web: multimedia killed by far worse videos

Video now consumes most Internet bandwidth. But video is terrible for imparting information about… stuff on web pages, or for teaching me about music.

Videos that scroll through web pages

screenshot of Yannic Kilcher's YouTube video "Text Embedding Reveal (Almost) As Much As Text"
Forget about scrolling that PDF down to read the next paragraph, this is a 2020s video, not 1990s interactive multimedia

It is nuts that in order to read about, say AI news, I watch 12-minute videos wherein a good commenter like AI-Explained or Yannic Kilcher talks about recent announcements WHILE I WATCH THEM SCROLL UP AND DOWN through Xitter threads, other web pages, and PDFs. It’s a colossal non-interactive waste of bandwidth. What happened to multimedia apps?! I should visit their site and view their web page “2023-12-07 AI News.” As they talk (or as I scroll through their text), the different URLs appear in a nested frame. They can still highlight bits of text, but at any time I should be able to pause and read the source web page. Instead I have to pause the video, load the URL in another window, scroll to the text that the video presented, continue reading, then return to the video. And/or, what happened to the various attempts decades ago to let people annotate arbitrary web pages, so that I could go on a guided tour of the various URLs and read the commentator’s take on each one? We have far more powerful interactive capabilities in web pages, but they’re only exposed in closed apps and (as I understand it) web sites like Brilliant.

Music is multimedia – nope, it’s more video

box art of Microsoft Multimedia Beethoven The Ninth Symphony, An Illustrated, Interactive Musical Exploration
Forget about an Illustrated, Interactive Musical Exploration 30 years later, but you can watch a non-interactive video instead

Similarly, I can’t enjoy an interactive analysis of a music track, I have to watch a video about it. When Adam Neely or Rick Beato talk about a piece of music, I should be able to seamlessly jump from them talking about a particular riff or chord to hearing it, or vice versa: as the track plays, their video and transcript jump to the relevant part of their commentary, and when they say “diminished B-flat over F sus,” I can pop up the music notation of the chord on a staff and click a play button. Years ago you could enjoy interactive multimedia explorations of Beethoven and opera made possible by multimedia authoring tools like Macromind Director. Now you have to start and stop a video and manually synchronize your own playback of the music. And imagine if, as the expert discuss chords, there’s an on-screen keyboard showing the notes that you can play. I guarantee there were multimedia CD-ROM apps that let you do this in the 1990s; an article about the Microsoft Home multimedia title shown above says

Multimedia Beethoven: The Ninth Symphony is the first of the titles to be available under the Microsoft-Voyager agreement. The package uses a mixture of sound, text and graphics and the user can delve into sections of the four movements of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, explore Beethoven’s life … have an in-depth look at the musical architecture of the symphony or review a measure-by-measure commentary.

Tech Monitor March 27, 1991

30 years later, we have computer a million times faster and much of the creative output of humanity digitized and available online through high-bandwidth connections, and we’re stuck watching VHS tapes, but with faster rewind and fast-forward.

Technical solutions got steamrollered by the easy monetization of YouTube videos constantly interrupted by ads.

About skierpage

As you might guess, my site is mine. My Schema.org info is at .
This entry was posted in software, web. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.