Multimedia

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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- 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
information.

 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 useless.

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