The MEMEX essay
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The MEMEX is a system that was first described in 1945 by Vannevar Bush that would be used by individuals to store all their information, including their communication records, their books and other important records. Today, the computer is able to perform all these functions through their complex storage capabilities. In fact, contemporary computers are surprisingly similar to what Vannevar described close to seventy years ago. Just as he had envisioned, computer storage can be consulted with astonishing speed and versatility.
Ideas about technology help in the understanding how the human body functions and how people behave. Wiener, for instance, believed that one could study human-machine relations based on the AA predictor. He thought that humans under stress tend to perform repetitively and therefore predictably. Therefore, according to Weiner, at least, machines and human have a predictable relationship that can be predicted from studying it.
Screens, interfaces and photographs bear great similarities, but they are not necessarily the same. While photographs give many pictorial details of life, screens provide a much fuller and exciting representation of real life. Take, for example the 1959 American exhibition in Moscow was outdone by the exhibition the next year, when the Eames injected some creativity into it and exhibited a multiscreen presentation of American life. Screens improve the visual experience and they give life to images that are presented in a different way. Interfaces are also a lot like screens, giving life to the images that they portray.
We often like to think of our minds as machines, probably because we know so little about the mind that the only way to explain it would be to liken it to machines. Though our minds are pretty different from machines, they share a lot in common, and this is made implicit in the interchangeable use of these in metaphors. For instance, Nicholas De Monchaux likens a city to the “nerve center in the body”.
The Eames design has a lot of similarities with the present. Their collection of photographs on a multiscreen with a theme is very much a forerunner of the present day documentaries. It bears much semblance to documentaries in that it presents a specific theme by presenting photographs of the theme and creating a coherent story. However, there are many differences between this early design and the present day designs, including the fact that there are today motion picture designs. Eames also differs significantly from other designs of the time, such as MEMEX, in that MEMEX encompassed pretty much everything, ranging from images to words and even experiences and feelings. Eames, on the other hand, only dealt with pictures and their storage.
Multimedia is different from paint because of its realistic representation of situations. Paintings do, indeed, portray life situations, but they leave a lot to the imagination. Multi-media, on the other hand, portray things as though it were in real life. Therefore, one can draw many conclusions from a single painting, but multimedia sources often answer almost all questions that could be asked.
Colomina says that there is so much visual information to process nowadays that it seems as though we are suffering from some sort of attention deficit disorder. On the other hand, Oetterman describes a panorama, a static view, as an attention-catching phenomenon.
Computers play an important role in politics. This is because of their ability to play multi-media images. Not only can politician use them for their own publicity, but they can also use them to gather information about other politicians. Through computers, politicians can gain a wider reach of citizens of a country. Computers also act as databases which hold information that can hold politicians accountable for their actions.