Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine / Volume 2, Number 3 / March 1, 1995 / Page 12


How Tools Came to Be

by Nancy Kaplan

Given my admittedly brief and incomplete account of the types of texts supported in an electronic world in the section of this essay called "Definitions," what can we conclude about the literacy practices that world can or will support? What is, or will be, the literacy of a new age, an age of electronic textuality?

According to Ted Nelson, who -- dreaming a long dream called hypertext" in the mid-1960s, politexts, hypertexts, and "other cultural formations" are deeply intertwingled. Mutually dependent, they provide the environment within which electronic literacies will form. That environment, a complex set of relations among tools, techniques, regimens, and human desires, is what we must now critically examine, attending especially to the role of the social, to the effects of human agency, in the formation of electronic environments and e-literacies.

To begin that exploration, I'd like to tell two stories: one about the history or origins of what we now call the Internet and the other about my introduction to what we now call word processing. These two events, coincidentally, took place at about the same time.

This page is part of the article, "E-literacies: Politexts, Hypertexts and Other Cultural Formations in the Late Age of Print."

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