About sybil

editor, writer, reader, returning to blogging

Computer Lib/ Dream Machines

nelson book Ted Nelson is often cited as the guy who invented the term hypertext. So, I thought, let’s see what he actually said. It wasn’t easy to track down his 1973 book Dream Machines, in which he wrote at length about hypertext. I had to borrow a copy from Massey University Library in New Zealand. But what a delight this book turned out to be when it finally arrived. So evocative of the 1970s, fired by idealism, self-sufficiency, anti-authoritarianism, and plain wackiness (witness the fact it’s two books in one, and you can start at either end). Plus I’d forgotten how major a role photocopying and physical pasting played in the creation of the media of that era: reminded me of making student newspapers in the 1970s by cutting out out a story or illustration that took your fancy in another publication, and simply gluing it into the layout of your own. Thanks Ted!

Midnight Empire and Edward Snowden

Talk about life imitating art! Really struck by the parallels between Andrew Croome’s 2012 novel Midnight Empire and the case of Edward Snowden. In case you haven’t read it, Midnight Empire tells the story of a clever young man who is seconded to work on the US drone operation, installing and then running an app invented by a small firm based in Canberra. Night after night of watching drone strikes in the Middle East proves too much for him. Croome also wrote Document Z, which was based on real events (as they say): the defection of Vladimir Petrov, a Soviet spy based in Canberra. Both good reads.Image

Rebel Jacqueline (cont.)

Hmmm. Dug out my old copy of RJ and re-read it at the weekend. A strangely sectarian plot about a French Protestant girl being kidnapped by evil Catholics who want to take her to Canada on a brideship, and marry her off to a settler (sex and religion!). But Jacqueline disguises herself as an old crone, making a false hump for her back, and cutting up a black rag then sticking pieces of it over her teeth with soap (a disguise I’ve often used myself). Surprisingly, no one wants to marry her.

She escapes in a ship bound for Normandie, but is discovered and deposited back on shore. So far everything except scalping by wild Indians and outright rape has occurred, but through the power of prayer and personal initiative, Jacqueline is holding her own.