"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 3 November 1995. Updated every WEEKDAY.

A Wave of the Shockingly Bad


[Kilroy Wuz Here]

So you've spent the requisite 8

hours building your home page,

but of the 50 accesses you've

had so far, 48 have been from

your own machine. What you need,

you deduce, is a little sound

and fury: a spinning roll of

toilet paper, a jazzy .wav file

in the background; maybe you

could even make that cute little

Kilroy peeking over your

horizontal rule blow his nose!

One thing is sure: you'll never

make Net Surf unless you prove

your mettle as a true multimedia

auteur, and quick.


[Macromedia Director]

Well, if establishing yourself as

a credible interactive media

impressario ranks high on your

to-do list, consider yourself a

Preferred Customer - the

pre-season practice for the

great multimedia net conquest

has officially begun. And while

we'll probably have to wait

until early-to-mid '96 for the

real carnage, that's not

stopping the key players in the

software industry from ramping

up for an early start. Sadly,

the frontrunner of this trend

seems to be Macromedia, with its

Shockwave player.



The timing couldn't possibly be

more inopportune. Just as the

CD-ROM development herd is

writhing in its long-awaited

death throes, Macromedia has

rushed forward with a

life-support tech infusion -

Shockwave is a blast of morphine

that'll keep the abysmal

content-repurposing nightmare in

deep REM. If you had any doubts

about what the fate of over five

years of largely worthless

Director content would be, make

no mistake: it's coming to the

Web in its full Grandma Bear On

Quaaludes, Around-the-World in

80 Miserable Minutes,

Mix-Your-Own David Bowie

Digizine glory. The SOMA truism

may be that multimedia is a

solution in search of a problem,

but most of us are starting to

see it more as the problem




All the excitement generated at

last week's massively-attended

Macromedia International User

Conference can't mask the fact

that Shockwave is a poor method

to a poorer madness. Sure,

Director developers are bound to

see it as a minor miracle in

that repurposing their old crap

for the Web will just be a short

drag-and-drop away, but look at

the end result: a single


long-downloading, non-streaming

file. "But, hey, it's inline!"


[Don't be a Dupe!]

We never thought we'd be saying

this, but when it comes to

Shockwave authoring, the

barriers to entry are just too

low. By now, every goon with a

Mac has either ponied up the

$1K+ for Director or, more

likely, has scored a pirated

copy from an unscrupulous buddy.

It'd be nice to imagine that

this would bring authoring

ability to creative (but

programming-challenged) net

media upstarts, but that's the

longshot scenario. More likely,

it'll only take a few times

getting burned by mammoth

Shockwave downloads with dubious

payoffs to keep most websurfers

from venturing willingly into

.dir/.fgd territory.



Of course, it's not as if

Macromedia is lacking in

competition - Java can do just

about anything Shockwave can do,

faster and better, but, until

user-oriented production

software becomes available early

next year, the language will

remain a programmer's tool.

Microsoft's Blackbird is still

many months away from reality,

and even that may arrive months

(or years) sooner than the

sure-to-come plug-in from

Director-killer mTropolis,

Adobe's newest investment. Other

competitors, such as Kaleida,

which has made its developer's

release Kaleida Media Player

available for download, add to

the confusion, but less so than

the fact that there is major

overlap and strategic

compatibility between all of

these tools.



Blackbird, for example, is

extensible through any number of

OLE controls, and Microsoft is

hyping its capacity to display

inline Director presentations,

even while it pushes its own

MediaView, a competing

technology. And what are we to

make of this week's announcement

of a partnership between

Macromedia and Sun to jointly

develop Internet multimedia

authoring tools? Perhaps this is

another example of the nascent

Sun alliance strategy (where,

for the low, low price of about

$150K, you get to shake hands

with Scott McNealy and watch

your stock rise). According to

the press release, Java applets

will play back within Director,

but will Lingo be partially (or

totally) scrapped in favor of

Java or a Java-based scripting

language in the near future?

Must we care?


Unfortunately, we do care. Not

all moving pictures move, but, no

matter how you look upon the Web -

as a world-wide information

repository, a future consumerist

paradise, or a propagandist's

dream and citizen's nightmare -

the future of the medium is tied

to one of these proprietary

formats. While you're gambling

your content on one of them,

don't forget to archive your

source files - at least that's a

decent use for CD-ROM.


[Macromedia Director]

And let's have the last six years

of Director at least give us one

thing - a clue. If you've got

it, and you're gonna flaunt it,

you better make sure the users

want it.

courtesy of the Duke of URL and Strep Throat