Ted Nelson and Zigzag

One of the great things about the Internet Archive is the sense of adventure. There are always creative ideas bouncing around. Many of them come to fruition and occasionally some fail. In the spirit of innovation the inimitable Ted Nelson just finished up a month long code sprint with some guest programmers to bring to life one of his visionary concepts, Zigzag.

About Zigzag (from Mr. Nelson’s Xanadu website):

“We believe the computer world can be simplified and unified. Today, ordinary people must deal with an appalling variety of programs and mechanisms to maintain their information. We have discovered a new simplification based on one simple concept: a new, liberated form of data that shows itself in wild new ways.

Conventional data structures– especially tables and arrays– are confined structures created from a rigid top-down specification that enforces regularity and rectangularity. But this structure (our trademark is ZigZag®) is created from individual relations, bottom-up; it can be irregular and unlimited. Its uses range from database and spreadsheet to unifying the internals of large-scale software.”

Click image to see the Zigzag presentation

At the end of the month, on November 24, Ted Nelson and Team Zigzag (Edward Betts, Ted Nelson, Marlene Mallicoat, Art Medlar, Andrew Pam, Jeffrey Ventrella) presented a working prototype of Zigzag. You can see the presentation at http://www.archive.org/details/zigzagpresentation (a hi-res version can be seen at here.)

Team Zigzag: Ted Nelson, Art Medlar, Jeffrey Ventrella, Edward Betts. (Marlene Mallicoat and Andrew Pam)

-Jeff Kaplan

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