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(1991 Drexler) Hypertext publishing and the evolution of knowledge

“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.”

Note: this is an edited version of a paper first submitted to the ACM Hypertext ’87 conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The subsequent rise of the World Wide Web (with its one-way links and jumble of bad standards) has thus far precluded the emergence of a medium of the sort described in this paper. It has providing a host of unanticipated services, yet lacks critical properties for aiding the evolution of knowledge. Establishing an adequate hypertext publishing medium remains a goal of first-rank importance.

With link to full text:

Drexler KE. (1991) “Hypertext publishing and the evolution of knowledge” Social Intelligence 1:87-120.