Virtual Markets and Communities: Why Multimedia Publishing is a Crock

Tim Oren, Kaleida

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University March 3, 1993


In previous writings, I have argued that the notion of 'multimedia publishing' on static media is inherently flawed, due to the inability to optimize the relevance of content to the individual user. In this talk, I'll review this argument and discuss more recent work which suggests that the appropriate model for interactive media is not publishing, but rather marketplaces and communities. Many of the phenomena of virtual communities and emergent markets can be readily observed today on the Internet and commercial services, though the latter have singularly failed to take advantage of it. This should lead to a reexamination of current notions of the future online world as a 'digital shopping mall.' Adopting this point of view also leads to conclusions regarding crucial technologies which are at variance with choices driven by the publishing model.


Tim Oren has recently become the Director of Network Development at Kaleida Labs. Previously he managed the Information Environments program at Apple Computer's Advanced Technology Group,. Among the group's responsibilities are advanced text database technologies, personalized news, and work on agents. He has most recently led an investigation into online virtual communities and their implications for software architecture. His previous projects include "Guides," an experiment in anthropomorphic agents in a multimedia database, and the "Electronic Whole Earth Catalog," one of the first large scale HyperCard products.

Mr. Oren holds an MS in systems science from Michigan State University. He is secretary of ACM's SIGLINK. His other professional affiliations include ACM SIGIR and SIGCH


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