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/

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

    £16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

    Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager

    £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Freight Forward Senior Operator

    £22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This logistics firm are looking...

    Day In a Page

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map