Ted Nelson is an American pioneer of information technology, philosopher, and sociologist. He coined the terms hypertext and hypermedia, as well as transclusion, virtuality, and intertwingularity. During college and graduate school, he started developing Project Xanadu, a computer-based writing system that would provide a lasting repository for the world’s knowledge, and also permit greater flexibility of drawing connections between ideas. He is the author of Computer Lib / Dream Machines—a minority report (1974), Literary Machines (1981), The Future of Information (1997), among others.
IA Summit 2015
Topic(s): culture, information architecture, and language
Computing legend Ted Nelson delivers his video address.
Ted Nelson: I’m honored to keynote this information architecture summit. And sorry I can’t be with you in person.
My title is “New Fields and Field Effects.”
Ted: Starting a new field is fun. I’ve done it a couple times. But you never know how it will turn out. Now, I’m told that information architecture is not a new field. It’s new to me, under that name anyway.
I never heard of information architecture before I was invited to speak, so undoubtedly, information architecture under that name is new or nonexistent to millions of others.
So I’ll call it a new field, meaning that is aspirational, struggling and not established in public consciousness. A new field, a claimant new field, a putative new field, must compete with hundreds of other fields for respect, attention, grants, patronage, customers, office space, students, acolytes and inheritors. Whether anybody can get a job by claiming competence in a field that is not well known is a tricky question involving appearances and street smarts and luck.
What is a field? A school of thought in some zone of concern. A way of operating and thinking. Professionals wanting respect in business under a specific label and claiming special understandings, special abilities.
The political issue facing the new field and its adherents is how to establish the name and create a public image of competence. Staking out an area that seems to make sense to people, but if it makes too much sense, then most people won’t think the field is necessary. So there needs to be a little evasive hauteur and hocus pocus, if not hokum.
Publicizing and celebrating the new field in name and its claims are politically central. We could compare it to a new religion, but let’s not go there.
Ted: Whether a name for a field catches on or not is very political and also very much a question of what clicks in the public mind. There probably have been hundreds of attempts to start and publicize new fields that did or usually did not catch on. Partly because of the rivalries of fields that were already there. If they have to make room, adjusting their borders topologically, it means smaller territory in the subject, and fewer students and less customers.
Here are some favorites of mine that didn’t catch on. Methetics, supposedly the science of learning, but the “Journal of Methetics” only printed two issues. That shows the problem.
Euthenics. Anecdote…50 years ago when I was teaching sociology at Vassar College, my office was in a building called — I kid you not — the Minnie Cumnock Blodgett Hall of Euthenics. The building name has rung in my ears down the decades. Benefactress Blodgett thought of “euthenics” as being the science of behaving right, which you expected to complementary to eugenics, which was going to be, in those days, the science of breeding right.
Well, I’m sure the building still stands. I don’t know about the plaque, but few of us order our lives by either eugenics or euthenics.
Nexialism, the study of connections. I typed up a business card as a teenager saying I was a nexialist. It was for myself. I think I filed it somewhere. I know some nexialists, but they don’t use the word.
Synectics, also the study of connections or maybe the science of creativity. Great name, no contracts.
Intellectronics. I love that one. Could be anything, but it doesn’t get around much anymore.
Informatics. A much better term than “information technology” or IT. Used in France, but not in English speaking countries. Anecdote. I wrote to Informatics, Inc., in 1963 I think it was. And asked if I could use the term “informatics” generically. They wrote back and said I couldn’t. I didn’t know trademark law, so I left it at that.
Of course, I could have used the term generically, and it might have become the name of the field today. Sigh.
Ted: Here are some fields and labels that sort of caught on.
Ergonomics, a technical sounding name for making things easy to use, which semi caught on.
Human factors, a nontechnical sounding name for making things easy to use, which semi caught on.
Communication design. Pretty broad. Anecdote. At one university where I worked, communication design was apparently a euphemism for training in advertising. I gave a talk on hypertext to the communication design department in 1973. I talked about the human future and interactive screens and documents that connected to each other.
One student complained fiercely. “What has this got to do with comm design?” It seemed to me everything, but I was unable to help him see it.
Here are some fields that had to fight their way in.
Computer science. Fought at first by mathematics departments and engineering departments.
Computer graphics. Fought at first by computer science departments and fought in the ACM by SIGIR, the Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval.
HCI, Human Computer Interaction which was fought in the ACM by SIGGRAPH, the computer graphics special interests group, which, of course, had fought its way in.
And, oh, yes, hypertext. Anecdote. For some reason, artificial intelligence has been the greatest natural enemy of hypertext. Many artificial intelligence guys hated the idea. So hypertext versus AI was a cat and dog situation from the beginning, although it took me decades to recognize it.
A first example. I visited CIA headquarters in Langley in 1966 and found myself in a nest of AI guys. They hated what I said about hypertext.
23 years later at an AI conference, I spoke about hypertext and the next speaker was Doug Lenat, a famous AI guy. His first words were, “Hypertext is evil.” This was a couple years before the Web.
So here now is information architecture. What does information architecture claim to be? What Wikipedia says—”information architecture is specialized skill set that involves the categorization of information into a coherent structure, preferably one that the intended audience can understand quickly if not inherently. And then easily retrieve the information for which they are searching.”
Ted: What usability.gov says—information architecture focuses on organizing, structuring and labeling content in an effective and sustainable way. The goal is to help users find information and complete tasks.
In other words, information architecture is an aspirational new field that wants to claim special understandings of information presentation and organization.
I’m hearing behind that new layouts for flights of documents and pages on the screen, with maybe some new tricks of subject break down.
So your natural enemies in academia and industry are, “information science,” formerly “library science,” technical writers, web designers, HCI, schools of design. Good luck on those political issues.
What do you know that’s special about information presentation? I’ve been here before. I watched computerdom go round and round on presenting information for 50 years. We’re always looking for good ways to get ideas across, but are there really new principles of organization, presentation and, dare I use the word, “teaching” for computer screens?
Are there special methodologies for reducing a subject to a system of presentations? And can they be specially manifested in some new system of web pages or other documents, as document templates can be replicated across topics? Do you really know something special about this? Are there new packaging rules for thought?
Let’s consider the history of document packaging. Based on ancient DNA, especially the FOXP2 gene, human language has probably been on the planet for a million years. At least 50,000 generations. That still gives me a frisson. So all that time there’s been information. There’s always been information architecture from the earliest [inaudible 08:23] historians.
We find unknowable diagrams throughout the ancient world from New Guinea to the Hebrides in both directions. The caves of France and Spain are extremely imaginal. We don’t know who the artists were, what languages they spoke, but they were packaging information for somebody.
Then came representation of speech, alphabets and/or the representation of thought, as in Chinese writing. And that brought documents, stable packages of content that have always been architected.
Many ancient documents had standing formats. Royal decrees, cuneiform records, Bibles and holy books, some with marginal glosses and Hebrew texts like the Talmud, with winding parallel structures.
In modern times came more standard packages. The personal book was a format created by Aldus Manutius.
Newspapers have had standard layout for a long time. Lead paragraph, additional details, who, what, when, where? Though they started off from lot message.
Editorials and magazine pieces have a kind of standardized layout. A hook and then a through line to some zinger.
Academic articles have a standard layout. Abstract, exposition, evidence and argument, conclusion.
TV shows have formats, of course. [inaudible 09:42] .
Emails are a stabilized package visually unchanged since my friend Larry Roberts created the first email reader in the early ’70s. The from, to, and a subject line that trails and drifts into irrelevancy as long tailed replies go back and forth. This is increasingly clumsy.
Ted: And now web pages. They went from simple early styles where text would flow as you made a page narrower. Now if you change the size of the text, you can’t see both ends of the line, because the hard carriage returns that the designers think they are entitled to inflict, think gray sans serif text is too small for us over 40s, and you can’t change the size of it. All framed by acres of white space with junk sliding over whatever you’re trying to read. This is called “design,” because prettiness of some kind if favored over readability.
Which brings us to user experience design.
Now I hear that information architecture is a branch of user experience design. It’s high time. Isn’t that nice? I’m finally hearing about user experience after campaigning for it all my life. I’ve been talking about user experience and designing for it for over 50 years.
User experience is about effects that the user feels, felt effects, or excuse me, field effects. I’ve argued for vividness, clarity, and motivation, vital aspects of user experience.
Anecdote, you’re probably familiar with one of my designs. About 45 years ago, I came up with the idea of the back button, but in 1968, it was only obvious. Obvious is great, I totally agree, but in 1968 it was totally obvious to only one person in the world.
My colleagues at Brown University said, “Users will never understand that,” but they implemented it anyway, and sure enough, it was understandable.
Anecdote, 30 years ago I tried to sell them a Datapoint about screen interaction and the importance of vividness, clarity, and motivation. I took my bosses at Datapoint to a video game parlor to give them a sense of what user experience could mean in terms of vividness, clarity, and motivation.
That was a little after Space Invaders. Games like Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Asteroids, and Centipede pulled quarters out of people’s pockets. They were vivid, clear, and motivating, but one of my bosses who believed in the keyboard command-line dismissed the idea of vividness as up-rater entertainment. He did not get it, and many people still don’t.
Information is a slippery concept. Some say knowledge, but knowledge means truth. Let’s not go there. Most of what we call information is assertions made by authorities, companies, and people filling out forms.
Information is both slippery and fluid. Being fluid, it can be poured into any vessel. You can put the same content, more or less, into bullet points, a documentary film, a poem, an opera, a ballet with lots of detail, and app was simply some piece of writing.
Now I’m a writing chauvinist. I believe good writers, Kipling, Twain loved them. Journalists, novelists, screenwriters, know something about architect in information. Writers and authors are information architects. Each document is a mix of assertion and presentation, and it’s about the connection of ideas represented in so many ways.
The complexity of the writing process is not well understood. No presentation structure is right or wrong, except that it does the job, getting the ideas across and leaving the recipient with a positive frame of mind.
The process of writing is one of abstracting and modeling the subject as related to the mind of the reader spicing it with interest. That isn’t a stable or transposable packaging methodology.
Let’s talk about layouts and formats. I suspect that information architects think a lot about stabilized formats with corresponding parts. This is a fusion of clarification, standardization, aesthetics, and branding. I suspect a mix of motivations here, A, wanting to get meaning across, and, B, wanting a distinctive corporate branding style, but not necessarily contradictive but go in two directions.
I’m dubious about any universal standard layouts. Styles of presentation come and go, but I’m guessing that information architecture is not about standardization. It’s more about, A; some people think that they can create new universal elegant formats, and, B, some people are eager to get house styles, which is a different agenda.
I am not a disinterested observer. I have my own document agenda. I’ve managed to talk a long time today about documents without mentioning my own system, Xanadu, just because it’s too different, incompatible with the Web, off the map of conventional documents which imitate paper, .txt, .PDF, .HTML, they’re all the same to me.
My document world is about parallel pages with visible connections, visible lines connecting content on one page to content on another, every quotation connected its source, Talmudic interconnection for the interactive screen. I hope to have that working one of these years, but it’s going to be simple but diverse in its requirements. Wish me luck.
OK, “closing remarks.” Note that schools have a standard format methodology, and the one thing they achieve reliantly is to make every subject uninteresting.
Whereas, the principle is writing, showing, and teaching about what they always have been. Generate interest and involvement with clarity and orientation.
I sincerely hope that information architecture can make education better. It sounds like you think it can. Thank you.
Moderator: In the last few weeks, we invited folks to submit questions via Twitter, and email, and so forth, and Ted’s produced a 15-minute video with his responses, but if the gods of technology allow, we’re going to actually try to do a live Q&A, via Skype, instead. We’ve got Ted standing by here.
Maybe we can ask Ted to say hello, and I can ask a couple of warm-up questions from the ones he’s already seen.
Ted: Hello, again, to you Information Architecture Summiteers. I don’t see you, but I guess you see me, so there we are. Half [inaudible 16:47] are better than none.
Ted: Oh, wonderful, fabulous. I’m coming to you from the Great Room of the Internet Archive where they have lots of little statues of Internet Archive alumni.
In the back you can see that there’s a great bank of servers. There’s mainly terabytes. Overall, I think 30 petabytes of the Internet Archive are distributed on a number of different server banks, so here we are.
Moderator: Thanks for joining us, Ted. I’m going to kick us off with a couple of questions from the ones you’ve seen, and we’ll see who’s brave enough to line up here to ask you some questions live.
Maybe we can start out with a question from Marsha Havarti, Portland, Oregon. She says she would love to hear about the time you first realized information can have structural and spatial properties and behavior.
Ted: I’m afraid I don’t remember my first time.
As soon as you see a diagram, you know that information has structural properties to be spatially represented.
Diagrams have overview that writing does not. As a boy I especially enjoyed the diagrams in “Time” magazine. They were what are not called infographic diagrams with pictorial elements. And as a boy, I greatly enjoyed diagrams in “Scientific American” and the “Popular Science” magazine.
On a recent trip to Italy, I was struck by the number of diagrams they have in newspapers. Making diagrams is an important skill, a form of information architecture very like writing since you are selecting and structuring the elements intention.
Unfortunately, I fear many Americans can’t understand diagrams, and that’s why we see far too few of them.
Moderator: Great, thanks. We’ll do two questions here from Dalia Levine, of New York, and then we’ll…
Audience Member: She’s right here.
Moderator: Oh, then come on up.
Dalia Levine: Hi, Ted. The question…
Dalia: Do you think the semantic web can help achieve the goal of simultaneously connecting small portions of information?
Ted: Well, first of all, let me take note of the fact that you are the information architecture hunter at Ford Foundation, which is most impressive.
Ted: One of my favorite students from Vassar College is head of some fabulous branch at Ford Foundation, Alison Bernstein. Anyhow, if I may address you as Madame librarian…
Dalia: Yes, you may.
Ted: Unfortunately, I do not understand the semantic web concept. It seems to me about deriving meaning from documents automatically. Human meaning is very complex and only very simple information can be derived from web pages automatically, like shoe sizes and that sort of thing.
But there are large parts of human vocabulary and its intertwingulation that defy algorithmic analysis.
Ted: I would like to answer your other question which I see here, because I love it. She asked also, “How would you construct the argument to a CTO to throw out lumps and address the tiny pieces?”
This question has two principal parts. Part one, how do you argue to a CTO?
I’d give up right there.
Ted: In a corporation, you’re mainly a passenger and the technical guys brook no interference. In corporate politics, you’ll have an assigned zone of competence and a loud opinion. You’re in trouble if you try anything else.
The only way to approach the problem is through the application level, finding applications that do what you want. The CTO is more likely to accept that you’re using some new tool than trying to change his paradigm.
Part two of the question, throw out lumps and address the tiny pieces? I’m not quite sure what you have in mind. It sounds like something like things I’ve said, but so does almost everything.
Ted: We certainly need stable addressability of subdocuments, which the web makes impossible with the embedded markup and font crap.
Audience Member: OK. Hello, Ted. How do we inspire more artists and people in the humanities to engage and understand the potential of computers? Originally you called them “literary machines.”
Ted: Well, my impression is that everyone out there is struggling trying to understand the literary potential of what’s out there. Alas, it’s only web pages essentially which are paper simulations with harpoons to other places, diving boards into the unknown. You cannot see the connections between two pages, as I have said since my first publication on the subject in 1972, you should be able to. I suspect that when we finally get this working, it may yet have an impact. That is my hope.
Audience Member: Thank you.
Moderator: Who’s next?
Abby Covert: Hi, Ted.
Ted: Hi there.
Abby: My name’s Abby Covert. I’m from New York City. How are you?
I want to ask you about one of my favorite words that you coined, which is “hypertext.” Specifically, I want to ask you about kind of this expansion that we’ve made as an industry in information architecture is to start looking…
Ted: Did you say “cannabis expansion?”
Ted: I’m sorry. I didn’t hear it right.
Abby: That’s fine. That was a good laugh.
One of the things that we’ve been trying to figure out is the cross channel implications of information architecture. What does it mean to be a designer that is being asked to work both in physical space as well as in digital space? As a teacher in that space, I’m looking for patterns that can be shared across those worlds.
One of the ones that I would love to apply is hypertextuality to the physical world. I was just wondering if you thought I was crazy for thinking that. That’s all.
Ted: Well, let’s put it this way. Back in the ’70s, I asked Thomas Kuhn if he would mind my redefining the word “paradigm” slightly. And he said, “Oh, do what you like with it. I’ve run it into the ground already.”
Abby: So I should take that as permission then?
Ted: Well, of course.
Abby: Oh, perfect! OK. That’s all I needed.
Ted: Words are not trademarkable or copyrightable. And semantic drift is an inevitable part of language. Memes being what they are, so I don’t quite get how it’s hypertext out there. I mean, a signpost with an arrow is just a signpost with an arrow. As Freud said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
Abby: Got you. OK.
Ted: But trying to do designs that cross media is a very wonderful challenge. All I can say is good luck with it.
Abby: Thank you very much.
Isaac: Hi, Ted. My name’s Isaac. I’m from Seattle.
Isaac: I’ve got a question for you. Ancient oral traditions were transformed by printed literature. Printed literature has been transformed by the Internet and hypertext. What’s next?
Isaac: I’ve heard that you’re…
Ted: …One cannot know. Possibly back to the stone age. People seem to think that the Internet will be with us always. I’m not that optimistic. I think there’s a lot of infrastructure that’s very delicate and very subject to terrorism and all that sort of thing.
Meanwhile, if you’re in one paradigm, it’s impossible to foresee the next. Now, of course, my paradigm for documents is sufficiently different that I’d like to think it’s the next big thing, but it hasn’t been for quite a while, so I keep on hoping.
Isaac: All right. Thank you.
Dan Klyn: Hello, Mr. Nelson. My name is Dan Klyn, I’m from Grand Rapids, Michigan. When I saw the video that you recorded for us, it looked like that was your home. Is that true?
Ted: Yeah. Yeah, that’s our houseboat in Sausalito.
Dan: I’m curious about information architecture and how it is or isn’t related to the architecture of physical space. Were you involved in the design and construction of your houseboat? Are the ways that you think about making information be good are related to the ways that you think about the way we can make physical space be good?
Ted: Oh, my! We could talk about that for hours.
First of all, no. I did not design our houseboat. It became available.
Ted: As a boy, at the age of 10, one of my great heroes was Frank Lloyd Wright, and still is, for all his character issues. Nevertheless, his designs are fabulous. To be inside a Frank Lloyd Wright space is a wonderful experience. If anybody gets to Marin County, if anybody gets to the San Francisco area, by all means go 13 miles north to the Marin Civic Center, which he designed, which is one of the most fabulous spaces I’ve ever been in.
Dan: Me, too. That’s one of my favorites also.
Ted: Yes. We were married there, my wife and I. And it’s free. The cafeteria cleans out. Opens up to a long fountain and a steeple. And ducks making love. It’s just marvelous.
Ted: At any rate, this brings up a point that occurred to me rather recently. Abstraction is the center of thinking. Abstraction is the center of problem solving, where we try to find what is in common and what we would use among seemingly disparate elements.
But I can distinguish two kinds of abstraction. In science and in many areas, we have subtractive abstraction, where we’re trying to take away what things don’t have in common.
But there’s also the kind of abstraction where we build, we select, and then around the selections we create a structure. Let’s call that “constructive abstraction.” That means finding the things we want to work with and then building something that’s more than what’s there before.
So subtractive abstraction is what science is about. Constructive abstraction is what architecture and probably information architecture is about. Finding the constructs and the ideas that we want to make conspicuous and want to make a framework, a skeleton for what we’re going to show.
Is that partially an answer?
Dan: It is. And may I sneak in one more?
Dan: You spoke at the second TED conference. And Richard Saul Wurman is one of the people who we look to as a creator of the field of information architecture. Do you remember the second TED conference?
Ted: Rather well, yes.
Dan: I’m curious to know a quick reflection of what that was like for you.
Ted: Well, first of all, I do admire the work of Richard Saul Wurman. I have one of his books on Rome. It’s a wonderful guide book. As a designer, I admire it very much.
I thought that the experience of being at the TED conference was insufferable. He made us get up and march in. He played martial music at eight in the morning. Required us to march in. And about three hours of the day was simply listening to his rambling discussions of nothing in particular, between the talks. So that, shall we say, the elegance of his published designs did not always match what he presented on a certain thing.
Otherwise, it was interesting.
Ted: The contract said that no pictures or recording would be made. I crossed that out on the contract and videoed my own talk. He didn’t send me a copy of the contract, but in any case, if I can ever find the video I’ll put it up on the Web. But it’s, shall we say, keep in the file.
Dan: Please do. Thank you so much.
Audience Member: Hey, Ted. Loved the talk. Thank you very much. You inferred at the very end a really strong point around education and our role in teaching actually, I think, was the thing that you said. It resonated me with it in a way, and I’ve been asking myself this question. I’m wondering if you have a thought on it at all that you could share.
What do you see our role in teaching, and really more specifically, the industry or the space of education? As I look at education today as it’s trying to transform into this digital age, it seems to be struggling more so than most any other thing that I see trying to get into the digital space.
Do you have any thoughts that you could share on that?
Ted: Sure. First of all, when people talk about education, there are at least two possible meanings for the word.
One is the potential of being educated or creating an educational experience for people, a new, a fresh and imaginative.
The other, more common use of the word refers to the educational system as we now know it. Especially in the United States, where it has sunk to an appalling level. First of all, the problem is having a curriculum which is essentially a schedule at which things must be presented, according to which things must be presented, when in fact that gives you no chance to take any special interest in anything.
Then the perfunctory coverage of all the separate topics into which a subject has been broken down, their scheduled appearance essentially removes all interest. And the jokey things people try to do to make subjects interesting…numbers with faces and colors…just makes things worse.
But of course, the educational system has such a vast inertia and size that almost any change is hopeless.
I’ll stop there.
Audience Member: Thank you very much.
Christina: Hello. My name is Christina. I live in Palo Alto, just a little bit south of where you are. Actually, my mom was a Christian Scientist and my church is the Internet, so you’re in the most perfect place in my mind.
Ted: This was a Christian Science cathedral, in case the audience doesn’t know.
Christina: Yeah. Sorry. Inside joke.
You talked about three virtues—vividness, clarity and motivation. That was just so beautiful and poetic, but I was wondering if you could unpack them a little bit. What you mean by them and why they matter.
Christina: You’re stuck now.
Actually maybe literally. OK?
Ted: To me, the words are so punchy and expressive that I don’t know. What did you just hold up? I wasn’t watching?
Christina: Oh, here you go.
They are punchy. They are expressive.
Christina: Especially clarity.
Ted: Well, vividness suggests that it jumps out at you, as distinct from hiding. Clarity means that you get the idea. This is a very difficult business, because selecting the idea and helping people get it is very difficult.
Problem is also that some students are quicker than others. So what you would really like to be able to pack into a presentation, the essentials for the slower people and a little more for the others.
What was the third? Vividness, clarity and what?
Christina: Vividness, clarity and motivation.
Ted: Motivation. Yeah, well, ain’t that the issue? Because a motivated person is likely to do things on their own, whereas a non-motivated person has to be equipped along the path. So anything that can help people get motivated, but keep them on the right path.
This is very difficult, because offering them cookies or stars is not, I think, so powerful in the long run, as making their hearts beat fast and giving them something to visualize and imagine that excites them.
I remember in the second grade, coming home from school. A Mrs. Tilton has visited us and talked about ancient Egypt. It’s the first time I can remember having been thrilled by ideas. It’s happened many times since.
And being able to make ideas thrilling as distinct from hoping that somebody will find what is thrilling in an idea, because all ideas are intrinsically interesting. It’s just that showing that is very hard. If we can do that, it’s good.
Christina: Thank you.
Lauren: Hi, Ted!
Lauren: I’m Lauren. I’m from Michigan.
You spoke a little bit about the fragility of the Internet. I’ve been hearing a few people who I’m close with talking about peer to peer encrypted networks that would necessarily have smaller communities of users, but would be, perhaps, more stable.
I was wondering if you thought it was more important to have the stability of these smaller more controlled networks or to have reached more users.
Ted: I’m not sure I understand why a small community of encrypted people is more stable, because the fewer people in the community, the less stable it is, one would think.
There are so many issues here. The fragility I was talking about was physical fragility. There are pieces on the Internet about how to destroy the Internet with bombs. Where to plant them. It would really work. Where they go underwater at various points on the earth.
The issue intrinsic in what you said is also that of government spying, which we now know is on scales and from parties far vaster and more distributed than we understood. What we’re going to do about that heaven only knows.
So there’s the physical fragility. There’s the spying. There’s the swamping. Supposedly movies are taking up so much bandwidth, as is BitTorrent that small messages may have a harder and harder time getting through, especially if these movie providers get their way in being able to push the little guys aside with various laws they’re trying to foist. Hey, the politics is very much elbowing the technicalities out of the way.
On the other hand, of course, politics is a very big word, because it refers not just to what is happening in the officially political realm, but it refers to all collisions of agenda.
I would define “politics” as the resolution of agendas. We have that at every level. Agendas that are resolved by agreement and negotiation and cordially or by shooting the other guy. And everything in between.
So the political aspect which surrounds everything in the world is now surrounding everything on the Internet as well.
I have no answer, in other words.
Lauren: That’s OK. Thank you.
Moderator: Ted, I was hoping we could bring this to a close with one last question. This is my question for you. And then please feel free to segue into any closing remarks you would like to make.
My question is, are you optimistic or pessimistic about the futures of humanity and of the ecosystems in which we live?
Ted: I should answer with some Zen-like conundrum that admits of many interpretations.
Is the glass half empty or half full? I’m afraid it’s cracked and hasn’t got much time left. That’s what they say about me, and I hope to prove them wrong.