Reading I – Thoughts on Computer Lib / Dream Machines

Reading this work reminds me of a video I watched once, a demonstration of one of the first computer mice ever created by computer engineers…in the late 1960s. It’s amazing just how much of the foundations of our use of personal computers today were based on prototypes or proposals decades before.

Nelson’s work is about as forward thinking as it could be for its time – we see elements of his Xanadu in today’s hyperlinks making up the World Wide Web and version control software like Git or Mercurial. Granted, a few of his ideas seem somewhat odd – I’m not sure Stretchtext as a delivery of information is entirely necessary – but for the most part, they are sound and eerily prescient. In fantics I see the ideal of today’s field of Human-Computer Interaction.

Furthermore, although it is not explored, the ideas behind fantics are just as useful and important when applied to games. Indeed, I would argue some of the best games are fantically sound in their intuitive control schemes and allowing the player to make gameplay choices without “condescension”.

I was disappointed that Computer Lib was not included in whole, though I understand that for me it would serve of diminished value, being an experienced user of the personal computer. Still, it would have allowed me to get into the mindset of those who were not born with computers already in their life.