CD-ROMs: Electronic artists' books?
I  N  T  E  R  A  C  T  I  V  E    D  E  S  I  G  N    F  O  R  U  M 
Issue 7   |   January 2000  

"Those of us creating artworks distributed on CD-ROM increasingly find our choice of medium criticized as quaint, if not perverse."

–Jim Gasperini,
co-creator of the beautiful Scrutiny in the Great Round interactive CD-ROM.
[Read Jim's article]

[Read about Scrutiny]

[Where to buy CDs]



Whatever became of interactive CD-ROMs?
Just a few years ago in human years (eons ago in computer time), CD-ROMs were the hot new technology for interactive multimedia. In 1993 my Macintosh Centris 610, one of the first with a CD-ROM drive, came with a handful of sample disks that promised "a way-cool experience for the eyes and ears."

No doubt about it, publishing multimedia (sound, images, text, and video) on CD-ROM was the wave of the future.

Around this time The Voyager Company was the industry leader, producing a library of interactive CD-ROM titles on art, literature, history and entertainment. It seemed a pretty good bet that this was the direction publishing was headed, especially when heavy hitters like Compton's, Random House and Microsoft began publishing multimedia reference "books."

Now, less than ten years later, the hot new technology for interactive multimedia is the Internet. Publishing sound, images, text, and video on the Web is the wave of the future. It seems a pretty good bet that this is the direction publishing is heading, especially now that the Encyclopedia Britannica is online.

Haven't we been here before?

Old technology delivers a superior experience
Yet even if the Internet meets current predictions, there's still a lot to be said for the "old-fashioned" CD-ROM. You can pack a lot of images, audio and video into a multimedia project and it will play beautifully on almost any computer. No worries about bandwidth, browser versions, or plug-ins. Complex interactivity and fast response times
that are difficult or impossible on the Web are easy when running from CD. Incidentally, Encyclopedia Britannica is available on CD-ROM too.

Visually, your work can fill the screen. There's no clutter of browser windows to interfere with the experience. And sound--the emotional core of movies and much of our lives--can be seamlessly included. Again, no plug-ins, add-ons or annoying control panels to worry about.

Then, too, the CD and its packaging is an object, something tangible that we can hold and look at even when the computer is off. This is a quality that we as humans appreciate, and is one reason printed books are still popular.

More >  Electronic vs. print  > Favorite interactive CD-ROMs  > Where to buy


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