Having coined terms like hypertext and hyperlinks, the ideas of computer pioneer Ted Nelson helped define the web as we know it today. At the core of his beliefs was the desire for computers to go beyond paper — if you think about it, a word processor isn’t much different than a typewriter. The way he saw it, computers should extend our capabilities.
But many of Ted’s ideas never came to fruition. One of those was transclusion, which was supposed to be part of Project Xanadu, his hypertext model founded in 1960.
When we interviewed Nelson for our Pioneers series, he described the concept this way: “Transclusion means that part of one thing is included in another and brought from the original. In the Xanadu method, the transcluded portion has a path back to the original that you can follow.” You can see the original mockup below, and a more recent prototype of what he had in mind here.
What if the exact same information could live and breathe in multiple places? For example, if your company’s process for requesting time off changes, you’d probably have to find all the pages that mention the policy and manually update each of them.