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/

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
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

    Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

    £90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: We are currently looking for a Geog...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

    Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

    Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee