of Andrew's when he attended Preshil secondary school. Ted was also interviewed by Australian MacUser.

At the Sydney end of things Ted attended the National Convergence Symposium. He had come at the special invitation of the Symposium itself and its chair, Jane Levine, who had suggested him as a speaker. Gratifyingly, Ted's presentation became the talk of the symposium. A number of the other speakers presented information about digital delivery and commercialisation, and yet obviously did not grasp the scope of what could be done even now. We were approached by Victoria Rubensohn, chair of the national Copyright Convergence Group, and Christopher Keely, advisor to the Hon. Duncan Kerr M.P. Minister for Justice, who were impressed by the Xanadu copyright solutions. Hyperlunch, a group who get together monthly to discuss applications of hypermedia, had Ted join them and give a talk. For me this was one of the more fascinating groups Ted spoke to since it ranged from computer professionals, to graphic artists, film makers and literary critics. Ted even managed to get some footage for his on-going production of Silicon Valley Story at the lunch.

The pinnacle of the trip had to be Ted's appearance on the Andrew Denton Show which airs on Australia's top rating TV channel. The Denton Show is a comedy talk show something like David Letterman's in the US. Ted was asked to speak on tele-dildonics, but still managed to squeeze in something about Xanadu over the national airwaves. Most fortunately the other guest on the show was Michael Lavarch, the Attorney General. We cornered him in the green room to discuss copyright, censorship and, of course, Xanadu.

The only slip up of note during Ted's visit was when all of us forgot an interview with Rosie Cross of ABC Radio National on the last day of his stay. Since we know Rosie Cross through a mutual friend, we sent her a bouquet of flowers and arranged for a telephone interview after Ted returned to the US. Though initially disappointed, she was still quite pleased to have the interview.

Ted's visit helped Xanadu Australia considerably, giving us visibility and credibility. The fact that we have been able to organise so much media and so much interest amongst the public and key industry players throughout the country, has demonstrated that we can and indeed we will realise the dream of an electronic free market and interconnected media. Maybe next time Ted Nelson visits us, he will stay long enough to see the kangaroos at Healesville Sanctuary.

For more information about Xanadu we have established an international point of contact with the following facilities:

We have produced and are maintaining a Frequently Asked Questions document about Xanadu which is available through the methods listed above and also published to a variety of relevant Usenet newsgroups approximately monthly.

We are making a variety of documents about Xanadu available by post, fax, email, Gopher, WWW and Hyper-G.