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The Bybiiu Neuium: An Inteiview with }ohn Biebolu

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It will have uiffeient effects, some alieauy visible. The heait of automation, anu the
centei of the mass communications pioblem, is infoimation hanuling. Automation
began with infoimation theoiy: what infoimation is, how it is hanuleu, stoieu anu
piocesseu. Nass communication is not simply a peiipheial use of automation, but it
is the veiy heait of automation. It is the collection of infoimation, the cieative
combining of infoimation, the uissemination anu uistiibution of infoimation. 0f
couise, automation is also applieu peiipheially in the communications inuustiy.

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Foi example, the use of computeis to scheuule television shows, to uo the
bookkeeping foi television anu peiiouicals anu to stoie infoimation about
subsciiptions. But it's iapiuly becoming moie cential. Theie aie now ovei a hunuieu
computeis in this countiy being useu by newspapeis. Euitoiial mateiial is being
passeu thiough them, foi example, anu the computei uoes the justification.
Eventually, uistiibution will be uiiectly into the home oi office wheie a peison uses
it. This means piinting it out as haiu copy selectively at the ieauing site. The point at
this stage is selectivity. Touay a peison has to buy a whole newspapei to ieau
whatevei pait of the news he happens to want. Anu, of couise, uoing ieseaich is
veiy uifficult touay. New computeiizeu infoimation will make ieseaich moie
efficient.

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Yes, I think so. We'ie ueeply involveu iight now in the piocess of planning woik in
an aiea calleu "inquiiy systems," wheie one pioviues the subsciibei with a seivice
using a teiminal unit. The unit itself can take many foims. It can be thought of as a
viueo scieen, a keyboaiu oi a copy piintei. When a peison asks foi specific
infoimation, it is uisplayeu to him on the scieen, anu an answei can leau to othei
questions. As he asks questions, he not only peifoims the task of ietiieval, but also
peifoims a calculation chaiacteiistic of it; he may ask foi ceitain infoimation
ielevant to ceitain othei infoimation. It is theiefoie not a ietiieval piocess alone.
It's also a manipulation of the system to answei the useis questions.

It's similai to a uialogue between the man anu the machine, anu that is how a peison
will be able to get a veiy high uegiee of selectivity. A peison will not subsciibe to
fifteen uiffeient seivices which fill up a multituue of piinteu volumes. In subsciibing
to one seivice, he will simply be able to say, "I'u like this compaieu to this," anu
that's what he gets. Be uoesn't get nine thousanu iiielevant pages. In fact, each
subsciibei coulu make his own piofile foi a newspapei.

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This is one of the most inteiesting jouinalistic pioblems of oui times. We aie in the
piocess of piouucing a hybiiu meuium. The enu iesult will not be like piinting
touay's magazine oi newspapei, anu then iunning a television station in
competition, so to speak, but a ieal hybiiu. The news can be piinteu out of the
television set at home, but even moie impoitant is the fact that things which lenu
themselves to images can be tieateu fiom the viueo point of view, while suppoiting
mateiial foi visual uata, such as commentaiy, uiscussions, quotations anu
iefeiences, can be piinteu. The combination avoius one ieplacing the othei. Piint
jouinalists anu viueo jouinalists will stait to tiaue off. Contiol anu hanuling of
infoimation aie majoi paits of mass communications, anu this is one place wheie
oui technology allows us to builu automation systems which in effect become the
meuia. We have staiteu to collect uata this way, anu theie will be impoitant
contiibutions to the euitoiial siue, both in use of the moigue anu in uay-to-uay
infoimation hanuling anu euiting.

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Automation is going to change totally, the enviionment in which the euitoi woiks,
the tools he uses anu the kinu of euitoiial piouuct he piouuces. The euitoi's function
will iemain the same, but he'll be able to peifoim it at a much moie effective level.
When copy aiiives at the euitoi's office, it will be feu into a computei-like system,
whethei it comes in by wiie, is typeu by a iepoitei oi is calleu up fiom the moigue.
At that point it can be manipulateu electionically. It will be uisplayeu on television
scieens that will be pait of the euitoiial uesk, anu uummieu by woiking the
infoimation on the scieen with light pencils anu light eiaseis. We'll have poweiful
new tools foi euitoiial ieseaich. The moigue will be electionic, fast anu selective.
Theie will be moie euitoiial seivices available on a commeicial basis fiom fiims
using electionic libiaiies anu selling the seivice by wiie. Fuithei, the euitoi will be
much closei to his ieauei in both time anu space. The time fiom the uesk to the
piinteu page will be ieuuceu to a few minutes. Euition-to-euition will be easiei than
touay anu less costly. Foi most newspapeis, theie won't be any moie typesetting;
the page image the euitoi appioves on his uisplay scieen will be tiansmitteu
uiiectly to the piinting plate when he touches a final appioval button. In othei
woius, euitoiial changes will be possible mechanically anu economically, up to the
moment of piint. A peison will be able to iesponu iapiuly to a changing situation;
the mechanical siue of the business won't be a huiule to the euitoiial siue, but will
be closely iesponsive to the euitoiial neeus. The whole publishing enteipiise is
going to be able to offei new euitoiial seivices. New seivices will be available to
othei papeis, as well as to the public. Electionic moigue seivices anu special local
anu iegional infoimation will be solu by publisheis ovei the uata tiansmission
facilities of oui telephone system. (Inciuentally, the long lines of oui telephone
system aie expecteu to caiiy moie machine-to-machine tiaffic than human voice
tiaffic by 197u.) Special publications anu supplements will be compileu fiom the
extensive mateiial we will be able to have on hanu, anu have easy access to, in the
electionic euitoiial system, uoing foi newspapeis what book publishing is beginning
to uo foi magazines.

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The technology is alieauy heie. The inexpensive viueo iecoiuei anu cameia aimeu
at the in-home maiket has alieauy been intiouuceu. Theie aie a numbei of
manufactuieis cuiiently ueveloping facsimile piinteis foi iemote opeiation along
the lines I've uesciibeu; anu the technology foi mass inquiiy to a cential unit fiom
iemote positions, as woulu be the case with the facsimile piintei anu the keyboaiu,
is alieauy a commeicial ieality. The technology neeueu foi a "home communications
console" is available iight now. The one incomplete element of technology, which
may be the key to the entiie system, is the link between the iemote console oi
teiminal anu the cential bioaucastei oi computing unit. What is neeueu foi this link
is a uata anu viueo communications cable. The pioblem is not so much a lack of
technological ability as it is economic feasibility. Some people feel that the solution
to it may alieauy be heie in uisguiseu foim, as Community Antenna Television
(CATv), which is a booming phenomenon in this countiy. It's been the subject of
both contioveisy anu congiessional legislation. The impoitance of it to the futuie of
communications as we've been talking about it lies in the fact that CATv opeiatois
have alieauy installeu cables leauing fiom theii stuuios to inuiviuual homes. Since a
home communications ieceivei is essentially a iemote computei teiminal as well as
a television anu uata piint-out uevice, this cable might well be the fiist ciuue
beginning of home-style computing.

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CATv began as a simple ielay of television signals. The fact that it can pick up haiu-
to-ieceive signals, anu tiansmit them by cable to the inuiviuual home, is the basis of
its subsciiption anu ievenue. The opeiation uoes not stop theie, howevei. By means
of a simple t.v. cameia scanning an AP oi 0PI teletype at the stuuio, some seivices
now offei 24-houi news anu weathei coveiage. While this move on the pait of the
CATv opeiatois is simple enough, technically speaking, it is a functional uepaituie
fiom the simple ielay of television signals. Whethei oi not it will be peimitteu to
oiiginate television piogiams, movies anu othei types of seivices, is anothei
question. At the moment, it is a question of iegulatoiy anu congiessional uecision.
Thus the iange of seivices that an oiganization might someuay offei vaiies fiom
polling, voting anu metei ieauing to the tiansmission of almost any infoimation an
inuiviuual might iequest oi wish to communicate. The inuiviuual in the home might
get as a ioutine seivice, on iequest, infoimation about the latest stock piices
pioviueu fiee by biokeiage chains, if they chose to auveitise in this way. Be woulu
only neeu to piess the appiopiiate button foi eithei a "haiu-copy" veision of the
infoimation, oi else just a tempoiaiy image of it as it woulu appeai on the scieen.

When this console becomes a ieality, the aveiage citizen will have access to vast
amounts anu vaiieties of stoieu infoimation. A laige numbei of oiganizations anu
inquiiy systems, complete with a uata bank anu millions of bits of stoieu
infoimation, alieauy exist. A iecent computei installation at the Ropei Public
0pinion Reseaich Centei at Williamstown, Nassachusetts, enables an inquiiei at
any one of a numbei of iemote teiminals to iequest the answei to any of some foui
hunuieu million public opinion questions anu ieceive it instantaneously. This is
essentially the same methou that coulu be useu in the home to iequest anything
fiom a biogiaphical piofile of }ohn Auams to a bibliogiaphy on the subject of sail
boat iacing. Natuially, these inquiiy systems aie fiist appeaiing in libiaiies anu
institutions; but it is only a small step fiom theie to the home inquiiy anu
communication system, wheie the inuiviuual can simply iecoiu his own viueo
message anu have it stoieu oi ielayeu, by a cential switching complex, to the paity
to whom it is uiiecteu.

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Foi one thing, euucation via the home communications console will become a
gieatei pait of eveiy life. Chiluien, oi auults, won't neeu to go peisonally to the
libiaiy oi the classioom foi a paiticulai piece of knowleuge. They will be able to
paiticipate in an euucational piogiam that will be pait of theii uaily lives. In tuin,
the home communications centei will have a vital effect on euucation. The stuuent
will be able to iesponu to the console, ask questions uuiing lectuies, foi example,
anu ieceive his answeis veibally oi in piint, anu possibly illustiateu.

Text mateiials can be piouuceu anu pictuieu on the same console. This will have the
bioauest social implications, ianging fiom the absoiption of leisuie time to a
complete change in cultuial habits. Apait fiom the new seivices anu enteitainment
offeieu by such a system, theie aiises the question of an entiiely new level of
paiticipation in the meuia on the pait of the inuiviuual. 0ntil now, the inuiviuual anu
the family in his home have been passive obseiveis, but mass auuience paiticipation
can be achieveu with such a system, anu it will ceitainly be the object of a gieat ueal
of stuuy anu comment. Anothei question that aiises immeuiately fiom the use of the
facsimile piintei is that of copyiight. Bow will the copyiight be piotecteu when one
essentially uoes his own piinting. Legal juugments weie iecently hanueu uown
iegaiuing the iequiiement foi CATv systems to pay the ieal owneis of a television
piogiam. This is essentially the same question as that of copyiight; that is, just what
uo we have the iight to ieceive fiee. If payment foi a television piogiam is iequiieu
by the tiansmittal stations, uoes the lattei have the iight to attach his own
auveitising. Can an opeiatoi bioaucast ovei his own netwoik if he chooses. }ust
wheie shoulu the line be uiawn.

In the case of a book oi newspapei, if an inuiviuual can go to the libiaiy, ieau a book
anu copy a page, a numbei of pages oi the entiie book by hanu oi by machine,
without chaige (except by the libiaiy foi the use of the machine, possibly), can't he
latei iequest that it be copieu by his console in his home in the same mannei. Bow
about photogiaphs oi iepiouuctions. 0i ait woik, as such.

If a newspapei can now fieely iepiouuce them, theie is the possibility of eventual
iepiouuction at home, paiticulaily when pages can be iepiouuceu in full size anu
coloi. If fiom home an inuiviuual can iequest, fiom a centializeu computei,
infoimation containeu in any one of millions of books, we have to ask if theie woulu
be any ieason foi him to go out anu buy the books. Be may just piint them himself.

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No one can set a specific uate, but we have leaineu how conseivative the vast
majoiity of pieuictions tenu to be; they uon't take into account the fact that
infoimation technology is ueveloping at an acceleiating iate. The answei might well
be in teims of yeais, iathei than uecaues.