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The annual symposium has been running for over a decade and the results have been published in a series of books. The dialog continues with weekly Lab meetings.

Our theme for The Future of Text ’24 Symposium and for the fifth volume of the series of books is to develop richer views of what lies beyond our current understanding of the potential for text. The Symposium will be hosted by Washington State University at Vancouver, 23rd & 24th of November 2024.

The previous Symposium, co-hosted by Frode Hegland and Vint Cerf 2023, was held at The Groucho Club in London and online, extending to a more casual second day.

Presentations, with links to video recordings: Introduction by Frode Hegland, followed by presentations by David Millard & Mark Anderson, Nayanatara Prakash, Livia Polanyi, Vint Cerf, Gabo Beaumont with Eric Vicenti & Horacio Herrera, Leon Van Kammen, Fabien Benetou, Sam Brooker, Keiichi Matsuda, students from the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt under Prof. Dr. Alexander Mehler (Viki Library: Shaduan Babbili, Kevin Bönisch, Yannick Heinrich, Philipp Stephan & Giuseppe Abrami), (News in Time and Space: Julian Gagel, Timo Lüttig, Theresa Berg, Jasper Hustedt & Giuseppe Abrami), Bronnac Ferran and Frode Hegland. Introductions by participants are also online.


Previous Symposia 


Supported By

The University of Southampton • WAIS  • W3C • Google UK • Google US • Vint Cerf • The British Library • The Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation • Artchestra • LCC • Wikimedia • Nefertari • The William A & Elwanda Fenwick Foundation • Unapologetic  • ReImagine Science • Sam Hahn • The Liquid Information Company Ltd. • The Augmented Text Company • Starbucks UK • Continue Magazine • The Marshall McLuhan Center • The Institute for The Future • The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation • Washington State University



Tom Standage, Deputy Editor of The Economist: “At a time of rapid technological change, the Future of Text Symposium offers an invaluable high-level perspective on the original information technology, where it has come from, and where it is going.”

Timothy Donaldson, typographer and teacher: “The future of text is one of the most stimulating public disseminations of knowledge I have encountered, its pithy format and emphasis on discourse makes it an intellectual delight.”

Philip Ball, science writer: “The notion of what text is becoming and what it might become is of vital importance to the future of an information society, with implications ranging from questions of artistic expression to the meanings of democracy. Yet it’s remarkable and perhaps disturbing that so few people are examining the issues in a broad, multidisciplinary way. The Future of Text Symposium is an event which fills that gap in a manner both deep and rigorous, but also engaging.”

David Jablonowski, artist: “In the fine arts one talks with all respect about the ‘Avantgarde’ in the arts. This symposium is about the ‘Avantgarde’ of the entire human communication–no less than that. In about 10 years people will realise what they’ve missed.”

Ilona Regulski, Curator Egyptian Written Culture at The British Museum: “As an academic and museum professional studying the past, I usually perceive texts in a historical context. The approach to look at the future of text is innovative though necessary, and thereby refreshingly informative. The Future of Text Symposium is an inspiring event. The sheer variety of fields represented emphasise that the visible aspect of language; through text, is our most important means of communication and deserves more attention.”

Jane Yellowlees Douglas, PhD, Associate Professor of the University of Florida: “’The Future of Text’ should be called ‘How to Live in the New Now,’ since you’d be hard-pressed to find a wider range of expertise on how text morphed into the words that wrap around and inform our lives. In addition, you’ll learn how to live with and capitalise on the changing face and uses of text through dialogue with some of today’s top experts. If you don’t emerge with a different view of how to work with text, take your pulse: you might be dead.”

Bob Stein of Voyager Books, publisher of the original interactive books: “The Future of Text 2013 symposium in London was a brilliantly curated and organised event. The day’s videos could be the syllabus for a terrific course about the future of reading and writing.”

Chris Stringer, Author, from the Natural History Museum in London: “I thought the Future of Text symposia  in London were really stimulating events, where a diverse group of specialists engaged in free-ranging discussion between themselves but also in open dialogue with their audience.”

Dame Wendy Hall of the University of Southampton: “The innovation of interactive text is essential and the Future of Text Symposium is a vital part of this process.”

George Landow, Professor of English and Art History Emeritus, Brown University: “This was a delightful, informative well-run mini-conference with a particularly attractive and efficient format that investigated the past, present, and future of text.”

Ren Cahoon, founder and president of Reynolds Cahoon LLC: “It was an extraordinary event.”

Dino Karabeg of the University of Oslo: “Having been a presenter at the 2014 Future of Text Symposium at Google, London, I am glad to recommend in strongest terms this year’s Future of Text Symposium in the Bay Area. By organizing the Future of Text events, Frode Hegland is continuing, and broadening and deepening, the tradition initiated by Doug Engelbart, his late friend and patron. By bringing together speakers who have deep academic insights into the origins, history, nature… of textual communication, with software tool developers, Frode wants to make sure that the future of text keeps up with contemporary insights and needs, and with technological developments. Hand-picked international speakers help reach his goal, and make this event uniquely valuable.”

Robert  E.  Horn, Senior Researcher Human Science and Technology Advanced Research Institute (H-STAR) Stanford University: “What do words to best and what do visual elements (images, both representational and abstract, and diagrammatics, both quantitative and qualitative) do best when they are working together– integrally, intimately, synergistically?  That is a communication question for the 21st century.  That is a scientific ‘best practices of thinking question for the 21st century. That is an explosive and expressive question for the visual arts for the 21st century.  That is one of the big questions that The Future of Text has begun to explore.”

Adriano Ferrari: “It was both wonderful and arduous… worth it though for the learning and perspective it gave us.”

Vint Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet: “I have participated in the Future of Text events and find them thought-provoking and poignant reminders that text is how we communicate with the future.”



{Symposium Code of Conduct}