3.11.09

Nam June Paik Pt 3-Media Planning for the Postindustrial Society – The 21st Century is now only 26 years away»

We now are at a different point in history. The effort to bring black and white children together by means of school busing is going awry. Desegregation strategies have become questionable. But television power can help achieve integration and understanding, and it has the added advantage that it happens over the air, unhampered by our polluted and complicated earth. I wonder what would happen if two day care centers for pre-schoolers, one in a black neighborhood and the other in a white one, would be able to hear and see each other by means of a two-way cable television set-up, so that the children of the two different cultures could start to play with one another over the air waves, without having to cope with stressful bus trips and their negative side effects.
Is this escapism mere hypocrisy, or is it a kind of first aid meant to initiate a long-range cure for the race problem? In any event, the technology exists; it is only waiting to be pressed into service, and it would cost very much less than ferrying kids around by bus.
Video-telephones, fax machines, interactive two-way television (for shopping, bibliographies, opinion polls, health care, bio-communication, data transfer from office to office) and many other variations of this kind of technology are going to turn the television set into an «expanded-media» telephone system with thousands of novel uses, not only to serve our daily needs, but to enrich the quality of life itself.
This «mini- and midi-television» (to use Professor René Berger’s expression) will join ranks with many other forms of paperless information transfer, such as audio cassettes, telex, data pooling, continental satellites, micro-fiches, private microwaves and eventually, fiber optics on laser frequencies. All of them together will constitute a new kind of nuclear energy for information and the improvement of society. I would like to call it tentatively a «broadband communication network.» Setbacks suffered by local cable companies have considerably delayed the arrival of this new nuclear energy. A recent article in the New York Times said: «There never was any question that cable television would become an independent medium; the only question was always when? Optimists still cling to their prediction that it will happen in the 1980s; pessimists predict a longer take-off period, some don’t think it will happen before the 21st century.» (10 March 1974).
Even if we accept the most pessimistic forecast, the 21st century is now only 26 years away. The fact that the dilemma concerning VHF frequency stations and public educational television is a direct result of the faulty planning of 26 years ago demonstrates beyond all doubt that the BROADBAND COMMUNICATION REVOLUTION has to begin, and it must begin NOW. (...)

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