Computers are cool: Hip Nettwerk Records tells
by Alan Zisman (c)
1994. First published in Our Computer Player, December 1994
Box 330- 1755 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC V6G 3B7
tel (604) 654-2929
fax (604) 654-1993
If you're over 25 or so, you probably remember the
stereotype of young computer users (aka 'nerd').
Male, wears glasses, drinks Jolt cola, eats pizza, has
bad skin, not much of a sex life, and would rather talk to a computer
than another human.
Well, somewhere along the way, it seems to have
Maybe due to the Mac, or multimedia. Or the Internet.
Somewhere along the line, it seems like computers
became hip... the nerds of yesteryear became today's in-crowd.
While I'm not sure exactly when this happened, there's
a lot of evidence that this major transition has, in fact, occured.
Check out WIRED Magazine... or even staid Ziff-Davis
Publishing's wannabee COMPUTER LIFE. Over the summer, TIME MAGAZINE
surveyed what was hip... they claimed that the new underground was
They may be right-- cruise the World Wide Web, the
coolest way to surf the Internet. It seems like every other home page
is devoted to alternative music. Or is exhibiting an art show. What
would have been an underground newspaper in the late '60s today is a
Today art school-- tomorrow the Information
Latest bit of evidence is Vancouver's long-time
alternative record company-- Nettwerk. They've brought us music from
the Grapes of Wrath to my 13 year old daughter's current fave, Sarah
McLaughlin. Of course, they have their own WWW address:
And their latest project is to merge the audio CD with
multimedia CD-ROM. After all, a full audio CD holds 60 minutes or so of
music, but most albums only use a fraction of that. Rather than ship
the disk with empty space, you might as well add some multimedia
First to hit the record store shelves is "Far Out" by
Ginger, sort of a descendent of the now-defunct Grapes of Wrath. The
first track of the audio CD is unplayable on your home stereo--- it's
all computer information. (Don't try to play it at home, kids-- you
won't like the results. Trust me on this). The other eleven tracks are
a standard stereo CD.
Track one, however, appears as files on either a Mac
or Windows PC, equipped with a standard multimedia CD-ROM player.
Viewed from Windows File Manager, you get two directories... one
installs a run-time of Apple's QuickTime movie player, enabling the
same video clips to be used on either a Mac or under Windows.
The other directory includes a bunch of files. Double
click on GINGER.EXE to get a picture of a bunch of dogs hanging out on
the beach-- the cover of the CD. An instruction pops up suggesting that
you single-click on the dogs' heads. Click on the house in the
backgound to quit.
Depending on which dog you pick, you get one of seven
30-second sound bites from the band's previous EP release, a couple of
music videos, or behind the scene footage from the making of the CD.
There's other cute tricks as well, but I'm sworn to secrecy.
Biographies of the band members.
Other musicians have released CD-ROMs in the past
year. Peter Gabriel and once-known-as-Prince have both jumped into the
multimedia market with disks that will set you back $60-80.
Nettwerk, by contrast, sees this disk as going on the
shelves at record stores with computer departments, such as Vancouver's
A&B Sound, and selling for just a few dollars more than standard
audio CDs. And they see it as the first of a series... another, by
Sarah McLaughlin, is expected to be released by early December.
I certainly wish them every success. I mean, like I'm
in my mid-40s... a parent and a teacher. My daughter had to take me to
the Orpheum to see Sarah McLaughlin, but I'd rather hear her music, or
Ginger's, then some dinosaur re-tread from the '60s, like (dare I say)
the Rolling Stones.
And I can only applaud Nettwerk's effort to give some
multimedia added value to their audio product. Especially since by
doing so, they prove that you and I and the rest of the computer users
(Note from the year
2003): The above article was originally published in 1994, as a review.
A decade or so later, I've gotten a series of emails from fans
hoping that I could sell them a copy of this software or direct them to
a place where it is still available. While I have reviewed software
since 1991, I am not a vendor of r any products. I suggest to everyone
looking for copies of older software to check at eBay
or at OldSoftware.com.If you
check on my Files webpages, you'll find links to a number of (mostly
freeware) downloadable software, some of which may be good replacements
for older programs.
-- AZ (September 15, 2003)