A Hitchhiker’s Guide to cyberspace
By bblfish on Oct 31, 2006
The late Douglas Adams, of Doctor Who and A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame, produced an absolutely fascinating, prescient and entertaining TV program 16 years ago for BBC2 presaging the Internet. Called Hyperland (see also the IMDB write up), this self-labelled ‘fantasy documentary’ 50-min video from 1990 can now be seen in its entirety from Google video. Mind you, this was well in advance of the World Wide Web (remember the source for ‘www’?) and the browser, though both that name and hypertext are liberally sprinkled throughout the show.Following Mike Bergman's advice I just watched this great video that starts with Douglas Adams dreaming he threw his TV away discovers he has entered some unspecified future time (2000 probably), where he is able to explore the history what we now call the web starting with Vanevar Bush, moving on the leading research in 1990 and ending with something very close to what we have have now and some of what we are still dreaming of. The read/write web, intelligent agents, cyberspace, hypertext, linking, the non linear research this permits, all these themes are explored in this short film.
Douglas Adams truly was a visionary. Things did not unfold quite the way he presents them, but that could be because on TV, a web page does not look quite as interesting as 3D space. When used, simple html web pages were found to be fascinating. And of course, had he predicted wikipedia, nobody would have believed him. :-) A real humanoid looking agent that can read your thoughts works so much better...