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[Multimedia is not invention but an ongoing discovery of how the mind and the universes it imagines (or vise versus depending) fit together and interacts. Multimedia is where we have always been going. Geeks and art boys, emerging together from the caves of Altamira, have long been about this great work.]

Multimedia is not invention but an ongoing discovery of how the mind and the universes it imagines (or vise versus depending) fit together and interacts. Multimedia is where we have always been going. Geeks and art boys, emerging together from the caves of Altamira, have long been about this great work.

Multimedia is emerging as a defining medium of the 21st century. The worldwide web, CD-ROMs, virtual reality arcade games, and interactive installations only hint at the forma of multimedia to come. Yet the concept of the integrated, interactive media has its own long history, an evolution that spans more than 150 years. Remarkably, this has been largely untold story. Discussions of the development of the personal computer and the internet tend to focus on a few highly successful entrepreneurs, neglecting the less-known work of the engineers and artist who first sought to craft a medium that would appeal to all the senses simultaneously- a medium that would mimic and enhance the creative capacities of the human mind.

Here, then, is a secret history of multimedia: a narrative that includes the pioneering activities of a diverse group of artist, scientist, poets, musicians and theories from Richard Wagner to Ivan Sutherlands, from Vannevar Bush to Bill Viola.

Beginning with Wagner, subsequent generations of artist sort, and found, integrated forms and inter disciplinary strategies to express their concerns with individual and social conciseness and extreme states of subjective experience. In the year since world war2, Scientist have pursued personal computing and Human-Computer interactivity as vehicles for transforming consciousness, extending memory, increasing knowledge, amplifying the intellect, and enhancing creativity. The idealistic and ideological aspirations of both groups has resulted in a new medium that emphasizes individual choice, free associational and personal expression.

Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality brings together the major writings by multimedia's pioneers for the first time in order to foster a greater understanding of its precedents, landmarks, aesthetic roots, social impact and revolutionary potential.

Toward a definition of Multimedia

Many critics of today's multimedia shy away from attempts to identify a dominant theme behind the emergence of this new medium. They say that subject to various, that it resists a neat historical frame. In fact, there is a tendency among critics to celebrate the elusive nature of the subject. Multimedia, by its very nature is open, democratic, non-hierarchical, fluid, varied, inclusive- a slippery domain that evades the critic's grasp just on the verge of definition. But these qualities did not evolve by happenstance. They were the product of deliberate in tent on the part of multimedia's pioneers, who were aiming for quite coherent goals.

Just as there are many possible parts through a network, there are many potential ridings of multimedia's history. In ours, the key characteristics intrinsic to computer based multimedia are defined as integration, interactivity, emersion, hyper media, and narratively. These five characteristics the Scope of multimedia's capabilities for expression; they establish its full potential. The purpose of this report is to show how these characteristics evolve more or less simultaneously, each following it own tradition and trajectory and yet in extractible interwoven with the others in a web of mutual influence.

The following definitions apply to the five key characteristics of multimedia

  • Integration
    • The Combining of artistic forms and technology in to a high bread form of expressions
  • Interactivity
    • The ability of the user to manipulate and affect his or her experience of media directly, and to communicate with others through media.
  • Hypermedia
    • The linking of separate media elements to one another to create a trail of personal association.
  • Emersion
    • The experience of entering in to the stimulation or suggestion of a three-dimensional environment.
  • Narratively
    • Aesthetic formal strategies that derive form the above concepts, which result in nonlinear story forms media presentation.

The Third Revolution in Graphics

Few decades, if any, can compare with first 10 years of the twenty first century for such extraordinary technological leads in the field of consumer electronics. Even more remarkable is how blithely most people integrate new technologies into their daily behaviors- and then wonder how they ever got along before they had the latest widget.

In 1984, Apple introduced the MAC and first brought the graphical user interface to the masses. "Look," Apple said, "computers are powerful, useful tools, but they're clumsy and in elegant." Of course, the MAC was derided as a toy by those who had grown accustomed to typing their instructions at a command line.

But look where we are now: every sub sequent personal computer operating system has followed the Mac's example. 26 years later, we're all interacting with the computers with a cursor driven interface in which we point, click, and drag.

But as good as the MAC interface is, Apple realize that it isn't good enough. While PC makers have been adding extra buttons and controls to try to give users more ways to tell their computers what to do, Apple has been headed in the opposite direction by removing the buttons.

A new way doing things

The smart phone market gave Apple an opportunity to implement these ideas on a more compact canvas. Seventy five million IPhones and IPod touches later, touch screen interface has become familiar; users have learned a new way of doing things.

But even now, the IPad is a bold, ambitious product. Like the IPhone, it abstracts the nitty-gritty details of a computer's underpinnings and removes obstructions to the tasks you actually want to do. Much of the negative response to the IPad seems filled with anger (which, as Yoda pointed out, stems from fear). Much of that anger comes from power users who like dealing with the underpinnings of their computers. I don't think Apple wants to kill of tinkerers-it just wants to make sure that you don't have to be a tinkerer to use a computer.

Making Computing easier

Few people mourned the damage the personal computer dealt to the typewriter, and most of those who did were either a) fueled by nostalgia or b) people who made typewriters. Few people mourned the damage that email and the internet dealt to the fax machine-in fact, we're mostly just pretty ticked-off that the fax machine is still persistently clinging to life at all. In both instances, people embraced the new technology because it was, well, better.

The IPad represents the next phase of computing. Apple isn't the only one to realize it, either. What Google is doing either its chrome OS is different than what apple is doing with IPad. But they're both aimed at the same target: making computing easier for the average user. I wager that we'll see a touch screen tablet running chrome OS within a year of the software's release, though I am skeptical of how effective that combination will be.

The IPad won't kill the computer any more than the graphical user interface did away with the command line. (It's still there, remember?) But it is Apples way of saying, once again, that there's a better way. Regardless of how many people buy the IPad, it's not hard to look forward a few years and imagine a world where more and more people are interacting with the technology in this new way. Even if it often seems to do just the opposite, the ultimate goal of technology has always been to make life easier.

The Decade's top 10 trends:

  1. Cell Cam
  2. Cell phone applications
  3. Digital Music
  4. DVD/ Blu-Ray
  5. GPS
  6. Social Networking
  7. Laptops
  8. DVR
  9. EBooks
  10. Big-Screen Plasma TV

Cell Cams

The software development moved more quickly than that of the hardware. First came cameras that clicked into a cellphone equipped with photo software. Three years later the first integrated cellphone/camera, the sharp J-SH04, hit the Japanese market in November 2000. Sprint introduced the Sanyo SCP-5300, the first cellcam available to American users.

This first cellcam took low resolution video graphics array (VGA) pictures, using more efficient, lower-power complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor(CMOS) imaging chips instead of the charge coupled device(CCD) chips found inside most digital cameras. The poor quality of the images and extremely slow transmission times over 14.4 Kilobytes/second (KBPS) cell data networks didn't dampen consumer enthusiasm for the convenience, and cellphone manufacturers were soon finding it difficult to sell a phone that didn't include a camera.

The convenienceof always having a camera in one's pocket and being able to instantly transmit it's pictures to anyone has made the cellcam the most ubiquitous device in history

  • 2001 Cellcam U.S. unit sales: 0
  • 2010 Cellcam U.S. unit sales: 80 Million

Future :

In late 2008, Motorola and Kodak combined to create the MOTOZINE ZN5, a truly merged cellphone/digital camera sold by T Mobile. While it took arguably the best picture of any cellcam before or since, the ZN5 didn't sell as well as experts believed it would. But as cell networks continued to speed up especially with the expected introduction of speedy broadband 4G networks in 2010-11, cameras on cellphones will not only be snapping and sending high resolution photos, but also high definition video recordings. As the still and video capabilities of cellphone cameras improve, digital camera makers will be forced to add cell connectivity to compete, future blurring the line between the two products.

Cell Phone Applications

AT&T has become a victim of its own success with IPhone. At the end of the last year, IPhone accounted for 55% of all mobile web traffic in United States. AT&Ts network often slowed to a crawl, angering users and creating a public relations nightmare. AT&T, along with all carriers, is banking on next generation 4G networks, which use analog TV bandwidth recovered during the digital television transition.

4G networks promise wider wireless pipes and broadband speeds twice to ten times as fast as current EV-DO and HSPA 3G networks, giving all open operating system smartphones more cyber elbow room and enabling a host of new features, such as real time video calls, high definition video clip transmission, and powerful new applications and functions not yet envisioned.

Digital Music

While Apple still commands more than 70% of the digital music player market, the IPods dominance may soon be eclipsed by its sibling, the IPhone. And as memory capacity grows in exact opposition to its shrinking price, digital compression, the original impetus creating the digital music industry, may soon become an anachronism. Many online music sites, including ITunes, have already moved from 128 KBPS compressed tracks to higher quality 256 KBPS and more. But ITunes also may have reached its zenith. Amazon's platform agnostic MP3 download site is being to cut into ITunes' share, as are the growing popularity of Internet radio stations- Local Stations from around the world streaming their signals through the Internet.

DVD / Blue-Ray

While Blu-ray won the high-def disc battle, it now is in a second contest with nonphysical formats, such as PC downloads, streaming, and video on demand. Instead of fighting, however, its hardware makers are selling players that enables consumers to access content from the Internet. But with so many virtual high-definition avenues available, will consumers continue to turn away from prepackaged physical media?

2000 DVD Player Sales: 8.5 million

2010 DVD/Blu-ray Player Sales: 23.5 million


After just a couple of years of being in vogue, dedicated personal navigation devices(PNDs) are quickly giving way to navigation applications for smartphones, such as the iPhone and phones running the Google Android operating system. Cell phones offer one major advantage over dedicated PNDs: their connection to the cellular network. This enables Assisted GPS, or A-GPS, which supplements GPS triangulation with cell-tower triangulation, to provide faster and more precise data for location-based applications than satellites can supply alone, Cell connectivity also enables the navigation software to update itself continually with new information on roads and "points of interest"-restaurants with current menus; gas stations with up-to-the-minute price-per-gallon data; local theatres listing current show times; banks; hospitals; and more-and, perhaps most critical for drivers, local traffic updates. Thanks to these capabilities, navigation software for smart-phones is now often more sophisticated than even the most capable dedicated device.

  • 2000 Portabe and Transportable GPS Unit Sales: 107,000
  • 2010 Portable and Transportable GPS Unit Sales: 15.6 million

Social Networking

Some of the greatest growth in Social Networking comes from relatively closed or restrictive societies. There are now, for instance, more than 125 million Chinese social networking subscribers. Social networking usage demographics everywhere have radically shifted over the last few years as older users flock to what was once the province of tweens and teens; the numbers of seniors joining Facebook has grown 53 percent in the last two years. With more and more connected HDTVs and Blu-ray players making their way into the world's homes, social networking may not be confined to the PC or the Cell phone. In the Future it may see an ever more intense blurring g of previously disparate cyber activities, such as e-mail, video, photo posting, and text broadcasts. For instance, the new concept of Google wave combines e-mail, multimedia, and multiuser collaboration to organize virtual parties or create virtual work spaces. Conversely, some social networking backlash has occurred as inundated users suddenly find themselves either over networked or bothered by people they have no interest in keeping in contact with. At the end of 2009, the New Oxford American Dictionary reflected this antisocial trend when it named "unfriend" as its word of the year.

  • 2002 Facebook Active Users: 0
  • 2010 Facebook Active Users: 350 million


Portable PCs now come with screens in nearly every size between 10 and 17 inches. While all laptops grow more powerful with longer-lasting batteries, the future of portable computing may not be in the familiar clamshell-screen laptop configuration. For instance, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and other open application smartphones are now considered powerful pocket computers. But tablet computers (flat clipboard-like portables whose large touchscreens have replaced keyboards), which combine multimedia, communication, e-book, and computing functions, are thought to be the next wave of portable computing. The age of tablet computing has been predicted for more than a decade, but the few all-screen models to have made it to store shelves have failed to catch on. What's been lacking is a so-called killer app, a functionality to match its form factor, and input options, such as a capacitive touchscreen not requiring a stylus, true handwriting recognition, or speech-to-text capabilities to replace the QWERTY keyboard.

Designers recognize that a tablet has to be something more than a PC with a touchscreen sans a physical keyboard. Hopes for a tablet breakthrough have been vested in Apple, which will reportedly introduce a revolutionary tablet dubbed iPad in the next few months. The iPad has been described as a giant iPhone but running an unknown operating system and possibly revolutionary functions including e-books and e-magazines. Apple's reputation for innovation has ratcheted up expectations for tablet breakthrough. But the conundrum remains- what is the perfect screen-size?

  • 2003 Laptop Computer Sales: 7.3 million
  • 2010 Laptop Computer Sales: 21.5 million


As with many similarly compelling devices, once someone bought a single DVR they want to affix one to every TV they owned. More and more, cable and telephone video services such as Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-Verse are offering networked multiform DVRs, which let consumers record a show on a box in one room and watch it from a second box in another. Networking also enables DVR owners to program recordings via cell phone or the Web- and even watches recorded shows remotely. As the price of memory keeps dropping, cable companies can offer DVRs with larger hard drives. But the future DVR may include no hard drives at all. Cable companies have been experimenting with "cloud DVRs", remote storage that a user would access via the Internet to program and watch recordings not only from a TV but from a wide number of devices.

  • 2001 DVR Unit Sales: 249,000
  • 2010 DVR Unit Sales: 18 million


E Ink screens might be low-power, but they're also low-contrast. Depending on the level of available ambient light, some thin fonts are difficult to make out on the E Ink matte green/gray background. Efforts are under way not only to increase contrast but also to add color, which E Ink expects to announce sometime this year. Between Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and all the public-domain books that Google has been scanning, there are more than 2 million e-books available and tens of thousands more join the market every month. Several other companies also are at work to create a viable e-book reader and format for e-textbooks that preserve print-version pagination for cross-referenced notes. In addition, Last December, several magazine publishers including Coned Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corporation, and Time Inc. announced a digital e-magazine reading and subscription platform.

But E Ink's near-monopoly of e-book screen technology could be short-lived. Apple has been widely reported to be readying a tablet PC dubbed the iPad, described as being a giant iPhone and likely to include e-book and e-magazine reading capabilities. Given Apple's track record for technical, business-model, and marketing innovation, the industry is anxious to see what effect the iPad will have on how consumers buy and read e-books.

  • 2001 E-book Unit Sales: 0
  • 2010 E-book Unit Sales: 26.6 million

Big-Screen Plasma TV

Only three companies-Panasonic, LG, and Samsung-continue to make and sell plasma HDTVs, which means that the future looks bad for the original flat-plasma TV technology. Plasma could hold on as several HDTV makers, including Panasonic, prepare to introduce 3D HDTVs in the fall of 2010. By then, even LCD models may be facing competition. Several HDTV makers have been experimenting with the superior OLED (organic light-emitting display) technology, which offers bright screens with more vibrant colors and using less power than either plasma or LCD. But OLED's history is similar to the development of LCD-it's currently too expensive in larger sizes. But as with LCD, economies of scale and further development are bound to solve that problem.

  • 2001 Flat-panel HDTV Units Sold: 860,000
  • 2010 Flat-panel HDTV Units Sold: 31.5 million