the future of text : a 2020 vision


Growing out of our annual Symposium, we are putting together a book on the myriads of perspectives on the possible futures of text–this is the widest and deepest survey of the future of text ever undertaken, with widely different perspectives and inspirations.


The book is intended to be a collection of dreams for how we want text to evolve, how we understand our current textual infrastructures, how we view the history of writing and more. The aim is to make it inspire a powerfully rich future of text in a multitude of ways today and to still have value in 500 hundred years and beyond. It should serve as a record for how we saw the medium of text and how it relates to our world, our problems and each other in 2020.


In order to deliver on this, the book will be published in printed and digital form, with future looking innovations in both media. We will also be using our blog, the blog, to experiment further on textual interactions on how we can improve our own dialogue for this work.


For further information, you may want to read the Author's Invitation and the Author's Guide, but the key info is: 1 page (around 500 words) with the deadline of the 9th of December.






Vint Cerf. Internet Co-Inventor & Pioneer





Listed alphabetically by first names, with an aim of totalling 100 people of brilliance from a wide range of perspectives:


  1. Adam Kampff. Neuroscientist at the Sainsbury-Wellcome Centre and founder of Voight-Kampff
  2. Amaranth Borsuk. Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington Bothell and Author of The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series ‘The Book’
  3. Andrew McLuhan. Director, The McLuhan Institute
  4. Belinda Barnet. Swinburne University, Author of ‘Memory Machines: The Evolution of Hypertext’
  5. Bernard Vatant. Former Consultant at Mondeca and Linked Data Evangelist
  6. Bob Frankston. Developer of VisiCalc
  7. Bob Stein. The Institute for the Future of The Book and founder of Voyager
  8. Bruce Horn. Software Developer and Author of the original Macintosh Finder
  9. Cathy Marshall. Texas A&M University and Hypertext Developer
  10. Christian Bök. Associate Professor, Charles Darwin University
  11. Christopher Gutteridge. University of Southampton and Developer of academic repositories
  12. Claus Atzenbeck. Institute of Information Systems at Hof University and General Co-Chair of the 2019 ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media
  13. Dan Whaley. Founder and Innovator in Web Annotations
  14. Dave De Roure. Professor of e-Research, Oxford e-Research Centre
  15. Dave King. Founder, Exaptive Inc.
  16. David Jablonowski. Artist
  17. David Price. DebateGraph, Founder
  18. Denise Schmandt-Besserat. Professor emerita of Art and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and Author of ‘How Writing Came About’
  19. Douglas Crockford. JSON
  20. Elaine Treharne. Stanford University Text Technologies
  21. George Landow. Professor and Author of books on Hypertext
  22. Gyuri Lajos TrailMarks Founder
  23. Harold Thimbleby. See Change Digital Health Fellow at Swansea University and Author of 'Press On'.
  24. Howard Oakley. Mac Developer and Technical Writer
  25. Jack Park. TopicQuests Foundation, Co-founder
  26. James Gleick. Author of  the NYT best-seller ‘The Information’
  27. James O'Sullivan. Lecturer in Digital Arts & Humanities, University College Cork and Author of ‘Towards a Digital Poetics: Electronic Literature & Literary Games’
  28. Jane Yellowlees Douglas. Author of pioneering hypertext fiction
  29. Jason Morningstar. Analog Game Designer
  30. John-Paul Davidson. Producer, Director & Author of ‘Planet Word’
  31. Jesse Grosjean. HogBaySoftware, Developer of ‘WriteRoom’
  32. Keith Houston. Author of ‘The Book’ and ‘Shady Characters’
  33. Keith Martin. London College of Communication Senior Lecturer and Author of design books
  34. Livia Polanyi. Linguist
  35. Leslie Carr. University of Southampton, Professor of Web Science
  36. Marc-Antoine Parent. Developer of IdeaLoom
  37. Mark Anderson. University of Southampton, PhD Student
  38. Mark Bernstein. Eastgate Systems, Developer of hypertext software ‘Tinderbox’ and ‘Storyspace’
  39. Naomi S. Baron. American University, Author of 'Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World'
  40. Panda Mery. Productive irritant
  41. Paul Presley. Editor of Geographical Magazine
  42. Paul Smart. Author and Philosopher
  43. Sarah Walton. Author and Digital Consultant
  44. Shuo Yang. Interaction Designer at Google
  45. Stephen Lekson. Curator of Archaeology, Jubilado, University of Colorado Museum of Natural History
  46. Ted Nelson. Visionary, Interactive Media Pioneer and coiner of theterm 'hypertext'
  47. Tim Donaldson. Falmouth University, Typographer and Teacher
  48. Tom Standage. The Economist Deputy Editor and Author of ‘Writing on the Wall’
  49. Dame Wendy Hall. University of Southampton



Post Script


Ismail Serageldin. Founder & Director Emeritus, Library of Alexandria


Curator & Editor


Frode Hegland. Developer of ‘Liquid | Author’ and host of the Future of Text Symposium


Frode is passionate about unleashing the potential of the future of text. To this end, he has held the annual Future of Text Symposium since 2011, many of which have been co-hosted by Vint Cerf. He has also designed and built two novel text-interaction systems, the macOS word processor Liquid | Author and the Liquid | Flow utility:


Frode is currently a PhD student at the University of Southampton where he is researching dynamic views in word processors for literature reviews, as blogged about on


His work is greatly influenced by Doug Engelbart whom he worked with at the turn of the millennium. Doug Engelbart sent him this email in 2003: “I honestly think that you are the first person I know that is expressing the kind of appreciation for the special role which IT can (no, will) play in reshaping the way we can symbolize basic concepts to elevate further the power that conditioned humans can derive from their genetic sensory, perceptual and cognitive capabilities.”





If you feel that you have something compelling to write on the future of text, please send a proposal. If you can think of someone else to add to the list, please send their names and also contact information if you have it. Thank you!