Multimedia (1653 words) Essay

Multimedia, or mixed-media, systems offer
presentations that integrate
effects existing in a variety of formats,
including text, graphics,
animation, audio, and video. Such presentations
first became commercially
available in very primitive form in the
early 1980s, as a result of advances
that have been made in digital compression
technology– particularly the
difficult area of image compression. Multimedia
online services are
obtainable through telephone/computer
or television links, multimedia
hardware and software exist for personal
computers, networks, the internet,
interactive kiosks and multimedia presentations
are available on CD-ROMs and
various other mediums. The use of multimedia
in our society has it benefits
and it’s drawbacks, most defiantly. Some
of the more computer-related uses of
multimedia, such as electronic publishing,
the internet, and computers in
education will be discussed in depth thought
this paper.

Electronic publishing is the publishing
of material in a computer-accessible
medium, such as on a CD-ROM or on the
Internet. In a broader sense of the
term it could also include paper products
published with the aid of a desktop
publishing program, or any form of printing
that involves the use of a

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Reference works became available
in the mid-1980s both in CD-ROM format and
online. Increasingly, in the 1990s, magazines,
journals, books, and
newspapers have become available in an
electronic format, and some are
appearing in that format only. Companies
that publish technical manuals to
accompany their other products have also
been turning to electronic

Electronic books have been recently
introduced to the world as a whole. This
new concept is the use of internet or
otherwise computer technology to
electronically convert books to a digital,
readable format viewed on a
television set or computer screen. This
would most likely be done by scanning
in individual pages in a book, arrange
them in orderly fashion, and have
users be able to cycle back and forth
between the photo-identical pages. This
method would be very quick, and very easy
to accomplish- that is- scanning
pages as opposed to re-typing millions
of words is preferred. This brings us
to another method in electronic book production-
the interactive method. In
digital format, the book’s pages can only
be viewed, just like a book. If a
reader would want to take notes from a
book, he/she would have to write down
the notes by hand, or would be forced
to photo-copy the page(s). If the book
was typed out entirely as would be done
by an electronic word processor such
as Microsoft Word, users would greatly
benefit. The ability for the computer
to recognize the words on the screen as
actual words as opposed to mere
bitmaps is often unrealized to the computer
non-familiar. This recognition
allows the page to be edited with complete
interactivity and ease- again like
Microsoft Word. Books can be updated or
corrected in real time, without
having to re-upload corrected pages, or
compensate for unalignment in words
and page breaks. Perhaps the most beneficial
to the user is the
interactivity- the ability to interact
with the words in the book. By
highlighting letters on the page, copying
them, and pasting them in personal
clipboards or other word processing programs,
the tedious task of note-taking
can be eliminated. This idea, on the other
hand, can raise issues with the
author and publisher of the book. Plagiarism,
already a problem, would run
wild in this area. Users would theoretically
be able to copy entire books or
magazines to their personal files, and
be able to use them as their own
reports or writings. Additionally, the
ability to view a book and it’s
contents at no charge obviously will not
agree with some publishers. This
also brings up the idea of charging people
for time “online.” Users could be
charged money for use of electronic books/magazines
on a time basis. This,
however, will not go over well in the
public domain. We would rather take on
the trouble of taking manual notes than
be charged for something that is
otherwise free at a library.

In a very short time the Internet
has become a major vehicle of worldwide
communication and an unrivaled source
of information. One of the Internet’s
fascinations is that its resources are
limited only by the number of
computers participating in the World Wide
Web and the imaginations of their

The Internet is an international
web of interconnected government,
education, and business computer networks-
in essence, a network of networks.

From a thousand or so networks in the
mid-1980s, the Internet had grown to
about 30,000 connected networks in mid-1994.

By mid-1995 the number of
networks had doubled to more than 60,000,
making the Internet available to an
estimated 40 million people worldwide.

The Internet owes its unusual design
and architecture to its origins in the
US Defense Department’s ARPANET project
in 1969. Military planners wanted to
design a computer network that could withstand
partial destruction (as from a
nuclear attack) yet still function as
a network. They reasoned that
centralized control of the data flow through
one or a few hub computers would
leave the system too open to attack. Every
computer on the network should be
able to communicate, as a peer, with every
other computer on the network.

Thus if part of the network was destroyed,
the surviving parts would
automatically reroute communications through
different pathways. Because many
factors–power outages, overtaxed telecommunications
lines, equipment
failure–can degrade a network’s performance,
the ARPANET solution was also
attractive to networkers outside the military.

The Internet is also a repository
of information for businesses. Thousands
of discussion groups with specialized
interests–in topics ranging from
aeronautics to molecular biology–share
data across the Internet. The US
government posts more and more information,
such as Commerce Department data
and new patent filings, on the Internet.

Additionally, many universities are
converting large libraries to electronic
form for distribution on the
Internet. One of the most ambitious examples
is Cornell University’s ongoing
project to convert 100,000 books, printed
over the past century, on the
development of American infrastructure-
books on bridges, roads, and other
public works.

Some businesses have also begun to
explore advertising and marketing on the
Internet. Thus far results have been mixed.

Protection of copyrighted
material is a problem, because anyone
can download data from the Internet.

Some companies have explored encrypting
data for sale on the Internet,
providing decoding keys only to buyers
of the data, but this scheme will not
prevent the buyers from repackaging and
reselling the data. However, the
companies are very reluctant to deny the
lure the internet generates. Any
customer from around the world could log
on to a company site, get
information in seconds, and even order
directly through the company’s server.

The recent development in modem speeds
have also allowed businesses to
elaborately cram web sites with spectacular
multimedia effects, drawing
surfers in young and old. Advertising
on the internet is relatively cheap
(compared to television) and is very specialized
and often more effective.

Companies can choose to advertise on certain
high hit rate sites that pertain
to that company’s field. This makes the
advertisement seen by more of it’s
target audience, and as a result, the
advertisement will be more effective.

The explosive growth of the Internet
has been fueled by individual users
with modem-equipped personal computers.

Most of these users subscribe to
local networks that provide a connection
to the wider Internet. As well, a
lot of users (including myself) choose
to use direct-connection service
providers. Unlike separate networks like
AOL, the direct service providers
often have less users, thus increases
the speed of the T1 connection. Many
users, as well as businesses, can create
their own “home pages”- points of
access that allow anyone on the Internet
to download information from the
personal computer. The prime cause of
the Internet explosion, however, has
been the development of the World Wide
Web service: a collection of several
thousand independently owned computers,
called Web servers, that are
scattered worldwide. Using software programs
such as Mosaic and Netscape,
individuals can enter the World Wide Web
and “browse” or “surf” the Internet
with increasing ease and rapidity through
a system of hypertext links. This
is perhaps the most exiting part about
the internet. You can visit any
website you like, wherever it is located
at no extra charge, and download
files and view great multimedia effects
at any time. Though greatly
over-hyped as the “Information Superhighway,”
the Internet will become
increasingly more interactive and will
play a much more significant role in
the future.

Since their introduction in schools
in the early 1980s computers and
computer software have been increasingly
accessible to students and
teachers–in classrooms, computer labs,
school libraries, and outside of
school. By the mid-1990s there were about
4.5 million computers in elementary
and secondary schools throughout the United
States. Schools buy Macintosh and
IBM-compatible computers almost exclusively
(though mostly Macs, dang it!!),
although nearly half of their computers
are based on older designs such as
the Apple IIe. Students spend on the average
an hour per week using school
computers. Though this depends on the
Computers can be used for learning
and teaching in school in at least four
ways. First, learning involves acquiring
information. Computers- especially
linked to CD-ROMs and video disks that
electronically store thousands of
articles, visual images, and sounds- enable
students to search the electronic
equivalent of an encyclopedia or a video
library to answer their own
questions or simply to browse through
fascinating and visually appealing

Second, learning involves the development
of skills like reading and
mathematics- skills that are greatly learned
on computers in basic forms.

Software called computer-assisted instruction,
or CAI, asks questions to
students and compares each answer with
the single correct answer- a very
basic program. Typically, such programs
respond to wrong answers with an
explanation and another, similar problem.

Sometimes CAI programs are embedded
in an entertaining game that holds student
interest and yet keeps student
attention on academic work. Most CAI programs
cover quite limited material,
but some larger-scale reading and mathematics
programs have been developed.

Third, learning involves the development
of a wide variety of analytic
understandings. Computers help students
reach these goals through software
such as word processors , graphing and
construction tools, electronic
painting and CAD programs, music composition
programs, simulations of social
environments, and programs that collect
data from science laboratory
equipment and aid in analysis.

Finally, a large topic in learning
is communicating with others–finding and
engaging an audience with one’s ideas
and questions. Several types of
computer software can be used in schools
for communications: desktop
publishing and image-editing software
for making professional-quality printed
materials, computer programming languages
such as BASIC or Pascal or C for
creating interactive computer exercises,
and telecommunications software for
exchanging ideas at electronic speeds
with students in other classrooms all
over the world.

The computer in education can pose
great benefits to the student, but to a
limited extent. The computer must be used
as a tool, and not as a teacher. It
should be thought of as an educational
assistant (in the school setting) and
not a game machine. Computers have unlimited
possibilities, and we should
incorporate them into our schools. But
in doing this, we must realize that
computers should not be the main focus,
education and the quality of the
teachers should be. For any case, without
solid teaching and instruction,
computers and other such resources become


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