More comments from Ron Gustavson

... replying to a personnal mail.
From Thu Dec 18 21:45:55 1997
From: "Ron Gustavson" <>
To: "Bernard Lang" <>
Subject: Re: Multi-platform multimedia CD-ROM ... who makes ? How ?
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 15:44:50 -0500
Message-ID: <01bd0bf5$c90234e0$>

I think my motivation is to help populate libraries in the future. If every title/electronic reference is locked with some type of metering or access control or dongle, where will the information have-nots be left? I'm not encouraged by the trend of even the smallest publishers to try some type of locking software. Of course these small publishers/self-publishers are the ones who can least afford to give things away. But I still believe that producing accessible CD-ROM (ie: in ASCII or HTML, for instance) and marketing and selling via the Web is a good model--one which has the secondary effect of producing legacy materials that can enrich libraries and used book stores someday with useful rather than obsolete texts.

Obviously electronic commerce is commanding a lot of attention and development. For many costly databases and controlled-distribution information, metering and encryption are options. This controlled-access now extends into popular entertainment with the DVD and Divx approaches. As the movie distributors have pushed for absolute control over titles through content scrambling, regional codes, and Macrovision, these technologies have been developed and tweaked so that they basically do what they are supposed to do. What the studios haven't seen [and where they are terrifically short-sighted] is that these technologies exist in a free market. I predict future filmmakers and musicians will approach the same studios with already encrypted work that is only leased to the studios for a certain period and for certain services. IOW, they may be cutting their own throats with DVD.

[ Bernard Lang: ... You recommended mostly tools, but do you have references to companies using these tools for large scale production of things such as encyclopedias (I know of the American Heritage Dictionary, that runs on Unix, but I have no idea what technology they use).

I know the Encyclopedia Britannica was indexed into data files that appeared as HTML on-the-fly in a browser, using Verity's search engine. But most titles are still in a propietary format such as Director produces. (This may be one reason the market for multimedia CD-ROM has taken a huge hit, except for a few games.)

[ Bernard Lang: And do you know of CDROM being sold to a large public, that are produced with these tools.

I think that Microsoft's Site Builder CD-ROMs (plus the Internet Explorer 4 preview disc) are some of the most popular titles that were authored with MarketScape's WebCD. From the MarketScape web site you can see some of the other companies that have used WebCD.

While Microsoft takes a lot of flak for past business practices, they have been a major force in empowering the average user with HTML. Just the fact of making Internet Explorer free for redistribution (at a time when Netscape wanted ~$15 per title with a minimum of 10,000 titles) is evidence enough.

The Intel developer annual CD-ROM is another prominent HTML title.


Ron Gustavson <> <> NO-8-DO

With my thanks to the author for allowing me to post this - Bernard Lang