arely in life one may be fortunate to experience a breakthrough event in which a whole new vista of possibilities opens up. This has a strong feeling of just such an occurrence. For some years advances in digital technology have held promise of wondrous possibilities for video and publishing but somehow the reality seemed to remain just out of reach. Bit by bit however, the necessary elements appeared. For several years high quality image and sound has been the norm. Over the past couple of years full screen video playback capability arrived. CD-ROMs became cheap and universal. Global connectivity via the Internet also became widespread.
Recently the final necessary element arrived. Improvements in video compression codecs now make it possible to put 40 minutes or more of high quality video on a CD-ROM. The player and systems powerful enough to handle video were already in place with all PCs made in the last couple of years.
Strangely enough, in an industry where hype is the norm, there has been little excitement about this. It appears few have even recognized the possibilities. All focus has been on the Internet and the new codecs were developed with it in mind. As usual however, that promise remains just beyond the reality. Video and high quality multimedia require a high speed network. This isn't just a matter of connecting up users by cable or DSL. The whole net infrastructure has to be upgraded to handle a vastly increased data traffic. This isn't going to happen suddenly but will entail a process of organic growth over some years.
In the meantime high quality video and multimedia capability via CD-ROM are here now. A few months back I tried the latest codecs and was amazed. Then the possibilities began to dawn and I became really enthused.
Monkey see, monkey do
Problems and complaints regarding dive magazines has been a recurrent topic on the UW-Photo Internet discussion list. Just as I was rediscovering the vision and commitment of the magazines a series of posts on the list led to a discussion of starting an independent publication. At this point I floated the idea of a CD based publication. Immediate response from around the world supported the idea. Divers liked the concept and could see its merits even if the publishers couldn't.
Only the beginning