random access

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random access
“Duty of an artist is to think about the future. As of today, predicting the future is very difficult. Herman Kahn, the most renowned futurologist, was wrong in two major areas. The findings of his study on the year 2000 were published owing to the help of very generous foundations. Yet, when the book appeared in 1967, it turned out that Kahn didn’t even mention about ecology or environmental pollution in the book. In 1967, the Hippies made a great case on ecology. Kahn, the most renowned futurologist, was not even at the same level as the hippies on the street. Then in 1971, the same M. Kahn published a study on the 1970s, and again not a word on the energy crisis. He still earns a living as a futurologist.

Thinking about the future means that we are making a series of forecasts one of which will be being lucky to witness the success of fusion. Of course, if we succeed, we will find ourselves like in 1962, with less expensive energy (the only problem being pollution). If we come to bear no fruit, the future will no longer exist. Solar energy is not enough for our way of living. Fusion is the only field where Americans and Russians are collaborating because nobody knows if it will work out or not. Deep down, by practicing fusion, we imitate God. Through video tape, we imitate only half of God by recording and preserving everything. We can rewind a video tape, but we cannot rewind our life. A recorder has “ fast-forward ”, “ rewind ”, “ start ” and “ stop ” buttons whereas our life has only one button : “ start ”. Today, we have Betamax, a medium defying God because it allows us to watch television film of 21h on public channel before the 19h news. The things never happen this way in life. If, at 25 years old, I would have known what my poor life as an artist in New York would be at 47, I would have planned it differently. There is no way to predict because life doesn’t have “ fast-forward ” or “ rewind ” buttons. Therefore we have to move forward step by step and when we make a mistake, try to correct it by another error. We hire professors and pa money because all like Betamax, they can go “ fast-forward ”.

Let’s come back to the notion of random access. Time-linked Information and direct access information differentiate themselves through the process of recovering. A “ book ” is the most ancient form of information via random access. The only reason why video is so boring and television is so bad is that their information is related with time. Humans still haven’t really understood to structure well time-linked information in recordings and in the recovery systems because all of this is new. No one will say Encyclopedia Britannica is boring even though it contains a lot of information : actually, we can look through any page there and any entry under A or B or C or M or X, whereas by watching a video or television, we have to follow the A, B, C, D, E, F, G order. The comparison is simple but the difference is enormous. This is why book is much more vivid and will continue to be until electronic information solves the problem of random access.”

– From “Random Access Information”, originally given as one of the lecture series