Kudos to Snarkmarket for pulling out the two choice quotes from this great Bob Stein interview:
Bob Stein, founder of the Institute for the Future of the Book, talks about working for Alan Kay, starting the Criterion Collection and Voyager on laserdisc, Hypercard e-books, and interactive CD-ROMs Ã¢â‚¬â€ essentially, the whole prehistory of where we are now with just about all digital media:
The book was always fundamental to me. One of the things I really liked was that the original logo for Criterion, which we designed in 1984, was a book turning into a disc. It was central. When I was writing the paper for Britannica, I felt like I had to relate the idea of interactive media to books, and I was really wrestling with the question Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhat is a book?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s essential about a book? What happens when you move that essence into some other medium? And I just woke up one day and realized that if I thought about a book not in terms of its physical propertiesÃ¢â‚¬â€ink on paperÃ¢â‚¬â€but in terms of the way itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s used, that a book was the one medium where the user was in control of the sequence and the pace at which they accessed the material. I started calling books Ã¢â‚¬Ëœuser-driven media,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ in contrast to movies, television, and radio, which were producer-driven. You were in control of a book, but with these other media you werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t; you just sat in a chair and they happened to you. I realized that once microprocessors got into the mix, what we considered producer-driven was going to be transformed into something user-driven. And that, of course, is what you have today, whether itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s TiVo or the DVD.
And how did DVDs get commentary tracks? Let Bob tell you:
You have to understand how much of this stuff is accidental. I knew the guy who was the curator of films at the LA County Museum of Art, and I brought him to New York to oversee color correction. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s telling us all these amazing stories, particularly about King Kong, because itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s his favorite film. Someone said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœGee, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got this extra sound track on the LaserDisc, why donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you tell these stories?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ He was horrified at the idea, but we promised weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d get him superstoned if he did, and he gave this amazing discussion about the making of King Kong, which we released as the second sound trackÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
We had people driving to our home, where our offices were, by the second day, and begging for copies. It was Los Angeles, it was the film industryÃ¢â‚¬â€and finally someone had done something serious with film. Film was suddenly being treated in a published form, like literature. But this still wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mainstream. Citizen Kane was three discs and cost $125. It cost us $40 to manufacture. The most LaserDiscs we ever sold was about twenty thousand copies of Blade Runner.
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t usually squee with delight, but: Squeee!