This is our 32nd issue, and it seems like a fine time for the first official TidBITS Survey. "Why the 32nd issue?" you ask. No reason whatsoever, we assure you, except that it's nice to know who out there reads TidBITS. It's not easy for us to tell what sort of people read TidBITS, how they read it, or even how popular TidBITS is. So here's the survey, and we ask you to please respond via email or snail mail. We'd especially like you to answer the first set of questions, and if possible, to answer the optional ones as well. Thanks!
Send completed surveys in any form you wish to any of these addresses:
America Online: Adam Engst
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0. We'll start with the easy ones. What is your name?
1. They're not getting much harder. In what town and country do you live?
2. Another easy one. Do you read TidBITS regularly?
3. From where do you download or otherwise acquire TidBITS?
3a. If download statistics are listed, approximately how many others download each issue of TidBITS from that source?
4. Do you redistribute TidBITS to other people or online services, such as your mother or a local BBS?
4a. If you do redistribute TidBITS, approximately how many people read each issue that you redistribute? Really?
5. Do you use TidBITS articles in user group or university (or other non-profit) publications? (You can, you know, as long as you credit us.)
6. Have you found the TidBITS Archive useful for looking up information?
(For the following questions, 1 is low, 10 is high, and only integers exist)
7. On a scale of 1 - 10, how knowledgeable are you as a Mac user, if a DOS user who has never seen a Mac is 0 on the scale?
8. On a scale of 1 - 10, how knowledgeable are you as a HyperCard user/author?
9. On a scale of 1 - 10, how often do you use the contact information to contact companies?
10. On a scale of 1 - 10, how often do you use the references to related articles?
11. Do you have HyperCard 2.0 yet? You'll want to get it soon, because TidBITS will require it some time in the future. Of course at that point the distribution format will be text, so you'll only need it for the archiving features.
12. What do you like best about TidBITS?
13. What do you like least about TidBITS?
14. What sort of articles would you like to see in TidBITS that are not currently present?
15. What would make TidBITS easier to acquire and read?
16. What other Macintosh publications (paper or electronic) do you read regularly?
17. Are you interested in writing special issues (like the Xanadu issue, #30) or product reviews for TidBITS? If so, please contact us via email for more information. We pay only in fame, since that's all we get.
18. What's your favorite color?
That's 20 questions including the sub-questions, so we'll stop now. Give yourself 1 point for each question answered. Scores of more than 11 win. Scores of less than 3 indicate that you probably won't return the survey, so answer a few more questions and then send it in. At most it's a few minutes and a stamp and we guarantee never to do telephone surveys (or to sell your name to mailing list brokers). Also, we will share the results (especially the statistical significance of question 18) in TidBITS. Thanks for the enthusiasm, it keeps us going.
[Editor's Note: Thanks to Terry Harpold for sending this for TidBITS. If you can make it to this session, we guarantee that it will be a stimulating hour and fifteen minutes. Most of you have read about Ted Nelson and Xanadu in our special issue, but Stuart Moulthrop and Jay Bolter may be less familiar. Stuart and Jay helped to make my degree in Hypertextual Fiction from Cornell University possible. Without Jay's Storyspace (more on Storyspace in a few weeks) and their combined support, I never would have completed my senior honors project. They are appropriate companions to Ted Nelson in that all three live and breathe hypertext, something that I wish were not so rare.]
A Special Session of the 1990 Convention of the Modern Languages Association: "Canonicity and Hypertextuality: The Politics of Hypertext"
Friday, 28 December 1990
1:45 PM - 3:00 PM
Grand Ballroom East, Hyatt Regency Hotel
Important note: Sessions of the MLA convention are generally open only to MLA members and their guests, though it is possible to register to attend only sessions on a given day. For more information on registration, contact:
MLA Convention Office
Modern Languages Association
10 Astor Place
New York, NY 10003-6981
DESCRIPTION OF SESSION -- One of the principal assumptions of the promoters of hypertext applications is that the freeform, non-linear organization of linked documents in a hypertext system alters not only the way in which the document is consumed, but also how it (and the information it contains) is perceived. Hypertextuality, they argue, is a different kind of textuality; the experience of navigating a docuverse (a open set of documents by one or multiple authors, all or some of which may be linked in any number of ways) is qualitatively different than the experience of moving within the relatively closed space of a conventional, linear text.
While the extent of these effects is still open to debate, there can be little doubt that the formal aspects of a hypertextual corpus offer unique challenges to the historical and institutional constitution of literary canons. Hypertextual literatures are fundamentally non-hierarchical, collaborative textual environments, in which traditional distinctions between authors and readers, or between more or less proficient readers, are subverted. In the most radical hypertext systems, these distinctions collapse completely.
This panel will address the political dimension of hypertext as a literary mode and institutional practice. Each of the papers will analyze from a different perspective the effects of the fundamentally non-hierarchical, non-linear structure of document relations in a hypertext environment for the description and dissemination of a literary canon in that environment. Hypertextuality has a fracturing effect on structures of canonicity. If, as is widely believed by theoreticians of hypertext, these technical innovations in the deployment of textual information mark an historical and epistemological break with earlier forms of literature, then the consequences for the future shaping of what we have known as the literary canon are of enormous significance.
DESCRIPTION OF PAPERS -- The papers for the panel will be structured as a linked series of exchanges. The panel will begin with Ted Nelson's introduction of Project Xanadu, the best-known and most sophisticated hypermedia system currently under development. This presentation will include a brief slide presentation of the system in action and a discussion of its methods and philosophy. The slide presentation will serve as a nodal point for the discussions that follow. After this introduction, Nelson will present his analysis of the political consequences of a non-linear, non-hierarchical literary corpus, and the new literature that is taking shape in the development of hypertext systems. Stuart Moulthrop will follow, applying and critiquing Nelson's analysis in relation to the institutional domains of the academy, and, in particular, to the contradictions that emerge within pedagogical applications of hypertext for a profession that is founded on hierarchical relationships of canonicity. Jay David Bolter's paper will follow, addressing Nelson's conclusions from an historical and epistemological perspective, in which the political dimension of hypertext-as-a-new-literary-form is considered with relation to the history and philosophy of literature in the West.
Though Nelson's presentation and analysis will to a large extent direct the shape of discussion in the panel, Moulthrop and Bolter will not be acting strictly as respondents. Our goal here is to weave the three presentations together so as to address the issues raised by Nelson from positions that, while in agreement with many of his conclusions, come to those conclusions by very different methods. The panelists will be working collaboratively on their presentations before the session, and are being encouraged to keep a large part of each presentation open for extemporaneous divagation.
Ted Nelson: "How Xanadu (Un)does the Canon"
Stuart Moulthrop: "(Un)doing the Canon (1): The Institutional Politics of Hypertext"
Jay David Bolter: "(Un)doing the Canon (2): Hypertext as Polis and Canon"
DESCRIPTION OF PANELISTS
TERENCE HARPOLD -- (Session leader), Comparative Literature, University of Pennsylvania
"The Grotesque Corpus: Hypertext as Carnival." (In a forthcoming special issue of Computers and Composition. Spring, 1991.)
"Hypertext and Hypermedia: A Selected Bibliography." The Hypertext/Hypermedia Handbook. Emily Berk and Joseph Devlin, eds. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991.
"Threnody: Psychoanalytic Digressions on the Subject of Hypertexts." Hypermedia and Literary Studies. Paul Delany and George Landow, eds. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991. 171-184.
TED NELSON -- Founding Designer, Project Xanadu; Distinguished Fellow, Autodesk, Inc.
Widely considered the foremost theoretician of electronic textuality, hypertext and hypermedia in the world. He is generally credited with having coined the terms "hypertext" and "hypermedia" in his writings on electronic textuality in the mid-1960s, and with being the first to advance the concept of a universal server for electronic document linkage.
Founding designer of Project Xanadu, the twenty-odd year-old hypermedia project that is the ancestor and paradigm of nearly every hypertext system since devised.
Computer Lib: You Can and Must Understand Computers. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 1987
Literary Machines. Swarthmore, PA: T.H. Nelson, 1981. Literary Machines. Vers. 87.1. Guide Envelope Document. Bellevue, WA: OWL International, Inc., 1987.
Innumerable articles and lectures on electronic textuality and hypertext.
STUART MOULTHROP -- Associate Professor of English, University of Texas, Austin.
"Hypertext and 'the Hyperreal'." Proceedings Hypertext '89. November 5-7, 1989, Chapel Hill, NC. New York: ACM, 1989. 259-267.
"In the Zones: Hypertext and the Politics of Interpretation." Writing on the Edge 1.1 (1989): 18-27.
"Making Nothing Happen: Hypermedia Fiction." The Hypertext/ Hypermedia Handbook. Emily Berk and Joseph Devlin, eds. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991.
"Reading from the Map: Metonymy and Metaphor in the Fiction of 'Forking Paths.'" Hypermedia and Literary Studies. Paul Delany and George Landow, eds. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991. 119-132.
Numerous publications on electronic gaming and interactive fiction.
JAY DAVID BOLTER -- Assistant Professor of Classics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Leader of the design and programming team for Storyspace, a hypermedia design and authoring system for the Apple Macintosh platform. Storyspace will be published by Eastgate Systems in December, 1990.
Turing's Man: Western Culture in the Computer Age. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984.
"The Idea of Literature in the Electronic Age." Topic: A Journal of the Liberal Arts 39 (1985): 23-34.
"Topographic Writing: Hypertext and the Electronic Writing Space." Hypermedia and Literary Studies. Paul Delany and George Landow, eds. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991. 105-118.
Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1990.
Graduate Group in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory
420 Williams Hall
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
America Online: THARPOLD
A Texas company called Cork Computer Corp. claims to have designed a computer requiring only the 128K ROMs from a Mac 512KE, Plus, or SE to give it a IIci's performance. The Cork System 30 has everything that IIci does, including onboard video driving most monitors on the market, a 25MHz 68030, 68882 coprocessor, three NuBus slots, and a SuperDrive. Cork says that its added a Motorola 56001 DSP chip, which provides CD-quality audio in and out as well as 9600 baud fax and modem capabilities (it may be v.everything [that's our term for modems that have v.22, v.22 bis, v.32, v.42, v.42 bis, MNP 1-5, and other abbreviations and codes after their names]). Cork claims the System 30 is completely compatible with current Mac software, because otherwise no one would buy it, which is extremely astute.
The trick to all of this is the ROMs. The 128K ROMs are pretty capable, but they lack Color QuickDraw, which didn't surface until the Mac II's 256K ROMs. Luckily for Cork, much of the 256K ROM code can be obtained from patches and INITs. Potential buyers will wish to keep in mind that the ROMs are optimized for the processor in the original machine - so a Cork System 30 might not be as fast as a true IIci. Still, at about $2300 for a base system, it's not a bad deal if it runs all or most Macintosh software.
You've never heard of Cork Computer Corp.? Not too surprising, but you may have heard of another firm, Texas MacStuf (formerly Texas MacExpress), a mail order firm formed to fund the years of work needed to develop the Cork System 30.
Apple Legal has apparently been informed of Cork's work on the System 30 and currently has no problems with it. Cork is cautious of the litigious nature of the industry though, and has retained the services of an international law firm with an excellent Intellectual Properties department. Everything Cork has done has been passed by the lawyers first, which accounts for Cork's confidence that its machine is legit. From talking to Cork, I gathered that it is designing and marketing its machine not to challenge Apple's dominance, but to broaden the Mac market. It knows that there are millions of Macs out there with the 128K ROMs, and if the Cork System 30 can turn those machines into powerful machines once again, it will be a victory for the abstract Macintosh as well as for Cork. Who loses? No one particularly, though a powerful Macintosh clone might steal some sales from the PC-clone makers.
Cork Computer Corp. -- 512/343-1301
9430 Research Blvd., Bldg. 2 Suite 250
Austin, TX 78759
Doug Davenport -- email@example.com
Cork Computer Corp. representative
PC WEEK -- 26-Nov-90, Vol. 7, #47, pg. 27
InfoWorld -- 12-Nov-90, Vol. 12, #46, pg. 8
Yes folks, the epic tale of confusion continues. We just saw a press release from Claris and there are not one, not two, but three different releases of HyperCard 2.0. Don't worry, though, the HyperCard program is exactly the same among the three. If you're anything like us or other people on Usenet, you want to know what comes with each package. This wasn't made clear in the Claris press release (where do they get these press writers, anyway?). First the brouhaha when they announced that there would be two versions of HyperCard and forgot to mention that they would be the same program, and now this). Luckily for all of us, Kevin Calhoun, the HyperCard project leader checked into it and clarified the matter.
Here's the deal as of Monday, 03-Dec-90 at 15:49. I'm not making any guesses as to what will change by tomorrow, but I'll have sent out this issue by then (yes, we work on a flexibly tight deadline). Package #1 of HyperCard is the one that everyone who buys a new Mac gets, which is the HyperCard 2.0 program, three stacks, and a wimp 35-page manual. This version is set to the Typing level of access, but that can be changed.
Package #2 of HyperCard is the $49 upgrade kit, which includes five disks, the same wimp 35-page manual, a 600-odd page HyperTalk guide. You're paying for that last manual and the telephone support, but it's probably a good reference book - the previous one for HyperCard 1.x was quite good. Claris says the upgrade kit won't ship until around Christmas.
Package #3, the Development Kit, includes Package #2 and as a special bonus it has three more manuals, "Getting Started With HyperCard," "The HyperCard Reference Guide," and "Beginners' Guide to Scripting." Supposedly, the upgrade is the differential between the complete HyperCard 1.x and the Development Kit, which is aimed at people who are interested in programming in HyperCard but have never done so before. Of course, the Development Kit costs $199 and won't be out until February of '91, so it's probably cheaper to order the upgrade and buy a third party book that teaches HyperCard programming for $30, saving yourself $125 or so in the process.
Claris -- 800/628-2100
Kevin Calhoun -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Bushnell -- HyperCard Product Specialist at Claris
(Yup, a slow week)
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