Hypertext Publishing
and the Evolution of Knowledge

K. Eric Drexler


Media affect the evolution of knowledge in society. A suitable hypertext publishing medium can speed the evolution of knowledge by aiding the expression, transmission, and evaluation of ideas. If one aims, not to compete with the popular press, but to supplement journals and conferences, then the problems of hypertext publishing seem soluble in the near term. The direct benefits of using a hypertext publishing medium should bring emergent benefits, helping to form intellectual communities, to build consensus, and to extend the range and efficiency of intellectual effort. These benefits seem numerous, deep, and substantial, but are hard to quantify. Nonetheless, rough estimates of benefits suggest that development of an adequate hypertext publishing medium should be regarded as a goal of first-rank importance.

From Social Intelligence, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp.87-120 (1991), an edited version of a paper originally submitted to the Hypertext 87 conference.

Table of Contents

  Abstract     Evaluation  
  The evolution of knowledge     Some general objections  
  Media and knowledge     What it might be like  
  Functions and consequences     Quantifying its value  
  Needed inabilities     Economizing intellectual effort  
  Architectural sketch     Extending the discussable  
  Existing work     Getting there  
  Advantages and problems     Conclusion  
  Expression     Acknowledgments  
  Transmission     References  

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© Copyright 1987, K. Eric Drexler, all rights reserved.
Original web version prepared by Russell Whitaker.