Who could have imagined ...

When I first imagined hypermedia novels back in 1971, I was already late to the party. The idea of hyperlinked documents already had a history that could be traced back to Vannevar Bush in 1946 and, from a more practical perspective, to typological identification texts like bird books and cross-referenced books like encyclopedias ("See also" is consistent with the concept of hypertext) whose history goes back into the nineteeth century. Indeed, hypermedia novels like the ones I imagined in 1971 became a paper-based publication reality in the early 1980's (my son Devin used to love "Choose your own Adventure Books") well before conventional hypermedia became a practical reality. By the time I was imagining hypermedia novels, Ted Nelson's dreams of Zanadu were nearly a decade old, the Eliza hyper-responsive pseudo-Rogerian therapist had been running for five years, Doug Englebart's initial practical demonstration of single system hypertext had already attained legendary status in the computer industry, and Murray Turoff was just rolling out the first practical computer conferencing system.

My small bit of imagination, back in 1971, doesn't measure up to any of those accomplishments, but as a freshman in college I hadn't heard about any of this seminal work yet. All I knew was that a teletype machine attached to a computer offered some powerful possibilities, and as I played early versions of moon lander, it was easy to imagine computer interactive stories that gave readers some level of interaction with the stories they were reading. I couldn't know then that I would eventually play a role (a small role, but a readily documented one) in the evolution of hypertext as we know it. My "vision", such as it was, would be more than realized in "Adventure" and the other text-based story games that are the forebears of today's interactive computer games and in movies like The Matrix that depict people caught inside computer games that they don't even know are being played. I didn't have anything to do with either. What I did do was build what is almost certainly the first tag-based hypermedia system. Details of that, and other contributions I've made to your personal computer desktop (I can almost guarantee that you use my software from time to time), can be found in my "Hypermedia Resume".

Life moves on, and I continue to think, write, imagine software, and create web sites. After twenty years of working in and around the computer industry, mostly on the staff of IBM's Research Division, I have returned full time to teaching and research. I am currently a Visiting Associate Professor in the Communication Studies Department of Oswego State University (SUNY Oswego), and I am, among other things, busily trying to identify where I will teach in Fall, 2003. I am currently teaching Interpersonal Communication, Communication Relationships and Communities, and Communication Ethics. In the spring I'll be teaching Organizational Communication and a new course, Mediated Interpersonal Communication. There are pointers on this page to a lot of the other work I'm doing, including papers, presentations, and book writing. I am currently writing a book entitled "Characteristics of Media: the message beneath" and am planning a second entitled "The Invention and Evolution of Media". These books are driven, at least in part, from observations made when I was writing my Ph.D. dissertation while at IBM. A hypermedia version of that dissertation is available from this site.

This home page kind of encapsulates a lot of what personal hypermedia is all about. Its a place to share a bit of my thinking with others, do a bit of advertizing, and retain pointers to the resources I use most often. It is a home page in the truest sense of the word, and includes both information about will help others understand me better and tools that help me to negotiate the web more effectively. Many people, encouraged by default browser settings, set their default page to a web portal at an ISP, Netscape, MicroSoft, or Yahoo. I point my browser at this page, and use it as a jumping off point to the other resources I use (see current bookmarks) or keep track of (see my SETI@Home stats). There is even a place where you can collaboratively contribute to the content of my web site (check out the pointer to Media Space Wiki). So browse, enjoy, and say hello. I'm glad you came to visit.

Davis Foulger