In computer science, “random access” is the logic that says all pieces of information should be accessible in roughly the same amount of time. Hard disks, computer memory, even the internet itself work in this way—nothing is closer at hand than anything else. This imparts a sense of arbitrariness to the digital systems that we use every day. Behind the scenes, however, engineering both small (the read head of a disk) and huge (fiber optic cables spanning the globe) re-organize physical space to make such a flattening of time possible.
At an old farm in the Estonian countryside, I lived offline but according to the principle of random access. I organized the movement of my daily life so that walking between any two sites of activity—eg, from the well to the kitchen, or from the bedroom to the toilet—took the same amount of time. I accomplished this by walking through a specific number of intermediate checkpoints along the way, as indicated by an analog wheel-chart for which I timed the routes in advance.