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Marc Canter's 1996 Song

Thursday, June 27, 1996 by Dave Winer.

Good evening! A rare occurrence. A nighttime DaveNet. Yeah. I think this is only the second time.

Tonight we have a guest speaker, Mr. Marc Canter, founder of Macromedia, a leading animation tools company based in San Francisco. He's been doing content for the last few years and is now launching a new venture to do multimedia venues.

So I'll turn the stage over to Marc, and add some comments of my own at the end.

The Multimedia Industry: RIP
 Permalink to The Multimedia Industry: RIP<br>

By Marc Canter, marc@mediaband.com

I think it can easily be said that the multimedia industry is dead. No longer do analysts predict the yearly growth of sales or title development. No longer do you find the starry eyed entrepreneurs pitching business ideas to hungry venture capitalists.

Needless to say all that action has moved onto the Internet. It stopped off at 3D and wireless handheld devices along the way, and I'm sure the action will find somewhere else to go after the Internet. Perhaps it'll be Agents or Interactive TV.

The point is that multimedia was never really an industry. It was a level of personal computing that included all media types, and which enabled developers to create true multimedia information.

Now we're at a new brink of technology. But we're once again talking about a new industry and era as if we didn't learn any lessons from the last set of promises. Multimedia was never a marketplace just like the Internet is not a marketplace.

New technology breakthoughs are added to the list of technology we have at out disposal and the agregate amount of cool stuff just goes up.

Do you remember back when all we had was amber or green text on a black background? When sound or video was the farthest thing from IBM and the business market's mindset?

Well that's sort of the way I feel about the Internet today. The bandwidth is so limited and access times so long that it's impossible to demonstrate the potential of hypermedia.

I can't tell you how many times we simulated the future with Director. I'd point at a blue underlined word, in some simulated newspaper of the future and I'd say "In the future you'll be able to click on a word and have it jump to a definition of what that word means." That was all back in 1988 and 1989.

Now seven years later we finally can click on a word and have your page switch to a definition of that word. But it's only hypertext. We're all still waiting for true hypermedia. I want to be able to click on a word and have it jump to the middle of Citizen Kane or read a column while listening to Aretha Franklin.

That's' where we're heading and I don't care if you call it the Internet, Interactive TV, cable modem or broadband distributed multimedia. The fact is that no one technology or trend is going to make up the future and in fact nothing's mutually exclusive.

We all still listen to radio and use a telephone. And I for one certainly still carry around a pen and paper for jotting down notes or ideas.

So why are we constantly jumping from one fad to the next, from one earth shattering trend and the next development platform?


Good question! The advance of technology, underneath the hype, *is* a continuum. A few years ago it was clear that at some point all desktop computers would be connected together thru a global network. But an explosion was needed to shake the industry out of low gear and start it barreling down the mountain as it is now.

A couple of years ago we were trying to figure out how to use ISDN bandwidth. Now its becoming commonplace. I understand that you want more, but I'm a text and database guy, not a pixels and audio bits guy, so I'm happier with lower bandwidth. But I understand what makes you tick and I understand why you're frustrated.

But, if there had been no Internet euphoria, Compuserve, AOL and possibly Microsoft would be leading the online business. There would be less opportunity for individual independent developers to make a contribution. We'd have to deal with the generation of twenty-somethings, not as entrepreneurs, but as middle-level managers inside huge corporate structures. Been there. Done that. And I didn't like it! (Neither did you.)

But I agree with you Marc. We should always be looking to break thru the bottlenecks. If the Internet has taught us anything, it's that just when things appear to be most stagnant, it's actually the best time to invest. The deeper the rut, the more explosive the growth will be.

In a couple of years, if you're following the pack, break away and take a chance. If something appears intuitively obvious to you, but everyone else doesn't get it, invest!

I've learned that lesson too many times!

Dave Winer

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."