Magazine article Information Today

Compound Documents, Multimedia, and Edible Information

Magazine article Information Today

Compound Documents, Multimedia, and Edible Information

Article excerpt

Focus on Imaging

Compound Documents, Multimedia, and Edible Information

Think of multimedia. What comes to mind are video, graphics, photos, sound, text, and numerical data. Yet today, multimedia really is "compound information processing, and an expensive plethora of applications destined to unravel all systems architectures, from operating systems to LANs to DBMs to spreadsheets," said Raimund Wasner, senior VP, BIS CAP International, during Imaging '90.

Imaging, the compound document, and multimedia received intense attention during the Imaging '90 Conference and Exhibition held last October in New York City.

A new computer imaging event established to serve the New York Metropolitan area--said to be the country's largest document management market--Imaging '90 featured displays of cutting-edge document storage and retrieval products and technology. The conference was held jointly with the Info '90 show and exhibition.

Semantics and Perceptions

The terms "compound documents," "compound information processing," and "multimedia" are often used interchangeably. Each claims as its territory the integration of a wide variety of information contained in multiple formats and from a variety of sources into a unified information system. While the word multimedia has been around for a while, the new perception is that the document is changing from static to dynamic with the inclusion of voice, video, and real-time data, explained William E. Clinton, director, Compound Document Services, BIS CAP International.

The compound dynamic document throws a whole new and challenging perspective not only on information content, preparation, storage, and distribution but also its access, retrieval, and transfer over networks. As the planners of Online Information '90, held in December in England, predicted, we're just beginning to realize the full potential and the problems inherent in multimedia documents and its changing perception from static to dynamic.

Issues raised by multimedia or compound documents, according to Clinton, are:

Information: source, generation technology, formats, standards, integration Technology: investments, integration, standards, interoperability Process: creation, revision, exchange, management Industry: productivity, competitive advantage, investments, technology directions, information access/Management

Mapping Your Information

One Imaging '90 exhibit that intrigued me was desktop mapping. Computer mapping technology has been around for many years; it's often called GIS--Geographical Information Systems. Until recently it was available only on mainframe or minicomputer systems. While those systems still have a place, mapping systems have now moved to microcomputers.

An estimated 85 percent of databases are said to contain some sort of geographic information, such as cities, states, or zip codes, even telephone numbers with their area codes and exchange numbers. Even if you have a conventional bibliographic database, you might want to investigate using desktop mapping to analyze some of the information in or related to that database. For example, look where organizations producing most of the work on a topic are located. See where things are rather than just what they are.

"The points on the map are linked to information in your database," explained the Map Info people. "When you change the database, the information on the map changes. When you change the map, the information in the database changes." There's much more to say about this system than editorial space allows.

The Technical Challenges of Multimedia

Multimedia poses several technical challenges. In an August 1990 "Overview of Multimedia Computing," DataPro a McGraw-Hill publication, listed these challenges as Storage Issues, Compression, Faster Processing, and Resolution and Standards.

Storage: The success of multimedia applications is linked to the evolution of efficient optical storage methods. …

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