Sep 16 • Notes • 17938 Views • 6 Comments on WHAT IS MULTIMEDIA?

Definition of MULTIMEDIA :

A multimedia computer system is one system  that is capable of input or output of more than one medium. The term is applied to systems that support more than one physical output medium, such as a computer display, various formats of image, audio and video.

Blattner and Dannenberg further makes the observation that “multimedia systems strive to take the best advantage of human senses in order to facilitate communication”. In multimedia the communication chooses the media  which is best suited to achieve its communicative goals; therefore, multimedia encompasses other media and provides the greatest scope or breadth of communicative possibilities.

The Encyclopedia Britannica Online defines Interactive Multimedia as “any computer-delivered electronic system that allows the user to control, concoct, and manipulate different types of media.” This definition resides on interactivity and computer control over the delivery of information in different media. The control includes the release of control to the reader or viewer so that they can participate in the development of meaning through interaction with a multimedia work.

While similar, the interesting in these definitions are what they are defining. The first definition is “multimedia system” while the second specifies “interactive multimedia”..

A multimedia working system is a computer-based rhetorical artifact where multiple media are integrated into an interactive whole.

We can use the parts of the definitions to analyze multimedia system.

Computer-based Definition:

The word “multimedia” originally referred to work of art that combines multiple traditional art media  as in a multimedia art installation sytem. By defining multimedia as ‘computer-based’ such mixed-media works are deliberately excluded. Also it is said that a multimedia work is a digital work that is accessed through  one or more computers even if parts were created in analogue form and then digitized for integration on the computer for working. This definition also excludes works that might have been created on a computer, like a DPF, but are accessible by readers through an analogue medium like print.

What are the Types of Multimedia?


Different Types of Multimedia

Classifying is a second way of thinking through multimedia and it is the one that involves surveying the variety of the phenomena. It is also a general move in any discussion of multimedia to give examples of these types of multimedia  especially to make the point that these types are no longer academic experiments which is inaccessible to the everyday consumer. The challenge of multimedia to the mankind is thinking through the variety of multimedia artifacts and questioning about the clusters of works which can be aggregated into types. Here are  examples: Web hypermedia

I. Computer games:

PC Gamse

Different types of computer games

The most commercially successful multimedia works are computer games whose short but rich history is interwoven with the development of multimedia technologies. Games like Myst (Cyan) which introduced consumers of all ages to the effective use of images, along animations, and environmental sound to create a fictional world characterized by navigation and puzzle-solving like which is real. More recently,  the advancements in hardware and software technologies for graphics, with video, animation, audio and sophisticated artificial intelligence and physics models are making game worlds look and act more convincing with real world. Games are normally distributed on DVD’s or CD-ROM, but the Web is frequently used for distributing software updates and game demos through internets.

II. Digital art:

Digital art

Digital Art in Multimedia

Artists have been using multimedia to create interactive installations which are controlled by computers and use multiple media. The example would be David Rokeby’s Very Nervous System , an interactive sound installation where the user or a performer generates sound and music through body movement which is a great example. These playful works are exhibited in galleries and museums as works of art that brings multimedia into the traditions of art exhibition. Other digital artists have created the Web works that are submitted to online exhibitions and mounted by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in their E•SPACE, which collects and commissions Web art objects.

Multimedia encyclopedia:

Multimedia has been used widely in education and for the presentation of researchworks . A common form of multimedia system is the multimedia encyclopedia like the Encyclopedia Britannica Online and Microsoft’s Encarta (on CD-ROM). Multimedia encyclopedias are the logical extension of the print genre  taking advantage of the computer’s capability to play time-dependent media like audio or video and animation to enhance the information accessibility.

What is the History of Multimedia?

A traditional way of thinking through something which is new is to recover its histories. The histories of multimedia  still being negotiated and include the histories of different media and the history of computing and the history of the critical theories applied to multimedia. The history of multimedia is the history of the personal computer. It evolved from an institutional machine which is designed for numerical processing to a personal multimedia computer that most of us can afford. The modern computer is a general-purpose machine , can be adapted to new purposes through programming and peripherals. The computer since the ENIAC can be seen as the working out of this idea in different ways. This includes the techniques for managing different media. When the first computers were designed solely to do scientific and applied numerical calculations then they were eventually extended to handle alphanumeric strings, raster and vector graphics, moving pictures (animation and video), audio. Finally, three-dimensional objects and space. Today’s PC can handle all these media with the appropriate peripherals. Making multimedia development & consumption available to the home user objects and space. Today’s personal computer can handle all these media with the appropriate peripherals and  making multimedia development and the consumption available to the home user.

Numbers and text:

If the first computers were designed for number crunching and data processing for military, scientific then business applications then they soon became adapted to text editing or the manipulation of alphanumeric strings. The first commercial word processor was  IBM MT/ST (magnetic tape / Selectric typewriter)  which was marketed by IBM as a ‘word processor” and released in mid 1960’s. It stored text on a tape for editing and reprinting through  electric typewriter. A word processor, as opposed to a text editor was meant for producing the rhetorical documents while text editors were for programming and interacting with the system. The late 1970s, personal computers which had primitive word processing programs that allowed one to enter, edit, print documents. MicroPro International’s WordStar  was one of the first commercially successful word processing programs for a PC, expanding the media. This could be handled by a home user from numbers to text.

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