I'm not sure exactly what it is about computers that makes otherwise sensible people want to become directors. Maybe the relatively low knowledge and expense threshold brings out those hidden Hollywood fantasies. That computers look a bit like televisions probably contributes to this idea. As a culture we have come to expect certain production values whenever we stare into a glass box.
A case in point:
I got an email asking me about how long it would take to burn 25 copies of 522 megabytes of digital photos. The person also wanted to know if I knew of any software that would let him turn the entire collection into a self-running slide show, with twenty seconds per image. Even given that the people getting the copies were on the field trip in question, most folks don't want to sit through hundreds of vacation pictures to see the few that apply to them. And then there was the eight hour runtime.
Another case in point:
Imagine, if you will, a painting by H.R.R. Geiger. (if you don't know his work, he designed the creature for "Alien") Now, use the painting as an image map, so that each rib in the skeletal figure is a link to elsewhere. (I'm not making this one up!) Now I know that there is something of a modern primitives movement, so a shamanistic/fetishistic navigational structure should not be a surprise. But what makes those sorts of fetishistic systems work in the real world is that there is a common language in the culture. So far, no one has come up with a really reliable visual language based on internal organs, twigs and fluid splatters. And I really don't think that "the third rib down on the left side" is going to become an interface standard anytime soon.
And therein lies the problem. The world is full of folks running around inventing new interfaces. Untold hours are wasted trying to navigate a web where special effects envy has resulted in an unusable hash. Look people, we aren't designing a computer game here. I enjoy the challenge of figuring out what to do next when I'm playing a game like Myst. I don't appreciate having to work out a logic puzzle in order to locate an email directory.
The sad part in this urge toward multi-media extravagance is how hopelessly uncreative so much of it is. I'm amazed at how many seemingly current sites seem to think a turning globe is a really cool special effect. Yes, it's the World-Wide Web, we got it already. I can only think of two reasons why a site would have a video-game interface. (unless it really is a video game) The first is that there is no useful content, so holding your attention is vital to selling you something, and the second is that the designer thinks you're an infant whose attention has to be held with colorful moving playthings. I for one, have little interest in a website put together by someone who thinks I'm too stupid to notice what I want isn't there, or so child-like that I will blindly follow whoever is shaking a rattle at me.
Dale Austin 2004
All images and text Copyright Dale Austin, 1962-2008