Maverick software genius Ted Nelson detailed a quartet of his latest software creations during a surprise appearance at the Seventh World Wide Web conference.
Nelson, father of the hypertext concept on which the Web is based and founder of the legendary Xanadu global hypertext publishing project, was given the $10,000 Yuri Rubinsky Insight Foundation Award.
In his acceptance speech to 1200 applauding conference delegates, the controversial computer visionary outlined four new products he has been working on for the last three years:
- A proposed copyright method that will "allow everyone to quote anyone else, without red tape or negotiation and without damaging copyright";- A public domain version of the Xanadu global hypertext publishing system;- A new system called HyperCoin designed as a vehicle for copyright payments that requires no plug ins and "is designed in the spirit of the Internet to allow everyone to be a seller as well as a buyer";- A new proposal for a complete computing world which Nelson said might be called Rubik's operating system.
Nelson's 30-year obsession with the Xanadu system ended in commercial failure in the late 1980s after AutoCad publisher Autodesk pumped millions of dollars into it.
However that hasn't dented his status as a software designer of genius and Web developers lined up for his autograph at a panel session following his award.
During his short acceptance speech, Nelson said the World Wide Web's success was based on its "elegant simplification" which "completely ignores all the real problems of hypertext and hypermedia".
HTML must now deal with problems of link types, version management, rights management, annotation and document description, he said. However trying to fix it will be like "grafting arms and legs onto hamburger".