Mutimedia is any form of content that presents more than one type of media simultaneously.
Forms of media that appear on the web include text, images, audio, video, animations, and interactive website elements. Multimedia is any content on the web that combines these forms of content. In a sense, the web itself can be considered a multimedia experience since virtually all websites today include a combination of video, audio, text, images, and animations.
There are two basic types of multimedia: linear and non-linear. Non-linear media is that which incorporates user activity in the multimedia experience and is particularly prevalent on the web when compared to other mediums. Examples of non-linear media include video games and online tutorials and courses.
The term “multimedia” was first used by Bob Goldstein in 1966 to refer to a show that combined both visual and musical elements. Since that time the term has been used to things as diverse as a timed projector slide show with accompanying audio track as well as to describe the work of political consultant David Sawyer. By 1993, the term had taken on its current meaning and was defined as “any combination of text, graphic art, sound, animation, and video that is delivered by computer” by Tay Vaughan in the McGraw-Hill text Multimedia: Making it Work.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is multimedia content presented on the web?
The very first web browser were text-only applications that could not render images. The next step in browser evolution involved rendering images in a separate browser window. However, the arrival of graphical browsers, most notably Mosaic, combined text and images on a single page to create a multimedia environment which could be hyperlinked to other documents. This innovation ushered in the first massive wave of public adoption of the web, and the birth of the web as more than just a communication platform, but as a virtual space.
Support for other forms of media and multimedia content, such as sound and video, was added much more slowly. Initially, playback for these forms of media was only possible through the use of third-party plugins such as Adobe Flash, Shockwave, Java, and QuickTime. Browsers themselves couldn’t handle these types of content without incorporating these plugins. Also, content had to be formatted properly, and was typically only viewable by using the correct plugin.
Further development of the HTML specification has added support for properly formatted audio and video files directly into the HTML5 specification itself. This has reduced the need for third-party plugins, although some interactive multimedia web applications and games still require plugins.
Is the use of multimedia just for entertainment on the web?
The use of multimedia technologies support interactive features behind key services such as banking and email in addition to forms of entertainment such as streaming video and online games.
Is streaming video a type of multimedia?
Streaming video incorporates video images, sound, and sometimes also includes text. By definition, streaming video is a form of multimedia. However, on the web, this is even more true as video is often used in interactive media-rich applications such as online training programs that include a combination of video presentations and interactive quizzes.