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Student Competition 2021



You are invited to join us in competition to be a part of the Second Volume of ‘The Future of Text‘.

Contributors to the first volume include the inventors of hypertext, Siri, the hashtag, LaTeX, JSON, Wikis, WordPress as well as academics from leading universities and more, plus authors, poets, historians, scientists and thinkers in diverse fields.

Write an article on your perspective of the future of text, submit it to us and you could end up featured alongside some of the most brilliant minds of our generation.

Submission Format

The competition is open to all students of all levels, in any location, after all, you are the future.

The question we ask: What do YOU feel the future of text will be or can be?

We are not looking for research or journalistic perspectives, we are looking for personal passions, whether it be for text on screens or text on paper, whether it be for typefaces, hypertext linking, libraries, neuroscience, books or social media–whatever you feel is important to write about and think about.

You may submit only one entry and your entry must have a title which clearly presents the article (not just ‘The Future of Text’). Email your 1,000 words or less contribution to following the criteria as described here. Please note that submissions will get rejected if they don’t fulfil the listed criteria.


The prize is to be featured in the published The Future of Text book. The winner will also receive an iPad Air and a 30 min online chat with the co-inventor of the Internet, Vint Cerf. The winner of the first competition was Niko Grupen.


Final manuscripts must be submitted by the 6th of September 2021.

macOS Author

If you are a Mac user, you are invited to use the software we are developing alongside the Future of Text: Author, developed by our Augmented Text Company.

The software is free to download but has an option to unlock Export. However, the first 100 students who submit a clear proposal of what they intend to submit, will receive a ‘Promo Code’ to unlock the In-App Purchase of the software for free.

The reason you should consider using Author to write your submission is for the deeper engagement with possible futures of text and you will further help our work by giving us valuable feedback for how we can develop the software further to support your work. This is also a chance for you to communicate directly with the developers of professional writing tools:

We feel that Future of Text needs to be engaged with in dialog and action. The software is how we are taking action and the more dialog we get around it the better.

Judging Criteria

Judging criteria will be on the originality of vision and clarity of presentation, either as a philosophical piece, artistic or technical. Above all, we are looking for a thoughtful piece.

Please remember that this is about analog or digital text in written form composed of words (logographic, syllabaric, or in segmental scripts), not in the looser sense of anything which can be ‘read’. Since it is surprisingly difficult to define text in this context we will give you quite a bit of leeway to let your imagination run free, but we are not looking at pictures, video or sound, we are concerned with visual marks which have symbolic meaning and can be combined in a grammatical order.

The judging panel will be led by the Editor of the book, Frode Hegland.


You will retain the copyright, but you agree we (as represented by Editor Frode Hegland) can use your article in all versions of the book in any form of media.

Runners Up

At the discretion of the judging panel, the best runner up contributions will be linked to from the official web page.


A major step in the story of our evolution was when we gained the ability to point out to each other what we could see. A further major step was when we gained the ability to point out what could not be seen and to interact with what could not be touched, through language and symbols.

As we stepped into the digital age our ability to point and interact rapidly increased by letting us point to documents for near-instant access from anywhere on the globe. We could interact with images to produce photograph-realistic portrayals of impossible scenes fed by our fertile imaginations for passive movie entertainment or active computer-game first person shooter experiences.

The promise of vastly increasing our ability to interact with what had through millennia given us mental powers to see further and understand deeper–our symbols in the form of text–received very little augmentation beyond spell check, copy and paste and the ability to link to documents.

Though digital text can be produced and transmitted at great speed, digital text is in most ways flat–disconnected with the contexts which created it and un-graspable by the receiver to manipulate it.

If we do not vastly improve our capacity to point to and interact with our digital information, we will decrease our reach and narrow our opportunities in ways which will continue to have drastic impacts on how we deal with our information, our world–and each other.


In 2021 we are only half-way through our sun’s lifecycle, living on a planet roughly a third as old as the universe itself, having developed into humans only 100-200,000 years ago as part of a direct lineage going back over 4 billion years.

This is an amazing time. 

Humans are not a sedentary species, we are the only species to explore even when we have resources to survive, owing perhaps to changes in our environment 135,000 years ago.

We are now entering a digital habitat, much like when we first stepped out of the oceans partly as amphibians who needed access to water and then later as dry-natives who only dipped in for food or fun. We are now stepping into what I like to call another liquid environment–an environment where the potential for rich and smooth interactions are immense. But instead of thawing the information previously stored on paper substrate, we have only broken it into chunks with the most tenuous connections, ice-cubes in a glass of water if I may be poetic about it.

We are clearly not at the pinnacle of what being human is, nor have we developed our last bit of technology.

However, it is very hard to see ourselves as part of a continuity which will hopefully stretch even further into the future. 

Most of the attention for how we can improve our communication and interactions center on technologies which mimic immediateness with our experiences, such as the amazing VR ability to look like you are somewhere where you are not, and layers on top of the world through AR.

Not much attention goes to the medium which took us out of what is visually present and allowed us to record and communicate ideas and thoughts beyond objects: Text.

We need to become better at being humans. Learning to use symbols and knowledge in new ways, across groups, across cultures, is a powerful, valuable, and very human goal. And it is also one that is obtainable, if we only begin to open our minds to full, complete use of computers to augment our most human of capabilities.

Douglas C. Engelbart

Note to Teachers

We would love for you to get involved. This is a long term project and we are therefore very interested in working with you on building awareness around the opportunities for the futures of text. Please email Frode Hegland for more information.

Help Us Spread the Word!

The invitation announcement in the size of a tweet:

Be part of ‘The Future of Text’: Write an article on your perspective of the future of text of around 1000 words and you could be featured alongside some of the most brilliant minds of our generation, get a hoard of signed books & meet Vint Cerf @vgcerf.

Or re-tweet our tweet:

Or maybe even re-tweet Stephen Fry’s tweet: