Common Ground - June 1994
It's sad in one way to see Star Trek The Next Generation jumping onto the big screen. I'll miss the strange
moments of inspiration that I got from it on a weekly basis. Of course we'll have reruns forever, but I'll
miss the fresh stuff. Yes, I know there'll be another series, but the first year is always awkward. It's like
moving and getting new friends. It takes a while to get comfortable with everything.
The talk about the show's retirement has started me thinking about how broadcast television has become a
universal medium in the U.S.. Almost any member of our society has access to a TV, and with that in
mind I think about other people who might be sharing an experience when I'm watching a program.
I'm thinking about universal mediums now because of the poking around that I've been doing on the
Multi-Media front. I've been trying to size up the potential audience, and one thing is immediately
obvious--anything that is designed for use on a computer will not be available to "everybody". And the
relative few who do own computers don't all have the same kind. As I still know people without VCRs or
answering machines--or even a desire to get one--how much hope do I have that if I hand someone a CD-
rom in one particular format they'll be running the same hardware as I do?
I'm used to distributing music or words on a very standard media like cassette, paper or floppy disk that
pretty much everybody can use in their own homes. I'm sort of disgusted with the several formats of CD-
roms on the market. CD-I, MAC, PC for example. Maybe it's like VHS/BETA all over again and
eventually there will be some sort of common ground, but it doesn't do the small time guy much good to
have several formats out there. It costs a lot to support multiple formats if you have to produce several
mostly identical products. Interestingly, a friend at work got junk mail from CyberSex and it seems that
they understand compatability problems. They market a "virtual reality sex simulator" that requires no
computer at all. For like $40.00 or so.
I wish I wasn't so spoiled by high resolution displays, 16 bit stereo sound, animations and so on. It would
sure be easier to find common ground on the lower levels of technology. I haven't gotten bored with the
straight text information I find on Compuserve or the Internet. I'm stimulated by the act of pulling
information out of my telephone line and the fun of doing a bit of digging and experimenting to get the
right stuff. I hope straight text will always have a place on CD-rom.
I downloaded a 41 page document on CompuServe in the Multi-Media forum. It covers most aspects of
the hardware and software requirements for making the little buggers work. It also lists costs for making
your own CD-roms and addresses and phone numbers of duplication houses. I would like to get every
interested party together briefly at the next meeting (if you're not completely whacked to silliness by the
Electronic Cafe) and set up a separate meeting for the CD-rom project. We need to talk about content. It
appears that there are several people who are thinking about what they could submit, and I expect that
once we get some of the bugs worked out, there will be more coming in. If we include video and audio
from the Synesthetics show, it might be fun to have voice overs and descriptions provided by the people
involved. It would give you a chance to explain the details of your setup to the world!
Gee, maybe we should be keeping a video or photographic record of the various projects being built for
BFF. Maybe we should be thinking about an interactive presentation that shows the stages of construction
from the drawing on the napkin to completion
I know we're not going to be outdoing Peter Gabriel here, but we might as well try.
Regarding the audio CD project, it seems at first glance that we can fill it up in short order. Don't be
afraid to submit something for it! If you need help - just let me know. I'm still figuring we can just split
the cost of mastering and duplicating, which should amount to relatively little, depending upon how many
people are involved. If enough people have material ready, we could master this this month. Let's talk!
If you want to submit something don't hesitate - please call me or see me at the next meeting - or on June
4th at my next show.
This will be the last performance in Seattle for some time for Eric Muhs of the Metal Men. I'm glad to get
one more chance to play with him. Also on the bill (at this writing) is Rob Angus, whose style of music
transports you to other planes. He is fascinating to watch and hear. Julius Brown will project his computer
based visuals which were seen at the Synesthetics show. I will be bringing in a bunch of my older
controllers, like the MIDItrees & Speaking Orbs, as well some new projects.