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Book Launch Opening Remarks

Editor Frode Alexander Hegland’s opening remarks:

Thank you for being here today

I’m so glad to see so many old friends here today, and so many new ones. Welcome.

Please visit – which you can also see in the chat – where you will find a link to the programme for today big and bold and blue, and where the download link for the book will go live after this introduction.

I know we are living pandemic times but don’t forget to mute when you are not talking AND to unmute when you are! I’d like to introduce you first of all to my co-host Valentina Moressa who will help run the show and answer any Zoom questions etc. Hi Valentina.

But first I’d like to hand over to my other co-host Vint Cerf, who will present a few opening remarks for today, much like he introduces the book. Vint.


Thank you Vint.

Not many people can ‘see’ text–it’s too ubiquitous and boring and “hey, we have undo and blue links, what more could we possibly want? – Look over here, AR, VR and AI is where the hip kids are at”, people say. Yes, these are also important media. Hacking away to evangelise the importance of developing our textual knowledge environments over the years has been frustrating since I think it’s pretty obvious how important it is. But generally business see it as too academic and academia see it as too product focused.

But then there is you. I am so grateful to be preaching to the choir on this today, and it’s a wonderful thing to be with so many other text-minded souls.

Let me just shout this from the rooftops though, since I am on this soapbox for a few mins: Why do we edit our documents? It’s because writing is not just storage of information and communication with other people, it is because editing is thinking with text. This matters. Text matters. Enormously.

And this is why I am glad that I am currently doing a PhD at WAIS at the University of Southampton. I am studying under the absolutely fantastic Dame Wendy Hall, Les Carr and Dave Millard whose only faults are that they cannot devote every hour of the day to me. They manage that miracle of teaching: to challenge me while also showing the potential of my work and ideas. Therefore, my first thanks go to you. You have provided a wonderful environment for thought, studying and dialog, giving me Chris Gutteridge, Mark Anderson and Paul Smart as colleagues and friends at arms.

I’d like to thank my friend and mentor Doug Engelbart who understood me and who encouraged me to pursue and focus on what he called ‘symbol manipulation’ from his perspective of augmentation, which is why I now call my work augmented text. Thanks Doug.

Next I’d like to thank Bruce Horn, who was one of the original pirates of Bandley 5, who wrote the Finder for the original Mac. Bruce took me and my ideas seriously before anyone and is still an active part of the idea-net.

Talking of nets, I have to thank Vint Cerf for not only framing the book with his foreword, but for framing all my work for decades with support to a degree which has been my body armour quite a few times when fortunes’ strings and arrows were little harsh. Meaning people simply didn’t think text interaction was important or interesting. Can you imagine?

I would also like to thank Sarah Walton for developing the philosophy of liquid information with me, Stephen Fry for providing moral support from upon high, lifting my spirits and pushing my work and Alan Kay who simply keeps saying: “Yes, you CAN do it”. What more could anyone hope to hear? Well, apart from the beautiful mind of Ted Nelson asking questions and provoking deeper and wider thought. Thank you Ted, I love you.

Jacob Hazelgrove who has been the actual constructor of my dream of building a word processor (Author) and reader application (Reader).
Roman Solodovnikov and his team who built Liquid in many versions over the years. Thank you both.
Without your efforts, this would all just have been words, which sounds ironic, but my work is about how we interact with text, not just the text itself, as I’ll demonstrate in my 3 min video later tonight. The Reader application has been updated to really provide a more augmented reading experience of The Future of Text book, in PDF form. Please also note that these are very fresh capabilities in these upgrades so I would greatly appreciate it if you’d try the software and give me any feedback. Oh yes, it’s macOS only, I should mention that.

I’d also like to thank Keith Martin for help with design in Adobe InDesign and Tim Donaldson for use of his ‘Shinglewoode’ font.

Vint provides the Introduction and Ismail Serageldin, the founder of the modern library of Alexandria and the man who calls me Abu-Edgar, closes the book with his Epilogue, thank you Ismail.

The book is a Future Text Initiative so I’d like to thank Vint and Ismail again, and also Pip Wilcox and Dave De Roure.

Most of all, I would like to thank the contributors, including the next generation, the students.

Those were the thanks. A word on the Goal

The goal of the book is to inspire dialogue on what text can be and action, coding and systems developments to make incredible new means through which we can interact with the knowledge text holds. With that in mind we are still working on printing the book onto metal and plastic for the very long haul and this is also a primary reason for the development of Visual-Meta, as which I will also tell you a little about later in my 3 min slot.
And this is the reason why all the student entries are included in the book, for generations to come, this is is what our future saw.

Maybe I should announce the winner of the student competition now?

Niko A. Grupen is the winner! Congratulations Niko!

I thank him and all the other students for their work in making this book more youthful and future oriented. Congratulations!


I will now make the download section of the site live so that you may all download the free edition of the book in PDF or EPUB and purchase the Kindle or Printed copy. One second… Please click on the link Valentina has put in the chat. The book is also live now on

So this evening is about celebrating this first edition but also to lay the groundwork for future editions.


We are scheduling 5 sessions where we will watch the three YouTube presentations of 3 mins each, and then go into breakout rooms to discuss them for 5 mins, with a view to collectively writing a ‘Letter to Future Contributors’.

We will then come back to this main room automatically, have a 1 min report from each group, and then we’ll go to the next session.

As I said, we’ll be doing 5 of these today, it’s quite a marathon but as usual we’ll be very hard core on the timing so it should not slip much, if at all.

We will close with a brief group discussion, depending on how much time we have on our ‘Letter to Future Contributors’.

Again go to for the programme, including a link to the google doc which you will use in these breakout sessions.

Any questions, are we good to go? Remember you can always type to Valentina in chat if you have any issues.

The playlist is available at the bottom of the Launch Programme page.

Frode Hegland hosting in his dining room. Picture by his wife Emily Hegland.


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