Designing For Interactive Media

At the end of the Nineties I got involved in an exciting project, working forGeorge Soros ‘s Open Society Institute. The idea was to promote electronic publishing and the web in the countries that had been part of the Soviet sphere of influence. Of course, once we got started we found that the idea didn’t need that much promotion and that there were plenty of very competent people doing it already. But despite that I think that they welcomed the contact with people from the West and the slightly different perspective that we brought with us. I worked with people from Romania, Macedonia and Serbia and learnt a lot I’m still digesting. This piece was from the last event I attended in Lithuania – a text to accompany a lecture. I include it here, because one of the reasons I have been reluctant to set up my own web site was, because having been pontificating about the subject for years, I was sure that hubris was hovering and that my site would display at least some of the sins I had been attacking. I guess we’ll see whether that’s true.
Designing For Interactive Media

As We Might Learn

I wrote this for my friend Nick Routledge, who I met on the internet, when he asked me to write something for his World3 website back in the early days of the web – late 1995 to be more exact. For a while it attracted quite a lot of attention. Sadly, World3, moved around quite a lot each time changing its url, a number of links to the piece from other sites got broken and then finally it disappeared for a while. Fortunately, Nick’s friend Jon Van Oast rescued it a while back and little bit of internet history is now preserved on his site. Although in internet years its now quite old, I still think there are some interesting ideas in here and some of the things I suggest I’d still like to see.
Update 15 October 2009 Sadly Jon Van Oast’s site is down so I am now linking to Wayback Machine:
“As We Might Learn”

It Seems to be a Meme

This was a piece I wrote for Nick Routledge’s monumental, labyrinthine, hypertext “Space without a Goal”. It never got put up, because it coincided with “a change in direction” in Nick’s life when he largely abandoned his work with the web and hypertext. Fragments of the site are preserved on Jon Van Oast’s site When I dug this out of my files I was surprised to see how long ago I wrote it. If I hadn’t dated it (10 July 1996) I would have said it was more recent. Anyway, this was my first, slightly desperate, attempt to capture some of the ideas I had been thinking about purposive drift for some years before. I circulated it to a few people as well as Nick. John Chris Jones, one of the most perceptive writers on design, who I had long admired, claimed that getting a copy helped him get unstuck and complete writing his last book, “The Internet and Everyone” (You can reach an on-line version here). Some parts of it are included in his book. I also sent a copy to Pierre Levy, who has some interesting ideas on the web and consciousness. Nick had mention the idea of purposive drift to a friend of Pierre Levy’s – in his reply he thanked me and said his ” beautiful and smart” friend had been very touched. What he thought about it wasn’t clear!

Continue reading It Seems to be a Meme

Purposive Drift

I started writing this about a year ago as a way of wrestling with some ideas I had been thinking about for years. It was supposed to be something I could do fast and easy. In the event, the very act of writing it changed what I was thinking and after a fast burst of the Prologue and the opening chapter it became a much slower, more difficult process. So slow in fact it has almost ground to halt.
One of my motives for setting up this site is to provide me with an incentive to get Purposive Drift going again. It always was my intention to write this on-line. I liked the notion of engaging with an audience during the process of writing and allowing that process to influence my thinking and what I wrote. I want to make writing a more collaborative process – more of a conversation than a speech.
My friend, Ben Copsey, who has put this site together for me, built an earlier version of the site to do it, but my deep technophobia got in the way. Instead, as I wrote each chapter I emailed them to a small circle of friends and other people I knew. Some people have warmed to what I have done so far and want more. Others have been cooler about the presentation. So this is very much a work in progress. Five chapters have been done and you can read them here. There’s another seventeen to come, who knows quite when. It may depend on you…
000 Prologue: Valued Moments
001 Purposive Drift
002 The Myth of the Machine
003 Plans, Processes and Mindlessness
004 Chreods, Grotesques and other monsters
UPDATE 25 March 2007
For my most recent thinking you can download my manifesto, “Purposive Drift: making it up as we go along” from the ChangeThis site:
“Purposive Drift: making it up as we go along”

Richard Oliver

Richard was probably best known for the three books he co-wrote with Bob Cotton, “Understanding Hypermedia”, “The Cyberspace Lexicon” and “Understanding Hyper media 2.000”. He makes his living as a writer, researcher, consultant and visiting lecturer. He lives in Stroud Green, London, UK, with his wife, Mimi. He tries his best to live a life of Purposive Drift, which, as he says, “May not make you rich or famous, but certainly gives you an interesting and stimulating life.”
Dowload my manifesto, “Purposive Drift: making it up as we go along” here
Contact Richard:
roliver “at”
You can put in the @ yourself – trying to keep myself spam-free