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The Future of Text {press release}


First ever collection of essays on the Future of Text launched

Available for free and with contributions from tech giants of the calibre of Vint Cerf, Ted Nelson and Dame Wendy Hall the book explores the pivotal role of text in our society, the outlook for hypertextuality and the challenges of archivability.

LONDON, 20th November 2020 – The Future of Text initiative, led by Doug Engelbart’s mentee and tech visionary Frode Hegland, launches today the most extensive collection of essays on everything ‘text’, from computational text through to poetry and digitized paper documents. “The Future of Text” book is available for free at along with Reader, an advanced PDF viewer developed specifically for this project. The book includes over 160 articles by contributors from academia, technology and the arts. 

Culminating today with an online launch event co-hosted by co-inventor of the Internet and book contributor Vint Cerf and editor Frode Hegland, the book is the product of a decade of debate started with the Future of Text Symposium in 2010. With contributions from hypertext inventor Ted Nelson,  inventor of Siri Adam Cheyer and Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton Dame Wendy Hall, the book explores the many facets of deep literacy, hypertextuality and archivability through short, often very personal contributions. 

Other notable contributors include: the founding Director of the Library of Alexandria Ismail Serageldin,  the father of mobile computing Alan Kay, the inventor of the hashtag Chris Messina, TED founder Richard Saul Wurman, the co-founder of WordPress Matt Mullenweg, Professor of e-Research at the University of Oxford David De Roure, Head of Research at the National Archive UK Pip Willcox, Deputy Editor of the Economist Tom Standage and Director of Planet Word John-Paul Davidson. A full list of articles and contributors is available at

Vint Cerf, internet pioneer and member of the Future of Text initiative commented: “Writing was invented about 5,000 years ago. The printing press was invented nearly 600 years ago. Digital technologies are less than 100 years old but will have a profound effect on the consumption and production of written content. This book unveils the astonishing possibilities that lie before us.” 

Alongside the book, the Future of Text initiative is also launching a powerful infrastructure for rich text called Visual-Meta and Augmented Text software tools ( Author, Reader and Liquid. Visual-Meta is a method of including metadata about a document and its contents visibly in the document. Information is presented in a human and machine readable appendix, on the same visual level as the content, rather than hidden in the datafile. The Future of Text book is the first published application of Visual-Meta and it is optimized to be experienced in Reader, a PDF viewer that has been substantially updated to provide increased interactions with the book, including Augmented Copy, Augmented Glossaries and Augmented Views.

Frode Hegland, editor of the Future of Text book, commented: “Our ability to represent a concept with abstract signs–and to then manipulate them–is something no other animal can do. It is the foundation for our knowledge and culture. The question is whether, in an age of instant-share and information overload, our investment in augmenting the written word is being honoured or squandered. The perspectives in this work illuminates a myriad of possibilities for a richer textual world. I believe that the way we interact with our textual knowledge is of fundamental importance and that is why both The Future of Text book and the macOS Reader are available for free.”


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For more information, interviews or to receive a printed copy of the book, please contact Valentina Moressa,,+447515264514

About the Future of Text Initiative

The ‘Future Text Initiative’ was started by Frode Hegland with the co-inventor of the Internet, Vint Cerf, the founding Director of the Library of Alexandria, Ismail Serageldin, professor of e-Research at the University of Oxford, David De Roure and Head of Research at The National Archives, Pip Willcox, to stimulate community dialogue and implementation of forward looking text interactions to augment how we think, learn and communicate by enabling and fostering a deeper literacy. For more information please visit 

About Visual-Meta and Augmented Text

Invented by Frode Hegland in order to enable a more liquid information environment, without changing document formats or workflows, Visual-Meta is a method of including metadata about a document and its contents visibly in the document. It is not a new standard (it is basically BibTeX taking on new work, supported by JSON) and it builds seamlessly on legacy PDF format without disruption by simply adding plain text metadata in an appendix. It is also quick and easy to add to existing documents. Visual-Meta is entirely open for any developer or end user to take advantage of. For more information please visit

The first implementation of Visual-Meta in a published book is in ‘The Future of Text’. 

Today we are also releasing substantial upgrades to our Augmented Text software for MacOS focused on advanced interactions with text and thoughts to write, cite and author documents. The suite includes three top-rated applications: Author, a word processor, Reader, a PDF viewer and Liquid, a text interaction tool, all fully integrated with Visual-Meta.

For more information please visit 

About Frode Alexander Hegland

Frode Hegland runs The Liquid Information Company, an independent software development company where he is developing Author, Reader and Liquid- all primarily aimed at academic users. In addition to editing and publishing The Future of Text book, he also hosts the annual Future of Text Symposium in support of his passion for interactive text. He takes much of his inspiration from his friend and mentor Douglas Engelbart.