Earth to CBC: Wake Up!

The latest debacle to ooze from the CBC is something called CBC Home Delivery, which uses technology from BackWeb to push audio and video content to Windows desktops in the background.

Setting aside that this is a web metaphor that others explored and abandoned several Internet eons ago, the project represents another instance where the CBC is determined to showcase the “new” in “new media.” And so rather than presenting text, audio and video content in an open, standards-based way that would allow the content to “participate in the web,” it’s all hidden behind multimedia-drenched locked doors.

Go to this page for example. After you skip over the masturbatory opening sequence, you’ll see several paragraphs of text explaining the new project. Try and copy and paste this text. You can’t. Because it’s not really text, it’s a Flash presentation. Yes it’s hot and sexy and a gyrational. But say you’re blind and want the text read to you by your computer: no dice. Or say you want to quote from the text. Or link to it. Nope.

What’s the rationale for this? This page says:

Home Delivery is finally here and offering you a way to cut through the overflow of information out there and take media to a new level. It’s taking storytelling to a whole new level by offering smart, rich content — no waiting, no downloading, and no searching.

Even if you ignore the separatist approach to technology the project embodies, I have to question who exactly the market for “news as Depeche Mode videos” crossed with “news as slideshow-enhanced radio clips” is. The multimedia layer adds nothing to the content. Short of employing a gaggle of Flash designers and programmers, I can’t see why the CBC would bother heading in this direction. Where are they getting their advice? Who is it that’s telling them that the accidents that are CBC Radio Three and ArtsCanada are something we need more?

This is not to say that the CBC isn’t doing some good things with “new media.”

The “View Traffic Now” feature of the CBC Toronto Metro Morning program is an excellent use of multimedia to make a complex set of information clear, concise and easy to access (I’d link right to it, but alas I can’t do that either: go to the main Metro Morning page and click on the “View Traffic Now” link on the left-hand side of the page).

The science show Quirks & Quarks has streaming audio of all of their programmes available in a variety of formats (which a pleasant departure from the CBC’s tendency to use RealAudio, which is slow, unreliable and often over-subscribed).

These examples use multimedia where it’s useful, rather than as a sort of virtual mayonaise to slather over content to make the young ones think it’s not their father’s CBC.

Stop the insanity.


Andrew Chisholm's picture
Andrew Chisholm on March 2, 2003 - 22:23 Permalink

I must admit they have a nice set up. But like CNN and now CTV, CBC is trying to make money where there is no money to be made.

Alan's picture
Alan on March 2, 2003 - 23:47 Permalink

The CBC web dorks should look at the BBC sites which are useful, overwelmingly generous with the information they contain and simple to use. CBC 3 should have a good hard look at BBC 6, a real web based radio station.

Eaglethorpe Martini's picture
Eaglethorpe Martini on March 3, 2003 - 04:10 Permalink

I never heard of Radio 3, thanks for pointing it out to me.
It’s like The Village Voice or Buzz, but all CBC’d. I kind of like it. Even CBC can’t make a radio loud enough for deaf people, or was that blind people. And you can’t cut and paste from a magazine either, but I still like reading them. What’s wrong with masturbatory? That’s how we got Road to Avonlea (historical masturbation), the CBC (intellectual masturbation) and the number one business on the internet — porn.
Go CBC, I’m pulling for ya!

Justin's picture
Justin on March 3, 2003 - 15:36 Permalink

Hahaha. That hurt, I already have sore ribs.
Sometimes corporate entities have to “do internet” because it’s there. If they don’t, the paranoia is that: somewhere out there is someone in the biz who can point a corporate finger at them and say “Ha-hah”

Jevon's picture
Jevon on March 4, 2003 - 05:26 Permalink

I just used it,. It’s pretty decent. Flash use and all.

Clark's picture
Clark on March 4, 2003 - 13:42 Permalink

Seems ok but I can’t imagine installing another application just to view their content.

Will's picture
Will on March 4, 2003 - 19:17 Permalink

Lately you can smell the desperation on the nervous breath of CBC executives from a mile away. They know the CBC is becoming obsolete as they fail to attract the younger “new media” generation.

What they don’t realise is that they are really alienating a “media wise” generation. We’ve seen enough masturbatory uses of flash and sites where content and usability take a backseat to presentation — no one is impressed anymore. The CBC ought to drop the bills to hire Zeldman or Nielsen and let them have a go at their ill-thought web presence with a sharp knife.

Ken's picture
Ken on March 4, 2003 - 22:21 Permalink

The most beautiful photograph I’ve seen using IE is on the cover of Radio3. Also, I heard a singer that sounded like Joe Strummer — from a new band the Constantines, which I Kazaa’d immediately. Thank you Radio3. However, there is a very Orwellian Flash setting allowing CBC access to your mic & camera. You really need edition-vitesse from your ISP and a fast CPU to enjoy Radio3. Is it elitist not to serve the lowest common denominator? Or cutting edge?

john ron john's picture
john ron john on November 26, 2003 - 08:32 Permalink

some of these comments sound really out of touch and grumpy. radio3 is amazing, content, idea, and flash wise. and i can tell you it is very popular with young hipsters. the review was a blob of cringe inducing grinch cynicism; lighten up.

as for elitism…are you serious?
most people by now should have a reasonably
smooth, speedy connection, if not…