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omni(present) media

Omni means universally available, ‘all encompassing’, and here I’m using this portmanteau word  to mean ALL MEDIA, AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE TO EVERYONE.

Another interesting aspect of the ZeitEYE research is that it is increasingly obvious that we are living in an integrated media-access environment, where we can quite soon expect almost instant access to whatever film, music, book, magazine, newspaper. photograph, game, database (etc) that you want. In other words we are entering an era of ubiquitous, omni-present media – access to the entire output of our culture from the last 25 thousand years. This is entirely new in the history of mankind. It is the imminent realisation of the visions of the early pioneers of informatics such as Paul Otlet (the Mundunaeum 1906-1936, Traite de Documentation 1934). This makes the British Library and Library of Congress look parochial. One of the first to realise the knowledge-storage and retrieval potential of networked computers was the American Brewster Kahle (WAIS– wide-area=information server 1991, Internet Archive 1996).

Jimmy Wales Wikipedia (2001) is another recent response to this realisation of the imminence of Omnimedia. Personalisation via personal content-management systems like itunes and iphoto is another; is another.

Access to the entirety of man’s culture creates unique opportunities and design-problems for educationalists – not least in providing guided-tours, introductions and surveys or maps of this vast territory, or ‘media-scape’.

Here we have the greatest knowledge resource ever invented – every film, every book, every journal, every TV programme, every Museum archive – do we just say to our kids ‘there it is, its up to you to make sense of it’? – or do we do what teachers have always done, that is to create reference points, canonical guides, easy-to-follow pathways, or what Vannevar Bush called ‘Associative Trails’ (Vannevar Bush: As We May Think, 1945) through this vast cornucopia?

ZeitEYE I guess could provide perhaps one kind of  model for these ‘omnimedia’ exploration tools.

Of course, Omnimedia is just one part of the equation – for also we have two other aspects of globally networked new media to consider:

interconnecting all the World’s experts, ultimately all the World’s people

interconnecting the processing power and memory of all the world’s computers (GRID computing, 1999, SETI Online 1999)

Richard Buckminster Fuller must have had something like this in mind in the 1960s when he was developing his World Game idea.

Buckminster Fuller: WorldGame (1964) - a recent web interpretation of the original idea.

“In the 1960’s Buckminster Fuller proposed a “great logistics game” and “world peace game” (later shortened to simply, the “World Game”) that was intended to be a tool that would facilitate a comprehensive, anticipatory, design science approach to the problems of the world. The use of “world” in the title obviously refers to Fuller’s global perspective and his contention that we now need a systems approach that deals with the world as a whole, and not a piece meal approach that tackles our problems in what he called a “local focus hocus pocus” manner. The entire world is now the relevant unit of analysis, not the city, state or nation. We are, in Fuller’s words, onboard Spaceship Earth, and the illogic of 200 nation state admirals all trying to steer the spaceship in different directions is made clear through the metaphor—as well in Fuller’s more caustic assessment of nation states as “blood clots” in the world’s global metabolism. The logic for the use of the word “game” in the title is even more instructive. It says a lot about Fuller’s approach to governance and social problem solving. Obviously intended as a very serious tool, Fuller choose to call his vision a “game” because he wanted it seen as something that was accessible to everyone, not just the elite few in the power structure who thought they were running the show. In this sense, it was one of Fuller’s more profoundly subversive visions.”

quote from the Buckminster Fuller Institute at

1964 Fuller: Geoscopes suspended over all the World major cities, spherical displays for the World Game

In 1964 Fuller proposed the construction of the Geoscope – a 200ft diameter transparent globe onto which could be mapped Spaceship Earth’s resources or events or populations by means of lights and computers.

Smaller versions of the Geoscope were built. They were aligned with the Earth’s axis to produce a kind of natural planetarium, whereby one could view the shifting constellations through the skin of the sphere such that the stars’ positions in respect of the Geoscope would correspond with their actual positions relative to the Earth itself.

“With Geoscopes locally available around the world, all children experiencing its true celestial-event orientations will feel themselves being rotated around from west to east by the Earth to be shaded from the Sun’s light by the rolling-around western horizon.”

(Richard Buckminster Fuller: Critical Path, p.173)

Fuller intended or expected the Geoscope to be universally used as the visual reference for all hourly news broadcasts everywhere around the Earth.

“Geoscope will spontaneously induce total Earth, total-humanity viewing significance in regard to all our individual daily experiences. It will spontaneously eliminate nationalistic cerebrating.”

(Critical Path, p.174)


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