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April 15th, 2003, 01:32 PM
Pop quiz that I'm currently failing...

A guy stands at a terminal looking for something. Something to do with how language changes over time (or maybe that's just one of the obstacles to his search). The text is hyperlinked in such a way that if the eye rests on a word for a couple of seconds, the link is followed. In this case, the librarians have hyperlinked ALL the words, even ones like "of" and "and", to allow free association to really run wild. The guy stands at this terminal reading stuff for a few hours, he thinks, then comes out of it and is told it had been three weeks. What book is this from?

I THINK, though I'm not at all sure, that the guy might be Pham Nguyen from the Vernor Vinge books... but the scenario also sounds a bit Cordwainer Smith-ish to me. This was part of some really epic thing where people are searching for Old Earth or something... and I can't remember for sure what it's from! Argh! I was reminded of it when a friend showed me a site that really does hyperlink almost all the words... I suppose very (http://blather.newdream.net/v/very.html) is a good place to start if you're interested in seeing the result. It's kind of self-absorbed, but interesting IMHO.

April 18th, 2003, 01:57 PM
This book sounds really interesting. I'd like to know where it comes from now, too.

April 18th, 2003, 07:11 PM
I know! Me, too. All I can think of is The Subliminal Man, but that is a short story by an author I can't remember.

It's a neat scene though, so if you do figure out the book, please let us know.

Kamakhya Devi

April 20th, 2003, 02:03 PM
JG Ballard wrote the short story The Subliminal Man, but I don't think it's that.
If the scene was from a novel then Cordwainer Smith only wrote the one (Norstrilia) and I don't remember it being in that.
Although I've read some Vinge it was a while ago and again I don't remember that scene- but I've got a lousy memory anyway.
The problem of course, it's a common scenario- trying to discover where Earth is/was. Not in quite this way though with Hyperlinking.
lemming, I realise this hasn't been any help whatsoever but I didn't want you to think I was ignoring you.:)


April 20th, 2003, 06:26 PM
Thanks 42, I really had no fear that I was being ignored but it's nice to get the reassurance. :)

I looked for the scene this weekend but failed... so, I'll throw out the couple other things I think I remember and leave it up to fate. Either somebody gets it, or my memory comes out with it at some point, or I stumble across the story again in 20 years and say ohhhhh, it was THIS....

So here's what else I remember. They, the guy and his female companion, are doing some kind of research. While it is often considered enough to do research to "millenial depth", meaning just what's been done in the last 1000 years, the woman wants him to dig deeper. And... there's something about children's rhymes and language changing much faster than adult language, especially researchers' language, does. It features "ring around the rosies" rather heavily as an example of this phenomenon. One of the "earlier" versions goes Ring around the rosies / rocka pocka posies... which might be a nice clue. (And why I can remember that, but not the story, is beyond me! But that little rhyme is what made me think of Cordwainer Smith.) Anyway, thanks to everyone for trying, even if we don't get it. :cool: