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Nic Singh December '96 A Discussion on Multimedia 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 computer. 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 publishing. 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 users. 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 student 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- en

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