Posted:September 9, 2006

A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Semantic Web

Douglas Adams - HyperlandThe late Douglas Adams, of Doctor Who and A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame, produced an absolutely fascinating, prescient and entertaining TV program 16 years ago for BBC2 presaging the Internet. Called Hyperland (see also the IMDB write up), this self-labelled ‘fantasy documentary’ 50-min video from 1990 can now be seen in its entirety from Google video. Mind you, this was well in advance of the World Wide Web (remember the source for ‘www’?) and the browser, though both that name and hypertext are liberally sprinked thrughout the show.

The presentation, written by and starring Adams as the protoganist having a fantasy dream, features Tom, the semantic simulacrum (actually, Tom Baker from Doctor Who), who is the “obsequious, and fully customizable” personal software agent who introduces, anticipates and guides Adams through what in actuality is a semantic Web of interconnected information. Laptops (actually an early Apple), pointing devices, icons and avatars sprinkle this tour de force in an uncanny glimpse into the (now) future.

Sure, some details are gotten wrong and perhaps there is a bit too much emphasis (given today’s realities) on virtual reality, but the vision presented is exactly that promised by the semantic Web and an interconnected global digital library of information and multimedia. Wow! And entertaining and fun to boot!

This is definitely Must See TV!

I’d like to thank Buzzsort for first writing about the availability of this video. Apparently fans and aficiandos have been clamoring for some time to see this show again, which has only recently been posted. Indeed, the access to an archived video such as this is a great example of Hyperland coming to reality.

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A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Semantic Web

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The late Douglas Adams, of Doctor Who and A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame, produced an absolutely fascinating, prescient and entertaining TV program 16 years ago for BBC2 presaging the Internet. Called Hyperland (see also the IMDB write up), this self-labelled ‘fantasy documentary’ 50-min video from 1990 can now be seen in its entirety […]

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