the Future of Text


In an era of super-high resolution televisions with large numbers of high-quality shows available instantly and highly realistic and immersive computer games – both experiences made possible by high-powered digital devices – document discourse is still rooted in the analogue era of non-interactive vertical columns of black type on a white substrate.


At the most fundamental, a document, whether a book or an academic paper or a work of fiction, is a framed space of textual symbols connected through every sentence and every word to the wider space of text and meaning encoded in symbols in other documents. The tradition from our analogue roots is to focus on the frame, rather than the connective nature of the symbols. The question I ask for the future of text therefore, is: How can we powerfully augment the process of Authoring and Reading these symbols to support an ever deeper literacy?


Key to understanding and inventing the future is to engage in dialogue, which is why I host the annual Future of Text Symposium with Vint Cerf.


This year is the 50th anniversary of Doug Engelbart's Demo so we are hosting a symposium on the 9th of December in California. (further information will follow)


There will also be two small symposia in 2018 with the theme of ‘weaving a new web’ where the key topic will be relationships/links: protocols and visuals and which will be primarily in support of the work of the Doug@50 Project.


• Mid-September at the University of Southampton. (further information will follow)

• 8th of December in California, co-hosted by Vint Cerf. (further information will follow)



Frode Hegland


I invite you to read my Blog and to get in touch if this is interesting to you: The Future Text Initiative is a component of supporting Deep Literacy. My personal effort is to build the best Reading & Writing environments I can, starting with my macOS and iOS word processor Author, built in collaboration with Jacob Hazelgrove. I have also started the open development of more transparent Socratic Authorship document format to enable a wider ecosystem of developers' efforts to improve how we can interchange rich documents, with Christopher Gutteridge.