breadth and potential of multimedia lends itself to utopian
proposals. The French media theorist Pierre
Levy describes multimedia as belonging to a trajectory of
planetary evolution that runs from DNA to cyberspace
an arc that follows pure information as it reaches towards its
most evolved form of expression. He proposes that today's global
networks will usher in an era of "collective intelligence,"
and suggests that "cyberspace constitutes a vast, unlimited
field... designed to interconnect and provide interface for
the various methods of creation, recording, communication and
simulation." His enthusiastic perspective is full of intriguing
the same time, we are all aware of the dystopian qualities of
the 24/7 infotainment juggernaut that is being delivered across
the globe through an ever more sophisticated telecommunications
network. We read daily about the new media's encroachment on
privacy, its opportunity for abuse, and the specter of centralized
control that it might make possible. These dangers are real.
There is a tension between opposing at the heart of the Internet
between those who prize its potential for an open, freewheeling
exchange of art and ideas, and those who see its pervasiveness
as an opportunity to expand upon the marketing-driven broadcast
model of 20th century media and it is not at all clear
whether utopian or dystopian visions will ultimately prevail.
project serves as a poignant reminder of the intentions of multimedia's
pioneers. Their words, typically written during the heat of
invention, convey a passionate involvement with higher ideals.
To a remarkable degree, these scientists, artists, and theorists
share a commitment to forms of media and communications that
are non-hierarchical, open, collaborative, and reflective of
the free movement of the mind at play. It is, in sum, an extraordinary
vision. But whether we will achieve it is an unresolved question.