Old media meets new on the Med

A trip to Cannes for a technological festival has convinced Steve Homer that the future could be an interesting place

Cannes is probably most famous for its film and television festivals. But last week it bore witness to what may well turn out to be their long- term replacement.

Writing about technology can become pretty boring. But once in a while, you get a glimpse of where we are heading. In Cannes last week I saw the future - and the good news is, it is not all bad.

Cannes was hosting the third International Publishing and New Media Market, or Milia. The surprise was that the clearest strategic thinking came from people steeped in old media. One of the most enlightening was Andreas Whittam Smith, founder and former editor of the Independent, who was exhibiting for the second time with his new CD-Rom company, Notting Hill.

"This is 21st-century stuff," Whittam Smith said. "We don't think of the cinema as 19th century because it started in 1895, we think of it as 20th century. We won't think of this medium as being 20th century, we will think of it as 21st century, even though it started in the Nineties."

Interesting changes are already taking place. As technology steams ahead, it is not just making things faster. It is allowing creativity to flourish.

Don't forget how the early days of cinema consisted of films of trains pulling into stations - and look where the movie industry ended up. So don't dismiss interactive fiction or online multi-user games as a dead- end. In 20 years' time, we will look back on the quaint technology we are using today. This is the Next Big Thing. "Computer technology lets the user climb through the screen like Alice in Through the Looking Glass and become truly involved in the story," said the screenwriter Michael Utvich in a wonderful interactive fiction conference.

But this is also a new business sector. It took decades for jobs such as key grip and assistant director to be sorted out in the film industry. In the new media market, structures are still being defined. What shows more than anything else is the absence of an auteur - the film director or the book author, the creative star of the project.

Speaker after speaker acknowledged the pivotal role of the author. But on the exhibition floor things were different. "Not one-tenth of 1 per cent of the CD-Roms [in the exhibition] have the name of an author on them," said Robert Winter, co-founder and president of Calliope Media whose company won the Milia d'Or top prize.

"Publishers have to make sure CD-Rom authors enhance their reputation by developing a work," agreed Fionnuala Duggan, media development director of McMillan General Books. If an author gained an exciting reputation, then future projects would benefit, she said.

The other big talking point was, is the future CD-Rom or online services? Put another way, with all human knowledge and entertainment available on the Internet or places such as CompuServe or the Microsoft Network, do we need CD-Roms at all? The consensus seemed to be that for the moment, at least, CD-Roms do have a life because it takes too long to download information using phone lines - even if they have high-speed ISDN.

One of the eeriest sessions was Microsoft's Virtual Chat environment. Users around the globe will be able to meet each other using "avatars" - characters representing the user in online worlds. These avatars will be able to gesture - wave, smile or frown - and so communicate emotion to each other. Users will be able to download images of themselves to use as their avatars.

Link Virtual Chat with artificial intelligence and you start wondering where this technology might lead. Imagine a questionnaire capable of assessing your personality in depth. Imagine using artificial intelligence to create an active avatar that would pretty accurately represent your responses in online worlds. You could have a virtual cocktail party with 20 avatars while at home in bed.

Milia also showed a range of excellently produced software, from a superb disk on the Holocaust to fine cooking titles, from great interactive music titles to mind-boggling games. There is some dross, but the overall standard in this amazingly young industry was impressive.

An expanded version of the interview with Andreas Whittam Smith will appear in a CD-Rom Network special in two weeks.

The Milia Web site is http:// www.reedmidem.milia.com/

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

    Law Costs

    Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

    Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

    £28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

    C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

    Day In a Page

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
    She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

    Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

    The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
    American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

    Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

    James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
    Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

    Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

    Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution