Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Sound on the Web

I had to go to the doctor this week. She wrote me a prescription, and then went to her "sample room" to get me a sample of it. The sample room is an 8'x10' (3 x 3 meters) room lined with shelves. On each shelf is a row of small plastic bins and each bin contains samples for one or more drugs. I would guess that there are samples for hundreds of different drugs in this room. There was a drug company representative (dark suit, white shirt, tie) in the room at the moment we entered. He was taking inventory of the samples from his company and replenishing them as necessary.

She handed me a sample of Bextra, which I've never heard of. It's just a blister pack with no information beyond the name of the drug on the package. When I got home I went to the web site (conveniently and I wanted to know two things about the drug: 1) how does it work, and 2) what are the side effects. The dosage information was on the prescription, but I was curious about it too.

Obviously these are pretty common questions, because right on the home page there's a link to "How Bextra Works," where you find this animation:

This is a very long way of getting to my point. I looked at this animation and went through its eight different panes, and I thought, "Wow, no sound." In other words, I expected there to be sound, and there was none.

That reaction is becoming more common for me, and it's an interesting transition. Two years ago I would have considered sound to be an intrusion -- books don't have sound, so why should a Web page? Since then my feelings have changed. So many things on the Web have sound now that it is becoming expected (at least to my brain). Apparently, to my brain, the Web is looking less and less like books/magazines/brochures and more and more like TV/films, and sound is becoming a requirement in anything that is animated.

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