[vcf-midatlantic] Ted Nelson email archive now available

Christian Liendo cliendo at gmail.com
Thu Nov 4 12:35:39 UTC 2021

I don't know if this is a duplicate, I apologize if everyone already
knows about this.

Ted Nelson email archive now available


Stanford Libraries’ Department of Special Collections is excited to
announce that the email archive of Ted Nelson is now available to
researchers. Theodor Holm "Ted" Nelson is an information technology
pioneer and systems humanist who began his work in these areas in the
1960s. Nelson founded Project Xanadu, a global hypertext system
designed to permanently connect different types of documents. He also
coined the terms hypertext and hypermedia. The Ted Nelson email
archive contains 236,779 messages related to Nelson’s life and work
between 2001-2019, covering his more recent work.

Correspondence related to many of Ted Nelson’s projects can be found
in the collection, with emails and mailing lists discussing the
ongoing work on Project Xanadu and ZigZag. The collection also
contains correspondence with many other notable figures in the field
of computer science including Douglas Engelbart, Steve Wozniak, Harry
Mendell, and Laurie Spiegel, to name a few.

One common thread found throughout Ted Nelson’s work seems to be a
deep interest in how information is organized, related to other pieces
of information, and presented to people who need to make sense of it.
As an inventive thinker on matters related to information and
technology, it should come as no surprise that Nelson wouldn’t be
content to simply use his email account in the conventional way. His
email account served many functions beyond communication:  a note
keeper, a log of daily activities (or “drungs,” a portmanteau of
“daily” and “running” coined by Nelson), and a repository for
important reference documents (search for “refx” to find these).

Another interesting find in the collection are Nelson’s lists of
abbreviations, which he also sent to himself for safe keeping. As an
archivist, I often come across abbreviations when working with
collections that I am not familiar with, especially if they are
related to a very specific field or profession. However, none have
been as unique as the abbreviations that I found in this collection.
These are not the run of the mill abbreviations, rather they were
created by Nelson and are highly specific to his experiences and
activities. He would often include these abbreviations in his email
subject headings as a means of classification and for terms that he
wanted to be able to find easily in his email, he cleverly added an
“x” to the end to avoid false positives in his search results.

The Ted Nelson Email Archive is part of the larger Ted Nelson papers,
which contains extensive physical and digital material related to
Nelson’s life and work. A preview of the email collection is
accessible on the ePADD Discovery website, and the full text is
available in the Field Reading Room at Green Library.


More information about the vcf-midatlantic mailing list