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Bob Stein

Related: information age - multimedia


In 1985, Bob Stein founded Voyager, one of the earliest encarnations of an exclusively multimedia based company. Starting with the release of laser disc versions of such films as King Kong and Citizen Kane under the Criterion Collection label, Voyager was from the start focused on the educational possiblities of media. In 1989, Voyager released an interactive guide to Beethhoven's Ninth Symphony, a work that is generally considered the first consumer CD-ROM title. The company subsequently released a profoundly diverse catalog of multimedia projects, expanding the user's experience by adding text, sound, and image to titles ranging from the history disc Who Built America to the performance pieces of New York artist Laurie Anderson.

Despite the ostensibly disparate nature of Voyager's titles, Stein ensured that his products were all unified by their reliance upon text to handle the bulk of the presented material- a concept that, like a book, ensures that users will be able to notice the depth of the material and medium alike. As Stein notes, What's great about books is that the power is in the hand of the user. Books are random access - you can read a sentence twice or go back and look up a reference. Books are a user-driven medium versus a producer-driven medium like film. What we do [at Voyager] is to transform a producer-driven medium into a user-driven one. The meta medium is that they're all random access."

Stein's driving interest in the update of the fundamentally engaging qualities of books to new electronic mediums has carried over to his current position as CEO of the web publishing venture Nightkitchen. By creating the authoring environment tk3 Stein has with Nightkitchen, created software that he proposes will "enable people- even those with no technical experience- to assemble text, images, audio, and video files into sophisticated electronic documents." Stein's forward-thinking actions in the realm of multimedia have consistently placed emphasis on the importance of the user in content authorship, and have given allowed interactive works to become visable within the commercial world. --http://interactive.usc.edu/archives/2003_04.html

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