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JANUARY 13, 2011

What's old is new again

CD-ROM coversThere was a time in the late 90s when interactive CD-ROMs were the most exciting thing around. Artists like Laurie Anderson, David Bowie and Peter Gabriel tried their hands at creating multi-media experiences.

Pop Anderson's Puppet Motel into your computer and "...amazing spaces shift and dissolve around you, offering ways to join, alter, and record the Anderson experience."

With David Bowie Interactive you could "Experience the fusion of music, video and interactivity in a creative explosion of merging multimedia."

And it wasn't just music. A company called Voyager published dozens of interactive titles. It was the future of publishing...until about 2000, when the whole industry suddenly faded away. Hard to believe that eleven years have passed since I wrote Whatever became of interactive CD-ROMs?

Long story short, the Web killed CD-ROMs.

The iPad arrives

Fast-forward to 2011 and there's no question that Apple's iPad has jump-started all sorts of experiments with interactive publishing. Watch the video at right to see a fun sample of a children's book.

Martha Stewart give a longer and more detailed explanation of how magazine publishing is being transformed by this device that people can take with them into the kitchen, out to the garden, basically anywhere.

This portability, combined with vastly more powerful capabilities to show images and video make a huge difference. With CDs you were tethered to your clunky desktop computer—now you can take your "magazine" or "book" with you just about as easily as their paper versions.

It's still too early to say for sure whether this latest incarnation of the interactive book will really take hold with a wide audience, but I'm pretty sure that Martha is on to something (not to mention the publishers of WIRED, Esquire, The New York Times, etc.) There's a great video you can watch on the Adobe website: Martha Stewart Living, Re-imagined for the iPad.

If you have an iPad, or are designing iPad apps, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Click on the Speech balloons Comments link below.

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