Movements of rotation and revolution Hypertext in the Seventies


  • Paola Castellucci Università di Roma "La Sapienza"

Parole chiave:

Hypertext; interactive books; Man-Computer Interaction; Digital Humanities; Ted Nelson; Computer Lib/Dream Machines;


Ted Nelson (a counter-cultural intellectual, educated at Harvard and self-educated in arts, movies and Computer Science) coined the word hypertext in 1965. Ted Nelson was planning a radically new way of managing texts and other media in a non-sequential way: by using the computer. Even at that time Nelson was dreaming of a docuverse disseminated by the Net: a world-wide “book”, with no borders, and linked to any other possible text, image, or video.

The paper focuses on the self-published book Computer Lib/Dream Machine, 1974,  very successful among young communities of readers attracted by the idea of the computer as a way to personal liberation and political revolution. The leading metaphor of hypertextuality was the de-centralization of power to the borders, and it immediately became a manifesto, a mantra. 

Computer Lib/Dream Machine is an interactive and movable book from many points of view: it is reversible, with two covers, no index. It had to be moved upside down and left-right, to be read. And the reader himself had to “move” and join the fight towards a new dimension of art and knowledge.

Comparisons with Michel Butor, Raymond Queneau and Bruno Munari are suggested