In the first place
Though it's perhaps a little too soon to judge, early indications from last month's Readership Survey would seem to suggest we have broad support for the changes which the magazine has undergone in recent months. Despite concerns we may have had that things were moving rather faster than many readers would like, it seems that most of you are only too aware of what's taking place in the wider technological arena and see the realignment of the magazine as the inevitable corollary of this.
So what exactly is taking place? Are we in the throes of a revolution or is this simply another stage in some evolutionary process which, depending on which theory you subscribe to, began with the invention of the computer, the discovery of electricity - or the production of iron and steel?. Though clearly having revolutionary consequences, the current changes in technology can only really be seen in evolutionary terms. The PowerPC - fast and immensely powerful - is, nevertheless, the natural descendant of the current generation of CPUs (with which it will need to remain compatible if it is to gain wide-scale acceptance). Yet only with the availability of the PowerPC will desktop video, for example, realise its full potential and become in the '90s what desktop publishing was in the '80s. (Even the most powerful of today's personal computers find the going tough when manipulating the vast quantities of data involved in the processing of video images.)
Similarly, one cannot consider the development of the CD-ROM without looking at its immediate predecessor, the audio CD, with us for more than a decade now. Leaving aside CD-i for the moment, the technology of the CD-ROM system differs little from its audio counterpart (indeed, many CD-ROM players currently offer audio CD compatibility). There can be no doubt that the fortunes of multimedia as an exciting new departure in technology are inextricably linked to the development of the CD as a cheap and convenient mass storage device.
Clearly, it's no longer possible to view every new development as revolutionary in itself. Research into any branch of technology invariably involves other technology; each new machine takes its place at the end of an evolutionary line. The revolution comes with the application of technology - the point where people enter the picture, and where, maybe, things start to get scary. It's not the robot with the flashing antenna and the expressionless eyes that should worry us, but the programming which determines whether or not he's on our side. Actually, we are the robots.
Editorial by Nigel Lord
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