It was discomania that had me eagerly anticipating the release of the One Show on CD-ROM ever since I read about its development late last year. However, when I saw an ad for it in Creativity, my enthusiasm cooled. "Available on Macintosh CD-ROM," it stated. Now, admittedly, Macs dominate agency creative departments, but the overwhelming majority of the computer market belongs to PC owners, including yours truly.
My craving for digitized advertising demanded satisfaction. I furiously searched for a One Show CD-ROM substitute. I finally thought I found it when I stumbled across an item from a Dallas mail order house titled Commer- cials of the '50s and '60s. (It's both PC and Mac compatible.)
To their credit, the publishers of this disc were honest enough not to use the word "classic" in the title. Let me put it this way: if there'd been a One Show back then, these spots wouldn't be Pencilists.
The publishers also resisted the temptation to call the disc "interactive." After all, the only interactive feature to speak of was a VCR-like control panel. Ironically, a few minutes into the disc I realized that I had actually seen a similar collection on a videotape, a rental called "Commercial Mania." Out of curiosity, I took another look at "Commercial Mania." Comparing it to the CD-ROM brought the differences between the two mediums into focus. Though viewing the old spots on my computer monitor was different, it sure wasn't better. Not by a long shot. The image quality of VHS is vastly superior to the tiny screen that digital compression allows. And since digital video is a memory hog, the CD-ROM contained far fewer spots than the videotape. So, besides faster access, what's the point of putting this material on a CD-ROM?
I discovered the CD-ROM industry has a name for products like this-shovelware. Rather than exploit the interactive potential of CD-ROMs (an expensive and time-consuming proposition), books and films are digitally dumped onto a disc. Perhaps not too surprisingly, the biggest scoop of shovelware sales is digitized porn. Director John Waters has attributed the '80s VCR revolution to the fact that, unlike Pee-wee Herman, most people don't have the nerve to masturbate in movie theaters. Now X-rated shovelware is expanding another hardware user base. Sure, it could be argued that users of dirty shovelware are interacting with themselves, but that definition makes the videotapes this ware was shoveled from interactive as well.
The real turn-on of shovelware isn't interaction or instant access, it's simply the novelty of seeing content from another medium on a computer. My discomania began to dissipate, replaced by digital discernment. Soon I found myself questioning the value of putting the One Show on CD-ROM at all.
Is clicking buttons to open screens and randomly access material any more interactive than thumbing through a book and fast-forwarding through a reel? Certainly the reproduction in the traditional One Show book and video are closer to the real thing. Is it calling a spade a spade to say the One Show on CD-ROM is just more shovelware?
The ad freak in me says, "Who cares? It's a cool new way to look at the One Show winners." The recovering discomaniac says, "It's a good first step. But why not raise the IQ (Interactive Quotient) of future editions?" To this point, the ad promoting the One Show on CD-ROM offers a suggestion. The headline positions it as a resource for "stealing your ideas." OK, then why not make it an encyclopedic rip-off resource containing all 16 volumes of One Show winners? Cross reference the contents with hypertext so executions, subject matter, product categories and credits can be instantly called up.
Better yet, bundle in desktop publishing and video editing software that would let Dr. Frankensteins at agencies everywhere perform cybersurgery on One Show winners and reassemble them into monstrous new creations. Include value-added goodies like a Font Filchers File which can be downloaded to provide last year's cutting-edge typography. And a Sound Snatcher that randomly assembles music samples into eclectic new tracks.
There could be helpful databases, like a Geek Gallery with mug shots and vital stats on quirky character actors whose casting bestows awards potential to any spot. And a phone directory of bizarre businesses like colonic irrigation parlors, branding salons and penile implant clinics for One Show aspirants in search of a creative showcase.
Features like these would transform the One Show on CD-ROM into a treasure trove of plunderware. It could certainly be sold for a lot more than its current