Ted Nelson’s Xanadu finally gets released after 50+ years (with Transclusion).


“In computer science, transclusion is the inclusion of a document or part of a document into another document by reference.

Rather than copying the included data and storing it in two places, a transclusion embodies modular design, by allowing it to be stored only once (and perhaps corrected and updated if the link type supported that) and viewed in different contexts.” [1]

“The term was coined by hypertext pioneer Ted Nelson in 1963.” [2]


“Project Xanadu, the original hypertext project, is often misunderstood as an attempt to create the World Wide Web.

It has always been much more ambitious, proposing an entire form of literature where links do not break as versions change; where documents may be closely compared side by side and closely annotated; where it is possible to see the origins of every quotation; and in which there is a valid copyright system– a literary, legal and business arrangement– for frictionless, non-negotiated quotation at any time and in any amount.  The Web trivialized this original Xanadu model, vastly but incorrectly simplifying these problems to a world of fragile ever-breaking one-way links, with no recognition of change or copyright, and no support for multiple versions or principled re-use.  Fonts and glitz, rather than content connective structure, prevail.” [3]


One of the initial links of transclusion surfaced on April 24, 2014 at an event honoring Ted Nelson. The conference was held at Chapman University. Presidential Chair in Information Studies at UCLA, Christine Borgman, was there. Virtual reality pioneer and Author of ‘You Are Not a Gadget’, Jaron Lanier, attended to share his respect for Ted. Steve Wozniak even showed up unexpectedly giving a passionate speech at the end.


When the final presentation was made, Ted Nelson walked up to the stage to thank his friends for this outpouring of appreciation. He then went on to talk about his life’s experiences. He believes that this place would be a much better world if he succeeded at what he intended to do from an earlier age.

“But I ain’t dead yet!” he says during his speech.

Guided by the inspiration from his 4 main heroes (Walt Disney, Leonardo Da Vinci, Frank Lloyd Wright & Buckminster Fuller), Ted Nelson went out to be independent, able to see what others could not, and creating designs others could not imagine.

To wind up his story, Ted Nelson stated that he was “dealt one of the best hands in history, and misplayed it to the hilt. [He] could have accomplished so much more. [He] was here 1st, and it’s all gone wrong. [He] believes this would be a very different world and better world if [he] had gotten leverage. The world has gone the wrong way.”

Despite all that, Ted has continued on his visions, pursuing the ideas of transclusion in a visible way.

“Oh, I almost forgot…One more thing.”

The link for transclusion can be found here. The browser-based Xanadu is working. Nicolas Levin developed it.


Article written by @industrychanger

List of notable attendees at the Interwingled Conference

Steve Wozniak – American inventor, electronics engineer, and computer programmer who co-founded Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) with Steve Jobs

Jaron Lanier – American writer, computer scientist, and composer of classical music. A pioneer in the field of virtual reality (a term he is credited with popularizing). Author of ‘You Are Not a Gadget’ and ‘Who owns the future?’

Wendy Hall – Professor of Computer Science and Dean of the Faculty of Physical Science and Engineering at the University of Southampton, UK; Former President of the Association for Computing Machinery; Multimedia and Hypermedia researcher.

Christine Borgman – Presidential Chair in Information Studies at UCLA; Author of Scholarship in the Digital Age.

Belinda Barnet – Lecturer in Media at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne; Author of Memory Machines: the Evolution of Hypertext.

Ian Hamilton – Writer. Editor. Photographer. Videographer. Technology reporter at the Orange County Register.

Morten Bay – Getting Ph.D. in Information Studies @ UCLA. Covers tech for politiken and recordere.dk.

Gary Chung – Co-Founder at Jamby


Additional Links:

Full list of speakers + videos of all the presentations can be found here – https://www.chapman.edu/events/intertwingled/

Ted Nelson’s Speech: http://ibc.chapman.edu/Mediasite/Play/83d7b9016e3a42ecaf112cc4620e719f1d

Working Xanadu Transclusion: http://xanadu.com/xanademos/MoeJusteOrigins.html

Project Xanadu Webpage: http://www.xanadu.com


About Matt Terndrup

I'm a virtual reality, wearables, and technology art journalist who focuses on emerging trends in the maker, hacker, and inventor cultures. I like to travel around from place to place researching what is being made.

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Kurz verlinkt: Ted Nelson’s Xanadu, Transklusion | Stummkonzert

  2. Pingback: Theoreti.ca » Blog Archive » Xanadu Released

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