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Speaking in Tongues

AltaVista gets serious about global communication.

Weird News is Good News

How our eccentricities can bring us together.

Entertainment Asylum

Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't.

Terminal Care

Grave sites aren't what they used to be.

Making the eSCENE

Must fiction be print to be hip?

The Living and the Dead

An in-depth look at death in America reveals how stories become the salves of the living.

The Wings of Perseus

The modern-day world of the ancients.


A new Internet guide with venerable roots.

Bureaucrats with 'Tude

The IRS tries to lighten up. It's a bit of a strain.

For more, see the complete Web Citations Index.
December 24, 1997

StreamlandWired magazine's October cover story, "Real Revolution," suggested that, thanks to streaming video, the Web is finally on its way to becoming a truly multimedia environment. "RealVideo," the magazine announced, "could transform the Net into a mass-market conduit for all manner of video content -- one that could someday challenge the landed interests of the TV industry."

So far, few Web sites are making a serious attempt to pursue that vision, but it's probably just a matter of time. Already there is SonicNet's recently launched Streamland, conceived as an alternative to MTV, serving up original programming of independent and small-label music videos that are unable to break into the MTV rotation. Founded upon the assumption that someday the Net will be a viable competitor for TV's audience, Streamland may represent a brilliant idea that has arrived before its time -- it's hard to imagine kids giving up their MTV these days in favor of what RealVideo can offer.

Nevertheless, others are proving that video on the Web can be an interesting and useful possibility that reaches beyond entertainment, as a special report currently found on the New York Times Web site reveals. The Times feature, titled "A View of North Korea's Famished Children," was written by the Canadian journalist Hilary Mackenzie, who was sent to North Korea North Korean childby the U.N. to report on the famine there. Blending text, still photography, and streaming video, the feature points toward the birth of a serious new form of documentary, unconstrained by the format (and economics) of traditional media. The use of RealVideo in Mackenzie's report delivers an immediacy and a visceral impact that the text-and-photos format of the print media alone cannot, while the text (and links to related Web sites) offers a depth of context and of reportorial detail that is seldom possible on television.

Mackenzie's report is just one example of how journalists and documentarists can take advantage of the Web's emerging technologies, presenting an alternative to the predictable story in which the Web and TV converge to become the next entertainment medium. It suggests that there are possibilities for new media that can transcend television, not merely compete with it.

Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
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