Third Edition, 2014
I originally intended to write a book on this subject. I had been writing essays about it for some time and it seemed only natural to put it all together in book form. But then I realized that writing it as a book would lose four benefits of being on the web. First, I would lose the rich expressive possibilities of hypertext. There was a time, a decade or so ago, when people were convinced that hypertext was going to change the world. Well, we created an entire web that is basically one monstrous hypertext document, and few people attribute its great impact on our lives to its hypertextiness. People will point to a great many benefits of the web, but hypertextiness is seldom mentioned. It’s a shame, because hypertextiness, done right, really is much more effective than traditional linear text. I intend to prove that with this hypertext document.
The second benefit of doing this on the web is that I can self-publish. One problem with writing a book is finding a publisher; it took me over a year to find a publisher for Understanding Interactivity, a book for which my credentials are superb. For a book like this, where I have no academic credentials, I’ll never get a publisher’s attention. Like it or not, the web is the only way these ideas will make it into the world.
The third benefit of doing this on the web is that it’s free. It costs me almost nothing to give you access to the material, and so I don’t have to charge you anything, and you can concentrate on the ideas.
The fourth benefit is that my own writing style comports well with hypertext. I think in chunks, and each chunk can be tackled in one page. Be warned, however: some of the pages in this hyperdocument contain links to other pages that are accessible only from those pages. There is no table of contents because that’s a linear structure, and the ideas in this hyperdocument are linked together in a tree structure, not a linear structure.
The basic structure of this document is simple: the highest-level page presents the main argument. Each component of that argument has links to more detailed explanations of the material, which in turn link to more detailed explanations, and so on. I’ll keep adding components to this document, likely until the day I die. Of course, there are also plenty of cross-links. There’s also an index that is just a big pile of keywords with links for them.
A note on style: this is not an academic paper. I have no interest in getting my work published in some academic journal. I have therefore not scrupled to cite other work. This in no way represents an attempt to present any of this work as my own. Many of the ideas in this hyperdocument are taken straight out of other works. Some of them are my own. My belief is that the utility of an idea does not depend on who said it. If your skepticism is of an ad hominem nature, forcing you to demand to know the authority behind each statement, then I invite you to consult any of the works I present in the bibliography. I have presented the ideas here as honestly and clearly as I can; that is all I ask of any other person.
This is the third edition of this work. I wrote the first edition in the late 1990s, but continued my researches. In the second edition, I added more details. In the third edition, I am organizing it to include the five cognitive revolutions that I identify as part of the history of thinking.
And so, on to the core argument!