Magazine article Computers in Libraries

The Global Village and You: Give Something in Return

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

The Global Village and You: Give Something in Return

Article excerpt

Let me begin by saying that the people who will take on and master these new media will be alert, creative, and literate--but all these in new ways that I will attempt to define. First, here's where I've been.

I started my media "career" back in high school. By career, I mean that I went out to make a few films to impress my classmates at Archibishop Molloy High School in Queens, New York. Since, in high school, the mere act of doing a film--well or otherwise--is enough to hold the attention of one's peers, I become known as a filmmaker.


I even subscribed to Super 8 Filmmaker magazine and had a few ideas of mine published. The thing was, I was never interested in Hollywood, Francis Ford Coppola, or walking around with a megaphone shouting orders to a big crew. I liked doing it all--writing plots, casting friends, directing, editing with my hands, and promoting. When I read about the specialized world of Hollywood film professions, it did not excite me. What's more, my academic career was in science, not the arts. And my films showed that I was an experimenter, not a professional. I could never see taking a film and casting it in stone by distributing reprints. With Super 8, only one copy is made, so the "creator" can constantly revise, add, edit, and take old film and integrate it into something new. Each showing of the film is a unique presentation.

Where did Super 8 fall short as a medium! It did not scale properly. Because of its resolution and because one did not shoot a "negative," but a "positive" (that is, in Hollywood, they shoot a film that, when developed, is a negative from which they reprint many copies to be shown in theatres; with a positive film, like Super 8, the developed film is the film you project and in making a copy you look at resolution and color), Super 8 generally remained a medium rich in artistic control but short on reach. In addition, while the cost of the Super 8 equipment was relatively small, the actual price of a quality movie is mostly due to things beyond technology like salaries, costumes, locations, and sets. These costs are the same whether the format is Super 8 or IMAX.


Now, what do Super 8 filmmaking and multimedia computing with interactive networks have in common? In many ways, personal computing and making multimedia--at home, in your basement, or in small companies--resembles the Super 8 process with its small equipment, personal control, and the ability constantly to revise and see the results of one's work.

But now there is something different because the computer is not merely a "medium," but it has creative powers of its own and the ability to impose its own standards or constraints on the artistic process. Thus, the computer can create a level playing field for individual participants, a world where Microsoft and the Joe Blow Company can work with the same tools and produce equivalent works.


With Super 8, or film in general, or audio recording, or the typewriter, or painting, or pottery making--you name the media--the first stage is tabula rasa, the blank slate. With the computer, you enter a world, like the physical world, under which there is a set of laws that operate and in which, like the real world, you are given a set of resources. What one sees in the development of the interactive multimedia nets being created by the large corporations and utilities is a world in which the individual will have enormous opportunities to leverage herself.

The world that is being created for us is combining enormous reach--worldwide nets--with rich mines of content--the database companies and media licensers--and extraordinary tools--the knowledge-based and hypermedia technologies. Although many decry costs and access, the reality is that all these will be very available and at a very low cost.

This is almost true right now. Again, the tools that are available are no different from the ones the large organizations use. …

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