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Considering the inspirational drivers behind new media (see below), the central ideas of our rapidly developing sector have emerged throughout the last century – becoming iterations of the new world-view and of the cybernetic-electronic-robotic-cyborgian zeitgeist of our time. Not the least of these utopian tropes is the idea of the world library (Otlet’s Mundunaeum of 1906), H G Wells World Brain of 1936 etc) – the idea that (soon) we will have instant access to all the world’s aggregated media – the books, music, film, television, papers, journals, magazines, photographs. paintings etc…anywhere we want, instantly in realtime. We are beginning to glimpse this kind of ‘omega-point’ of instantly available information now at the end of the first decade of this century. My videos and other collections are a product of this omega-point state, and indicate a future direction for my work – exploring the event-horizon of media – the instantaneity of all media here and now, and what tools we might need to optimise our experience of this wholly new phenomena.

Inspirational drivers of New Media:

HG Wells: The World Brain (1938) – all the world’s wisdom – books and human experts – making a world university…

Paul Otlet: the Mundanaeum (1910) – information design and vision of a ‘world-library’

Henri Bergson/Teilhard de Chardin/Vladimir Vernadsky: The Noosphere (1907-1955) – an evolution stage in man’s development the exteriorisation of knowledge into a pooled ‘knowledge shell’

Vannevar Bush: The Memex (1945) – the idea of a memory-extension machine that would enable us to store and retrieve data ‘as we may think’ – naturally, elliptically, fluently, allusively

Ted Nelson – the Xanadu Literary Machine (1960) – the electronic, hypertext linking of all the world’s literature (and media), and the idea of making this accessible to all

Nicholas Negroponte: The Architecture Machine (1970) – the prescient book on how computers and computer-graphics will change the world of the designer…

Alan Kay: the Dynabook (1968) – the idea of a $100 dollar portable computer using a GUI and programming language designed especially for schoolkids…

Richard Stallman, Eric Raymond et al: Open Source (1976) – the idea that software development can best be carried out by encouraging thousands of developers/users to collaborate, developing free software that belongs to everyone.

Jay Forrester: World Dynamics – the inventor of System Dynamics modelling and simulation (inspired the Club of Rome ‘Limits to Growth’ model of 1970 – that spurred the foundation of ecology and environmental pressure groups.

JCR Licklider: Man-Computer Symbiosis (1960), and The Intergalactic network (1963) – Licklider’s vision of man and machine collaboration and global computer networking that spurred the ARPANET/Internet project…

Richard Buckminster Fuller: The World-Game (1961) – Fuller’s plan to make the world work for everyone, playing-out various strategies for a better planet on giant-geodesic dome screens over all the world’s major cities…

Tim Berners Lee: The World-Wide Web (1991) – Berner’s Lee’s plan to manage millions of multi-media documents in a friendly, easily accessible hypertext network..

Vernor Vinge True Names (1981) Vinge imagining a possible future of the MUD – a multiple-User Domain invented only 3 years before by Richard Basrtle at Essex University.

William Gibson: Neuromancer (1983) – Gibsons influential vision of a direct-wired sensory and theatrical cyberspace…

John Brunner: The Shockwave Rider (1977) Brunner’s pre-cyberpunk vision of the networked future..

Kevin Kelly: Out of Control (1991) – Kelly’s update on cybernetics, with his central theme deveoping van Foerster’s ideas of self-organisation.

These core ideas (and others from Cedric Price, Roy Ascott, Jack Burnham, etc), emerging in the last century, have framed our aspirations for the future of media and its useful to see how these driving initiatives have evolved or devolved over the years, and where the indicators are for what happens next.

Because I’m convinced that Futurecasting – holistic technology/trend forecasting – (see Bob Cotton: Futurecasting Digital Media (2002) and Bob Cotton: The Digital Decade (Creative Review July 2003)) – is a valuable tool for innovation and design in the current highly dynamic, rapidly developing, massively networked, high-band, realtime, multimedia-matrix we live in.

Extrapolating current trends and developing technologies, aggregating the views of futurists and tech forecasters, checking the business annual-reviews, current developments at R&D and research centres and being aware of artists and experimentalists working in new media, locative and performance arts, mobile communications, robotics and cybernetics, games and video-arts (etc) means that a rule-of-thumb approximation of the likely near future of media can be factored into design solutions – as much as feasibly possible (due-deligence-wise)…


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