Another peek inside the unfolding universe of the World Wide Web. A broad cast of characters from a variety of backgrounds and work experiences (hence the subtitle) populates this short chronology, which looks at what has been accomplished in the brief history of interactive entertainment on the Internet. Geirland, who writes for Wired and the Los Angeles Times, and Kedar, a management consultant, cover only a few ventures and give little background or explanation as to why some are included or what might be left out. The introductory section covers the birth and short life of "The Spot," a quirky Web-based production that combined elements of television soap opera and call-in radio. Another start-up, "The Greenhouse," helped pioneer some of the tools and interactive uses of the Web environment. Larger ventures, such as the Microsoft Network, (MSN) did not suffer from lack of capital or talent but erred in their premature assessment of which way the Internet was developing. Rapid growth, deadline crunches, shifting competition, and lack of business savvy were shared problems as these and other companies struggled to succeed. Many of them generated material while grounded in creative bases in southern California that were awkwardly opposed to the technology-based teams working to the north. The authors claim that "online entertainment failed" in these and other efforts because it was too different from established practices, but they add that it's already "coming back" because of demand from the huge Web audience. All this may be true, but their poorly organized presentation makes the argument hard to follow. Meandering and erratic; rarely imparts any meaningful understanding of the topic it covers.
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