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History and Meaning of the Term 'Multimedia'

From: Hansen, Eric <ehansen@ets.org>
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 22:06:02 -0400
To: "UA List (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-ua@w3.org>
Message-id: <A12997152E36D31187A4000077893CFB036FC394@rosnt46.ets.org>
Following are a few quotes by Bergman and Moore (1990) "Managing Interactive
Video/Multimedia Projects" seem to shed light on the meaning of the history
and meaning of the term 'multimedia':

"Even the words 'interactive video' and 'multimedia' can cause confusion.
For 
several years, the videodisc was the only source of motion video segments 
that could be accessed rapidly to support effective interactivity. Hence the

term applied to these applications came to be 'interactive videodisc,' or 
more commonly, 'IVD.' Recently, digital technology has made it possible to 
provide motion video using other devices, especially the small optical discs

called CD-ROM. Another factor has been the development of image-based 
applications that use graphic pictures and digital audio, and no motion
video 
at all. The term 'multimedia' has been adapted as a generic reference to all

such image-based applications." (p. 5. This passage was cited in an earlier
memo on the WCAG list [1]). 

"When this book was begun, the term 'multimedia application' was used to
describe presentations made with multiple slide projectors and audio players
controlled with a computer.

"The term IVD [interactive videodisc [IVD] or interactive video] is often
used interchangeably with 'multimedia'.

"However, the latter term has come into use to reflect the advent of many
new technologies that extend the capability of these audio/video
presentations." [They refer to touch screens, pointing devices, and
digitized video stored in data files.]

"It should be noted that many IVD projects are implemented with _both_
videodisc player _and_ a CD-ROM. The use of the large capacity of CD-ROM for
data storage, digital audio, and high-quality graphics makes it a natural
partner for the videodisc, and it is quite inexpensive to use it for these
purposes. The combination provides designers with the capability to
implement true 'multimedia' applications. Thus, we often use the term
'IVD/multimedia' as a generic term." (p. xxi)

Note that audio presentations (i.e., audio-only presentations) don't seem to
fit this definition of multimedia. Standalone visual tracks (i.e.,
video-only presentations) _might_ fit by virtue of being an image-based
presentation. A still image by itself does not seem to fit the definition. A
still image with audio might fit since it uses "graphic pictures and digital
audio, and no motion video at all". However, a "true 'multimedia'
application' seems to include motion video and audio.

Our definition of multimedia presentation seems to correspond generally to
what we was referred to as 'true multimedia':

UAAG 10 June 2000 version:
"Multimedia Presentation"
"For the purposes of this document, a multimedia presentation is a
presentation that synchronizes both auditory and visual information. This
includes, for example, any movie that has sound as well as animations that
present audio. A multimedia presentation has a visual track and an auditory
track."
 
[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-au/1999OctDec/0339.html


===========================
Eric G. Hansen, Ph.D.
Development Scientist
Educational Testing Service
ETS 12-R
Princeton, NJ 08541
609-734-5615 (Voice)
E-mail: ehansen@ets.org
(W) 609-734-5615 (Voice)
FAX 609-734-1090
Received on Tuesday, 20 June 2000 22:06:40 GMT

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