The Future of Text : A 2020 Vision


Growing out of our annual Symposium, we are putting together a book on the possible futures of text which has turned out to be the largest survey of the future of text ever undertaken, with a wide range of different perspectives and inspirations.


The book is intended to be a collection of dreams for how we want text to evolve as well as how we understand our current textual infrastructures, how we view the history of writing and much 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 five 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.


Publishing : Paper, Digital & Metal


In order to deliver on the short and  long term aims the book we will produce not only a printed and digital edition but also aim to produce an edition etched in metal, to make it as durable for the long haul as we possibly can.




All of the editions will feature future looking innovations including Visual-Meta to make information about the book readable by humans and machine. This will even enable the metal edition to easily become richly interactive again when scanned in the far future.


Open Glossary


The contributors are separately welcome to submit an optional glossary for their writing, of any length. The format will be determined as a group, to aid reading into the deep future and for people of very different perspectives today.




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.


Guidelines for Authors


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 2019 (anniversary of Doug Engelbart's demo) for a 2020 release.





Vint Cerf. Internet Co-Inventor & Pioneer





Listed alphabetically by first names, with an aim of totalling around 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. Ben Shneiderman. Professor, Author and Human Computer Interaction Pioneer, University of Maryland
  6. Bernard Vatant. Former Consultant at Mondeca and Linked Data Evangelist
  7. Bob Frankston. Developer of VisiCalc
  8. Bob Stein. The Institute for the Future of The Book and founder of Voyager
  9. Bruce Horn. Software Developer and Author of the original Macintosh Finder
  10. Cathy Marshall. Texas A&M University and Hypertext Developer
  11. Chris Messina. Hashtag inventor, product designer, technologist
  12. Christian Bök. Associate Professor, Charles Darwin University
  13. Christopher Gutteridge. University of Southampton and Developer of academic repositories
  14. Claus Atzenbeck. Hof University & General Co-Chair of the 2019 ACM Conference on Hypertext & Social Media
  15. Dan Whaley. Founder and Innovator in Web Annotations
  16. Dave De Roure. Professor of e-Research, Oxford e-Research Centre
  17. Dave King. Founder, Exaptive Inc.
  18. David Jablonowski. Artist
  19. David Millard. University of Southampton
  20. David Owen Norris. Head of Classical Performance, Professor of Music University of Southampton
  21. David Price. DebateGraph, Founder
  22. 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’
  23. Derek Beaulieu. Director, Literary Arts, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity
  24. Douglas Crockford. JSON
  25. Elaine Treharne. Stanford University Text Technologies
  26. Esther Dyson. Executive Founder, Way to Wellville
  27. George Landow. Professor and Author of books on Hypertext
  28. Gyuri Lajos TrailMarks Founder
  29. Harold Thimbleby. See Change Digital Health Fellow at Swansea University and Author of 'Press On'.
  30. Howard Oakley. Mac Developer and Technical Writer
  31. Irina Antonova. Partner, NakedMinds Lab, Russia
  32. Jack Park. TopicQuests Foundation, Co-founder
  33. James Gleick. Author of  the NYT best-seller ‘The Information’
  34. James O'Sullivan. Lecturer in Digital Arts & Humanities, University College Cork and Author of ‘Towards a Digital Poetics: Electronic Literature & Literary Games’
  35. Jane Yellowlees Douglas. Author of pioneering hypertext fiction
  36. Jason Morningstar. Analog Game Designer
  37. John Armstrong. Writer & Performance Artist
  38. John-Paul Davidson. Producer, Director & Author of ‘Planet Word’
  39. Jordan Abel. Nisga’a Author and Artist
  40. Jesse Grosjean. HogBaySoftware, Developer of ‘WriteRoom’
  41. Keith Houston. Author of ‘The Book’ and ‘Shady Characters’
  42. Keith Martin. London College of Communication Senior Lecturer and Author of design books
  43. Ken Perlin. Professor of Computer Science, New York University and Director, NYU Future Reality Lab
  44. Leigh Nash. Publisher at Invisible Publishing
  45. Livia Polanyi. Linguist
  46. Leslie Carr. University of Southampton, Professor of Web Science
  47. Lewis Dartnell. University of Westminster Research Scientist, Presenter and Author of ‘Origins’
  48. Lori Emerson. Associate Professor and Director of the Media Archaeology Lab, University of Colorado Boulder
  49. Marc-Antoine Parent. Developer of IdeaLoom
  50. Mark Anderson. University of Southampton, PhD Student
  51. Mark Bernstein. Eastgate Systems, Developer of hypertext software ‘Tinderbox’ and ‘Storyspace’
  52. Martin Tiefenthaler. Book and Graphic Designer, Teacher of Typography and Semiotics at ›die Graphische‹, Vienna/Austria; co-founder of tga (typographic society austria)
  53. Naomi S. Baron. American University, Author of 'Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World'
  54. Nick Montfort. Poet, Professor of digital media at MIT and Author of ‘The Future’
  55. Oliver Reichenstein. Developer of iA Writer
  56. Panda Mery. Productive irritant
  57. Paul Presley. Editor of Geographical Magazine
  58. Paul Smart. Author and Philosopher
  59. Peter Flynn. Principal Consultant at Silmaril Consultants and former Head of Research and Academic Computing Support at UCC
  60. Sarah Walton. Author and Digital Consultant
  61. Sarven Capadisli. Web technologist
  62. Shuo Yang. Interaction Designer at Google
  63. Stephen Lekson. Curator of Archaeology, Jubilado, University of Colorado Museum of Natural History
  64. Steve Newcomb. Consultant. “Hoping for efficiently compelling dialectics. Curious about expressing worldviews as semantic graphs”
  65. Ted Nelson. Visionary, Interactive Media Pioneer and coiner of the term 'hypertext'
  66. Teodora Petkova. Author of the Brave New Text. PhD student at Sofia University
  67. Tim Donaldson. Falmouth University, Typographer and Teacher
  68. Timur Schukin. Partner, NakedMinds Lab, Russia
  69. Tom Standage. The Economist Deputy Editor and Author of ‘Writing on the Wall’
  70. 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, and developing the Visible-Meta system, 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!