The unbelievable growth in the capacity of people to take pictures, make music or films and generally record life in this Century has created an enormous potential. This potential used to be in the hands of creative professionals exclusively 15-20 years ago but just like type setting and then desktop publishing, the democratising of the tools has led to proliferation – good and bad. The craft of multimedia is in danger of being lost like the craft of wooden boat building.
Apart from the obvious issue of where do we put these media objects, there are questions of how do we combine them to tell stories and will we be be able to do either in the future when standards change or technologies leave our current media behind.
Combining the media used to be called multi-media back in the day. Various frameworks for doing this have come and gone over the years – think Hypercard, Director and yes, even Powerpoint (& Keynote) although their use has been limited to bullet point aggregation by far too many people. I remember David Byrne (Talking Heads) showing the potential of Powerpoint as a media framework with some wild multimedia only to have this ignored by the crew who do decks. It even provoked the great Edward Tufte to write a book about it.
Then there was the web whose growth has gone unabated to the extent that this is now where the objects lie but not so much the stories in the same sense as multimedia in the past. At first it lacked the capacity in both speed terms and in the sophistication of the tools then, well then a lot of people thought that was about that could be done on the web – with the limitations. Since then though we have apps and more recently, iBooks.
Have we lost the capacity though to make these rich and engaging stories filled with interaction and wonder? I don’t think so but now the old pro’s who created great digital stories last Century can pass on the skills or craft to the young app makers and web developers and themselves get excited about what is possible in the combining of two eras.
Could be immensely exciting and huge fun. I’m in. It would be wrong to see the craft of multimedia lie in disrepair.