Decoding Multimedia from A to Z

By Gregory, Gwen | Information Today, March 1999 | Go to article overview

Decoding Multimedia from A to Z


Gregory, Gwen, Information Today


Gwen Gregory is assistant professor and head of bibliographic services at New Mexico State University Library, Las Cruces. She can be reached via e-mail at ggregory@lib.nmsu.edu.

This new book will help professionals to get on the same wavelength

What is multimedia? We have certainly heard plenty about it in the past few years. Interactive CD-ROMs serve many uses, from childrens' entertainment to detailed aircraft mechanics' manuals. Millions of World Wide Web sites are available in libraries, homes, and offices. Digital videodiscs, or DVDs, provide electronic access to entire movies. Soon we may regularly use other media such as interactive fictions and virtual reality. In order to understand the implications for information professionals, we need to understand what multimedia is, what it can do, and how it may develop in the future. Multimedia and the Web from A to Z can certainly help us in that daunting task.

The authors are respected experts in the multimedia field. Patrick Dillon works for IBM designing and developing multimedia training systems. David Leonard is assistant dean of Mercer University's School of Engineering, where he specializes in technical communications. Both have developed educational programs for delivery through the Internet. In their introduction to this book, the authors suggest that "... interactive forms of multimedia appear destined to stand in the same relationship to the twenty-first century as film and video have in our own." This monumental change is already taking place with the amazing growth of the Web and CD-ROM technology. However, digitization of audio, video, and images will require gigantic amounts of computer storage space and transmission bandwidth. For example, "... an hour of uncompressed, TV-quality video requires approximately the amount of storage that one would expect to find handling the entire data processing needs of a medium-sized corporation." Computers and sto rage must continue to grow exponentially to support multimedia applications. It will probably take some time for the necessary hardware and bandwidth to be commonly available. However, the multimedia industry will continue to develop and take advantage of new capabilities as they are available.

Dillon and Leonard see three segments to the multimedia market: home, school, and business. Library and information technology may fit into any of these, depending on the user and purpose. The authors give credit to librarians for an early understanding of the information overload problem, and suggest, "History may well record that the first decade of the next millenium earned the headlines: 'Revenge of the Librarians."' However, the rise of multimedia seems inevitable. With it comes ". …

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