Multi-Media Publishing


Desk at Rustproof Records

When I was in college, the notebook or the typewriter was the medium used to write term papers.  Multi-media meant combining one or more medium with another.  That meant, for example, gluing or taping pictures to the written document or combining the projection of still photographic images with music.  During and post-college I produced multi-media “slide shows” which were individual projected images accompanied by a sound track. 

Very soon after this, the personal computer became available, and soon after that the internet.

Today, multi-media means much more than it did during my college days.  When I or another blogger or any online source publishes text, we can combine those words with music, video, pictures, etc.  I like simple presentations, so in many ways I despise today’s multi-media.  When I  am reading, I don’t want to be distracted by other media.  Websites that automatically play music don’t stay long in my browser.  When I click on a newspaper article, I don’t want to see moving animation unless it is directly connected to the article.  Much of today’s multi-media takes the form of advertising which I particularly wish to avoid.

I recently read an article from the New Yorker.  I found it interesting, but lengthy, so I printed it to read later.  Although the piece was interesting, it referred to embedded video which I could not view in the printout.  I printed a newspaper article about spiders for my files. It had two illustrations.  However they were presented as an animated slide show, so only one of the illustrations appeared in the print out; not the one I particularly wanted.  In each case, I was left wanting.

What does this mean?  Have we become a paperless society?  Future news and information will be read on devices like the Kindle or the Fire or any tablet or phone or computer that pulls video, still images, and music from the web to your device.  Is this better or worse or indifferent.

Let’s start with better.  Never a cognitive morning reader, I found a better way to read the poem: have a professional read it to me.  I always have trouble with some punctuation marks: semi-colons and long dashes.  I was able to find a site that not only made it clear, but read sentences so I could hear the difference.  Graphics, video, and audio files all add to our understanding.

Now for the worse.  I’m tired of being bombarded with pictures and music that add nothing to the text or detract from it.  Some of these are ads; some are simply irrelevant to the text.  You have all heard the webpage that has “stupid” music playing in the background, or the page with pictures that have nothing to do with the article or blog you are reading.  That is one reason why my blog posts contain few pictures.

As for the indifferent, this is more a perspective of the reader/listener than the web designer.  After awhile we learn to tune out all but the most obnoxious tunes, pictures, and videos.  Or if one site annoys, we’ll find what we want on another.

So, embrace the multi-media that improves your experience and when you do think about what life would be like without it and give thanks for these small, but significant advances in technology.

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