Interactive Multimedia: The Fusion of Art and Technology
Life in the big city...
Things move; they dance; they play. Life does, people do. We look and we reach out to touch. We enjoy play. Depending on our purpose, we play either within the rules, or with the rules themselves: We play to win, and we play to keep on playing. This is our nature. We have interests and favorites. We enjoy being asked questions we know the answer to, and we enjoy finding what we are looking for. We like variety, and we especially like to imagine.
Today, technology has brought us to the point where we can interact with others from a distance. We interact with information sources and are entertained at the same time. We click a mouse and control the fate of heroes. We enjoy it. We learn from the interaction. We share.
We appreciate great images. We silently ponder wonderful music. We experience movies. We attend concerts, go to social events, and discuss all sorts of things with a wide variety of people. We lead a multimedia existence.
Do we talk to our children anymore?
Meet Multimedia: Literally, more than one form of communication simultaneously delivered to an audience. Multimedia means using animation, sound, video, and other media to achieve a desired effect. Each of these media carries its message differently. Combined together, they result in enhanced communication. We are active viewers, editing as we go. We always participate in the presentation. Different media command different sorts of attention. The medium not only conveys the message, it is the message.
Interactive Multimedia is today’s newest communications tool. It is multi-dimensional. The visitor to an interactive website participates in a unique experience. It is the participation itself that qualifies it as unique. Without participation a website would be like a brochure, or print advertisement. Interaction gives each person a different experience. The World Wide Web has new dimensions. Kiosks are created where the participant controls the experience: The person searches for and finds what they want to know, and even becomes impatient when forced to view things that are considered irrelevant. Interactive CD-ROM’s present products and companies to prospective customers with a new dynamism. Cell phones and smart phones tie us to information and to each other in ways never before seen. All of the above have at least two things in common: They use several types of media to present ideas and they require participation. The participant controls navigation. As such, the information is presented in a non-linear way… there is a beginning but no end.
Life is interactive. Interaction is the basis of biology. Human culture and civilization depend on it. Our morals, laws, and ethics govern our interactions. We are, each, the product of our total history of interaction. We enjoy it; we thrive on it. Our senses provide the input and our interactions provide the meaning. With interactive multimedia many of the senses are stimulated: The participant dances with the flow of the music, there is candy for the eyes and a sense of control. Properly done, interactive multimedia is pleasurable.
Advances in computing power and evolving user interfaces have made multimedia an effective and available resource for communication. Interactivity provides substance and the vehicle for experience. Multimedia provides the punch. We gain interest with the dynamics of the presentation, and sustain that interest through interaction. We learn, we know, and we feel good.
Multimedia in education
Is multimedia education a valid substitute for classroom based socially integrated learning?
You talkin' to me?
People react differently to different things. While we all enjoy a beautiful summer day, we each approach it differently. Some days we prefer one pastime and other days a different one. During work hours we think and behave in ways that would be unusual at the beach.
To attract and sustain attention we must know our audience and what they expect from the experience we are presenting. The vehicle must support the product and the target market’s expectation. We can bend the presentation, and even push the limits of the expectation, but we cannot ignore them or the presentation will fail. The user is the key.
Many presentations convey what the presenter wishes to say without consideration for the user. In interactive media, the participant can leave the site, or remove the CD. Many websites mimic the company’s internal structure, completely disregarding the needs and expectations of the audience. Even more are built like a brochure, ignoring the very nature of the presentation media. The user wants to find what they are looking for where they expect it. They want to participate. Design and navigation must explicitly account for this.
What is Multimedia?
Get yer cold beer here!
Sales drive every business enterprise. A vendor loudly hawking beer in the ballpark may still be the best means for the venue, but it hardly seems appropriate for selling an expensive home. Interactive multimedia materials are ideally suited for corporate sales presentations, the introduction of new products, or training new and existing staff. When linked to databases this new media provides customer service and support. Sales staff can use interactive CDs to present materials to prospective clients in ways that make PowerPoint presentations seem quaint. A kiosk can be installed in a large store to allow customers to find products or items that are on sale, get coupons, or check the status of back-ordered goods.
Interactive multimedia, whether web based or delivered on “hard” media, provides unprecedented resources to sales staff, educators, students, customers and others. Searchable interactive product catalogs replete with music, video clips, and photographs can be delivered to virtually any computer. High bandwidth Internet connections allow users from all over the world to participate in a presentation at whatever time they choose. The potential is enormous.
The Zen of Multimedia
Interactive multimedia is like a participatory show in a theater. People interact with a performance, and when the presentation accommodates their navigational and content-availability expectations, their interest is more likely to be sustained. To communicate, an appropriate degree of entertainment and interactivity is indispensable. Properly executed, an interactive multimedia piece can convey information more effectively than almost any other marketing or educational media available today. The communication becomes an experience. People are immersed in it, participate in it, learn from it, and remember it.