“Early adopters never switch”

Matt Webb is at the Hypertext’03 conference in Nottingham, and presents his rough notes here.

Amongst them are his seemingly hydra-compiled notes of “Uncle” Ted Nelson’s keynote. It seems to be about the problems of the dominant paradigms in personal computing and the web:


“broken promises of personal computing:

* easy record-keeping
* nothing lost
* simplify life
* easy programming

broken promises of hypertext:

* permanent availability
* deep connnections
* profuse link overlays
* frictionless reuse (with copyright management, transquotation)”

It’s also punctuated with gems like this:

“trying to fix html is like trying to graft arms and legs onto a hamburger. And that’s exactly what they’ve done”

Matt’s asides refer to the things that Nelson claims are failing us in current software, and how in actual fact people get by just fine. We have of course taught ourselves to get by just fine, “early adopters never switch” as Ted says, and subsequent generations of users haven’t even questioned the UI regimes we live within. How do you get to the next paradigm from within the tyrannical bounds of the one you’re operating in?

From the one before?

0 thoughts on ““Early adopters never switch””

  1. Early adopters never switch? That may be true but they also do upgrade quick too. OK, so fixing all the holes and Idiosyncracies of interweb 1.6.2 might be a losing battle but we can be calmed by the forthcoming version 2.

    Who was working on that by the way?

    Oh…

  2. Whenever anyone says “All X are Y” it’s time to scrap their works as quackery.

    Sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true. I’m an early adopter. I bought into CPM/M in 1980, DOS in 1981, C in 1982, Prolog in 1983 and then the list goes on and on, each time, I was only looking for that promised value, things like “ease of programming” and when I found something else that was more to my needs, I switched, no problem.

    I’m not the sort who only listens to one band, or drinks one soda brand, or has to have a hook-swish on my hat. I use what works, and so far? Nothing really works, but things are, I will admit, after 20 some years, getting passably useful-ish but no so much that I wouldn’t change tomorrow if someone were to, say, give me an OS that obsolesced the filename.

  3. Its worth noting that all the broken promises of hypertext were promises made by Mr. Nelson, and they were broken because his system was unworkable. Berners-Lee never made even one of the promises Nelson lists.

    He is bitter, because working systems are more revolutionary than non-working ones.

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