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.