Why Kludge?

We know that "multimedia" is a buzzword headed fast for the bargain bin.

We know that

And we know that if you took all the hype surrounding this stuff and burned it, you could satisfy the power needs of a major American metropolis for the next decade.

Okay: Today's multimedia is a kludge.

A stop-gap. A good-enough-for-now experiment. Sure, the folks who are betting on making megabucks repackaging old TV shows in pseudo-interactive new clothes are probably going to lose their shirts. Sure, we're still waiting for the CD-ROM title that we can show friends without apologizing, "Really, it's good, compared to what else is out there." Sure, a lot of consumers have already tossed their CD-ROM drives in the back of their closets, where, next to the eight-track tape player and the dot-matrix printer, they can rust in peace.

And yet...

There are a lot of very smart people scratching their heads to come up with cool new things to do with digital tools, with networks, with multimedia, and, yes, even with CD-ROMs. It may be a vast wasteland out there -- but it's also a big frontier dotted with villages and homesteads.

CD-ROMs are the means of delivery today because they're cheap to produce. (Lots of factories can crank out those aluminum-and-plastic disks for next to nothing.) Tomorrow it'll be something else.

But Myst and The Seventh Guest aren't "CD-ROMs" any more than, say, Exile on Main Street and Blonde on Blonde were merely hunks of vinyl. In the digital age, even more than before, the creative work exists independently from the physical means of delivery.

In the meantime, we'll still face exactly the same issues and problems that designers and the public have encountered with CD-ROMs:

Along with reviews, interviews and news, these are the sorts of subjects you'll find covered by Kludge as it evolves.

The World Wide Web, too, is a kludge. It's not the perfect model of electronic publishing, by a long shot.

But it's here, and it works. And for anyone interested in new media, it's a vast, exciting opportunity -- a kludge that demands, "make use of me!"

We're responding to that demand. No doubt we'll make mistakes. We hope you'll tell us when we do.

-- The Kludge team

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