The "next big thing" in databases? and computers?

Via the Humanist listserv, I came across this site, about a Ted Nelson concept in database design called ZigZag. Nelson describes what these databases would look like (sort of) in this talk at a “wearable computer” conference; toward the end of that talk, he defines ZigZag as:

“ZigZag is software built entirely out of connections in an interesting space, which I call Quantum Hyperspace (though it may have some other mathematical name I don’t know about, since I stumbled upon it independently).  It’s best compared to beads on a string: every cell is like a bead with many holes, and you can put one string of any color (dimension) through each bead.”


“ZigZag takes place in a conceptual space which can be made visible as rows and columns, and mapped to human activities and interests in a rich and insightful way.  Thus it offers some very interesting interface possibilities.  I see it as a possible new basis for a new world of software, outside of today’s fads– with no icons, no “metaphors” (dead-end scraps of comparison like the “desktop” and “clipboard”), and best of all, no “applications”– separated, imprisoning, proprietary activity traps in which the commercial software vendors try to mire us.”

Kind of interesting, I guess, but whenever I think of Ted Nelson, I always think of this great article from a 1995 Wired magazine, Gary Wolf’s “The Curse of Xanadu.” Maybe one of the best articles I read in Wired when I used to subscribe to it, Wolf tells the “tragic” story of Nelson, a brillian guy we would today describe as having A.D.D. or something like that. Before you buy stock in ZigZag or even get too excited about it, read this.

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