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Multimedia developers can learn from the history of human communication

Ubiquity, Volume 2000 Issue October, October 1 - October 31, 2000 | BY Robert S. Tannenbaum 


Full citation in the ACM Digital Library

From the fire circle to the theatre to the computer screen, effective techniques enhance the message.

I have long believed that a multimedia presentation is fundamentally no different from any other form of human communication; ideas and information are being transmitted between human beings, what has been called "linear communication" since the seminal work of Shannon and Weaver. 2 Biocca stated this concept quite clearly: "All computer-based interactivity is a form of interaction with other humans, even when none are present. The human essence of the programmers and designers remains resident in the logic of the artificial interaction, even though they are not there." 3 Therefore, to be able to create effective multimedia, we need to consider what constitutes effective human communication, regardless of the medium. A review of the history of those forms of human communication that employ more than one medium can be beneficial for a multimedia developer.

People have been communicating with each other for hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of years. Whenever possible, the initiator of the communication has employed whatever additional methods were available to enhance the communication and make it as effective as possible. So, for example, modern storytellers, as perhaps ancient ones did, use their hands to illustrate the action and create sound effects to emphasize or portray more realistic scenes. As further examples, stage plays and their derivatives, such as opera and movies, normally include costumes and scenery to enhance and further the communication.

Glenn Ochsenreiter stated this thesis as follows: "The implementation of multimedia capabilities in computers is the latest episode in a long series: cave painting, hand-crafted manuscripts, the printing press, radio and television . . . These advances reflect the innate desire of man [and woman] to create outlets for creative expressions, to use technology and imagination to gain empowerment and freedom for ideas." 4

Over the millennia, people have learned much about what constitutes effective communication and what is less effective. This learning constitutes what is regarded as the art and theory of communication. The definition of what is considered "effective" communication has evolved, also. Those who would create the most effective presentations no matter what the medium are well advised to study and understand this art and theory, rather than to endeavor to reinvent the wheel or, worse, to plow ahead unguided.

Before proceeding, it is necessary to define the term "multimedia" as it will be used in this article. "Multimedia" has become a catchword -- almost a clich�' -- a necessary advertising term, employed to ensure increased sales of products having any conceivable connection with graphics or sound presentations on a computer. In such imprecise usage, the term is so nonspecific that almost any computer output qualifies, if the author or copywriter chooses. Charles B. Wang has described "multimedia" rather cynically as follows:

Multimedia, one of the hottest buzzwords in the industry for the last few years, is just a fancy name for something that combines the capabilities of technologies that used to be separate. Multimedia simply mixes into the PC the functions of these components, combining elements like text, graphics, sound, and still or motion pictures in a smooth way to present training or information. 5

Other terms such as "hypermedia," "mixed media," "interactive multimedia," and "multiple media" are sometimes employed as synonyms for multimedia. Many modern presentations include mixtures of two or more media and may in some descriptions be termed multimedia, for example, a poetry reading accompanied by music, a theater play with photographic slides projected as part of the stage set, or a shopping mall map with lighted images of various stores and brief sales pitches for their wares. However, for the purposes of this article, multimedia is defined as: an interactive computer-mediated presentation that includes at least two of the following elements: text, sound, still graphic images, motion graphics, and animation.

This definition is intended to encompass those computer-based programs that combine text, images, and sound in a manner that permits the user to exercise some measure of control over the flow of information. The word "interactive" is of the utmost importance in this definition of multimedia. Too often, the mere combination of two or more modes of presentation, such as text and images, has been termed "multimedia" for public relations or advertising purposes. In the context of this article, for a production to be considered multimedia it must include a provision for the user to interact with the material and influence the course of the presentation. The interaction can be achieved by any combination of inputs to the computer, for example, through a keyboard, a mouse, a joystick, a stylus, or voice recognition. To qualify as interaction, the input must cause the program to select among alternatives for the next material that it presents, not just continue to a predetermined next page ("page turning").

For the successful combination of the various media and technologies, considerable attention must be paid to fundamental principles of effective communication. Given the available technology, it is possible to combine many different types of material, but without careful attention to principles of effective communication, the result will likely be less than optimal, just as when an inexperienced painter mixes several colors without understanding the underlying principles, the result is often an unattractive mess.

One way to study the impact of multimedia is to locate various instructional or educational programs that are not specific courses, for example, an animated story for a child, a multimedia edition of a Shakespearean work, or a multimedia reference work, and then to compare each multimedia program with a traditional version of the same or a similar work. The comparison should include the contribution(s) that multimedia makes to the work, addressing especially how the work is changed (perhaps for the better, perhaps for the worse) by the introduction of multimedia.


Although there is no concrete evidence, it appears likely that people have been telling stories for a very long time, perhaps since speech first developed, which may have been two million or more years ago. It is widely accepted that some of the oldest written stories (for example, the Odyssey, and the earliest books of the old testament), although only several thousand years old, were taken from oral tradition. People sang or chanted stories (using two or more media -- music and text, with perhaps some acting also) in what is termed oral-formulaic verse. The essential book on this subject is even entitled The Singer of Tales. 6

In a study of storytelling in northern Alaska in the 1970s, Rooth found that native storytellers "were acting when they told animal stories. To a great extent, the animal stories get their life and humor from the acting and mimicry of the storyteller, a technique, I will repeat, that requires an upright position as well as light [in contrast to stories told in the dark as people are falling asleep], so that the 'actor' can be seen." 7 Densmore reports that "one old Chippewa woman used to act out her stories, running around the fire and acting while she talked." 8 If this recent storytelling behavior among groups whose cultures had not changed over a long period is in any way indicative of the earliest storytelling, then that is the first example of people using multiple modalities, or media, to enhance their presentations and produce the desired effects in their audiences.

There is now a very direct connection between storytelling and multimedia. A number of children's storybooks have been produced as multimedia programs, generally on CD-ROMs. A child can read the words her- or himself, can listen to them being spoken, can look at the pictures, can see the actions shown in animations, can point to or otherwise indicate special items to be explained in greater depth, and in some cases can even influence the outcome of the story. You may find it instructive to locate what you consider to be a good example of this modern multimedia storytelling. Consider how it is similar to and how it differs from traditional oral storytelling and traditional children's book storytelling. Then consider what multimedia authors can learn from good storytellers and good authors. Furthermore, you might observe a child who is "hearing" the story in its multimedia form. Compare the child's behavior and reactions to those of children who are being told a story by a skilled story teller and to children who are reading a story. This exercise can be used to illustrate some of the strengths and weaknesses of using interactive multimedia for storytelling.


As with storytelling, the objective of theater is to produce a reaction, a feeling, a sense in the audience. Richard Southern, who has written extensively on the theater and its origins, has explained that "the essence of theatre lies in the impression made on the audience." 9 This assessment holds true for all art and all communication. Ultimately, what one wishes to achieve is a change of some particular type in the audience -- a change of mood, an enlightening, an arousal of sympathy, or whatever. This attention to audience, rather than to the self of the communicator (the actor) and to the content of the message (the script), is key to the creation of effective communication.

Although it is absolutely central to the effectiveness of theater, the ability of a great actor to seize upon the emotions of the audience and to use those emotions and the audience's responses and reactions to bring about the desired effect will not be considered here. Successful live theater, as contrasted with cinema or multimedia, for example, is the result of the interaction of the live actor and the audience, with the actor responding to and using the audience to achieve the purpose of the presentation. A crucial difference between theater and multimedia productions is this presence of live actors in the theater. It can be useful for a developer to consider this difference and its implications for multimedia, particularly the forms of interactivity that are facilitated or limited by the presence or absence of live actors.

Successful teaching is, in some ways, analogous to live theater. The teacher must interact with and respond to the audience, that is, the students. Although multimedia is interactive, the interactions are primitive, merely functional, compared to those between actor and audience, which are on the emotional level. Until such time as computer scientists have achieved infinitely more sophisticated artificial intelligence in multimedia programs, developers will not be able to achieve the actor's control of the audience.

Some other aspects of theater that have developed over thousands of years and serve to strengthen the delivery of the presentation should be considered. According to Southern, the theater has evolved through several phases. These phases have occurred at different times in different cultures, and not all phases have occurred in all cultures. The details in various cultures are not significant to the purpose here. What is of interest is the gradual enhancement of the performer's ability to create in the audience the desired transformation by means of the addition of various elements (or media).

The earliest theater arose from community or tribal rituals, celebrated in gatherings of people (an audience), at which an individual (an actor) arose from the group to take a leading role. At first, the actor used no other accouterments but his or her own voice and body and mind to convey the message to the members of the audience and to endeavor to create the desired effect upon them. At some time, the actor began to add elements to him- or herself -- costumes, masks, and props (such as musical instruments or weapons). These elements were designed to obscure the self and to enhance the illusion of other; the actor was no longer merely a person telling or dramatizing a story but began to become a part of the story.

There is often a certain tension between the actor's need for ego fulfillment and the goal of blending into the story completely and creating a certain experience within the members of the audience. The selfish behavior of the actor as star or of one actor upstaging another can serve to undermine the effect of the presentation and its impact upon the audience. It is the responsibility of the director to ensure that actors do not behave in this manner. The analogy for a developer of multimedia is the need to have the elements of the presentation -- the various media -- blend imperceptibly into the whole, becoming a part of the whole, not standing out on their own separately and stridently. A useful exercise is to find and discuss at least one multimedia production in which one of the media upstages all of the rest, in your opinion, to the detriment of the production and, as a contrast, to find and discuss another multimedia production in which the media blend harmoniously to enhance the entire production.

As an example of such blending of actors, consider the movie High Noon (1952), directed by Fred Zinnemann. Gary Cooper is unquestionably the star of the movie. But his performance does not dominate in such a way that the other roles are diminished. Grace Kelly, Katy Jurado, Lon Chaney, Lloyd Bridges, and all of the other actors contribute equally to make the final production much greater than any one of their performances. They achieve and establish the atmosphere and the tension of the film. In contrast, the General (1927), perhaps Buster Keaton's greatest movie, is a brilliant one-man tour de force. No other actor is at all important, and all of the other roles contribute rather little to creating the essence of the movie; they merely seem necessary to the plot. There is little or no blending of their parts into a greater whole; the movie is almost entirely Keaton and his sight gags.

As theater developed, actors invented the stage -- a special space on which to perform, which delineated the presentation and made it stand out from its surroundings. At first, the stage was outside, as theater was almost always an outdoor activity in its earlier phases. However, the gradual development of sets and scenery that could be damaged by inclement weather, as well as the desire to perform in all types of weather and during the dark hours of the day, led to the creation of indoor performance spaces with their own specialized stages.

The creation of the stage and the introduction of scenery served to further strengthen the opportunity to provide a meaningful experience for the audience. The indoor stage, scenery, and lighting led directly to the development of theater as illusion. The creation of an experience of illusion became a powerful addition to the actor's ability to create the desired effect on the audience. There is a clear parallel to the creation in a multimedia presentation of a virtual reality.

Although there are notable exceptions in which there is an attempt to heighten awareness of the theatricality of a whole performance, the objective in the theater for most authors, directors, and actors is to enhance and focus the experience for the audience and to make it as real as possible. For multimedia, the important questions, however, are the extent to which the virtual reality is believable; the extent to which the virtual reality becomes the focus itself, obscuring the desired experience; and the considerably increased cost of creating the virtual reality.

Again, there is a parallel with theater. Some modern theater has evolved to rely much less on physical illusion (for example, minimalist scenery) and more on creating the illusion in the mind of the audience. The same "less is more" approach to some multimedia presentations may prove effective in transmitting some messages, as well as being more cost-effective. A number of elements in theater productions have distinct parallels in a multimedia production, such as the stage, sets, scenery, props, masks, and costumes. A multimedia developer may find it helpful to contemplate the parallels and differences between the use of each of these six elements in the theater and their use in multimedia productions.

The history of the theater is, in itself, an interesting subject. It is also an excellent source of ideas and techniques that can be used to strengthen multimedia productions. The works of Richard Southern provide one of the best, most readable starting points for a study of this history. Brenda Laurel makes clear the relationships between theater and computer interfacing. Her book on Computers as Theatre 10 provides an excellent introduction to the use of principles from the theater in the design of the human aspects of computer software. This book can be quite helpful to multimedia developers in the processes of designing and planning for interactivity.


The development of multimedia in the theater can be seen in the work of choreographer/composer/producer Alwin Nikolais (1910-1993) whose Masks, Props, and Mobiles and succeeding productions from the early 1950s to the middle 1970s ushered in multimedia to the production of dance (without, however, the computer-based interactivity included in the definition of multimedia given previously). Mazo said of Nikolais, "He employed lights, slides, electronic music, and stage props to create environments through which dancers moved, and more important, into which they blended." 11

Interestingly, Nikolais' work was criticized by dance critics at the time as being less concerned with the individual dancers and their movements (the traditional essence of the dance) than with the entire effect of his multimedia production. Depending upon one's perspective, this might be taken as praise, rather than criticism. However, in the past few years, dance like other forms of theater has moved more toward formalism and minimalism in choreography and production; Nikolais' works are now rarely performed, although there are a number of companies that do include multiple media in their productions, such as George Coates' performance works.


Music has played a significant role in civilization as far back as recorded history can tell. There are early references to music in the Bible, for example, and music was a part of classical Greek theater. Music has long been a significant part of religious ritual and pageants. And music has been included in a wide variety of plays, from comedies to tragedies, both as incidental music and in the form of songs. The purpose of the inclusion of music, as with the addition of any other medium, is to enhance the effectiveness of the communication. According to Streatfield.

In any kind of dramatic performance, we can imagine three different functions of music: singing, to express heightened emotion on the part of the actors -- singing being an intensification of poetry just as poetry is an intensification of speech; dance music, which may be vocal or instrumental, according to mere convenience -- including music for processions or any movements which require the rhythm of music to keep them together; and lastly music, generally instrumental, as a background, designed to produce a certain emotional state in the spectators -- for instance, in scenes of magic or for the appearance of supernatural characters. 12

The elaboration of these three basic purposes for the inclusion of music in a dramatic presentation is clearly related to the thesis stated previously regarding the introduction of additional elements to a communication for the express purpose of enhancing it and making it more effective. The ultimate combination of music and drama is in the form of opera. Richard Wagner, for example, made it clear that his intention was to create what amounts to a multimedia experience. His goal may have been achieved in part by the recent release of his Ring Cycle on CD-ROM. These developments in the history of theater are not limited to the West. Consider also the inclusion of music in the Asian theater, such as in No, Kabuki, and Indonesian puppet theater.


The songs in Greek theater or in Shakespeare or in modern musical comedies are usually not strictly realistic representations of the manner in which people commonly communicate. For example, in the musical play Guys and Dolls, when a lead character sings Luck be a Lady Tonight, the audience members do not react negatively to the unreality of a man singing to a pair of dice that he is about to roll in a crap game. Rather, they receive an enhanced sense of the importance of the action and the intensity of his feelings. Another scene of a man singing to his dice occurs in the opera Porgy and Bess, with a similar effectiveness. A further example of singing to an inanimate object occurs in the opera La Boh�me when one of the friends sings nostalgically to his overcoat, which he is about to pawn in order to buy medicine for the heroine.

The music videos that have risen to great popularity in recent years are a further interesting linkage of song and drama. In this instance, the song is the essence of the piece and the video provides images that enhance the message of the words and music. The production and cinematographic techniques employed are often of the highest quality, sometimes with a hundred or more scenes shown in a three-minute video. The finest examples of this genre demonstrate, once again, the power of fusing different media to produce a whole greater than any of the parts. However, the poorer examples demonstrate, by their failure, that when multiple elements are not smoothly integrated and complementary, the different media compete with one another and detract from the presentation.

Music as Communication

It is widely recognized that music has the power to convey meaning and emotion. A number of musicologists (as well as psychologists and philosophers, among others) have studied and written about the power and effects of music and have tried to explain how and why music can have such a profound effect on people. For example, Meyer states that "music may, in short, be experienced as mood or sentiment. . . not only do mood and connotation frequently give rise to affect but they also color and modify the affective experiences evoked by the musical processes." 13 Jourdain reaches a similar conclusion: "Rather than portray events in the world beyond our skin, music seems to reenact experience within the body. This idea is familiar in the adage that music is a 'language of the emotions.' But music seems to go beyond emotion, since much of its pleasure derives merely from perceiving patterns." 14

A heightened sense of the feeling and meaning of a scene in a movie or play (analogous to that in a music video) is often achieved through the inclusion of music for dance such as in a dream scene or a choreographed fight. The music in Indonesian puppet theater is an excellent example of music used to establish feeling and meaning. An even more common example of music to enhance a scene is the use of background or mood music, such as dissonance during a fight or suspense scene, lyricism behind a romantic interlude, or a lilting tune to emphasize gaiety. This genre was highly developed through the accompaniments played live for silent movies. With the introduction of sound tracks, accompaniments became somewhat less obvious but no less important to establishing the mood and conveying the message.

The prevailing theme once again is the use of an additional medium to enhance and strengthen the effect on the audience, to improve the communication. When a piece of music, instrumental or vocal is complete in itself, such as a symphony or a song, that is basically a single medium of expression. However, when the music is integrated with a drama, such as in an opera or a movie, then its value and effectiveness depend on how well it has been composed to serve the main purpose of that drama as opposed to standing alone.

It should be recognized again that when the media are perfectly integrated, the whole presentation is greatly strengthened. But, as with one actor upstaging another, when the music becomes an end in itself, the drama is interfered with. Music can add significantly to a computer-based multimedia piece but not if it becomes the focus of the piece to the exclusion of the primary message.

More and more frequently, multimedia producers are including at least some music in their productions. Unfortunately, not all such inclusion of music enhances the production. It can be quite instructive to locate and study multimedia productions in which music is used in such a way that it strengthens the production, and other multimedia productions in which, in your opinion, the music detracts from (or at least doesn't enhance) the production. Consider carefully what is good and bad about the way the producers have employed the music and what you would suggest to improve its use.

Music can be the key to an effective multimedia production. An important text that may be of great value is Meyer's Emotion and Meaning in Music.13 In addition to enhancing one's enjoyment of music, this book will provide a foundation for considering what music to utilize and how to use it in multimedia productions. Another valuable text is Jourdain's Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy.14 He discusses music from many different points of view, including the physics, psychology, cognitive science, philosophy, listening, and performance perspectives. His analyses may be of considerable value to the enjoyment and use of music in multimedia development.


The use of words and music, together with the various enhancements of stage productions, is certainly not the only way that people have communicated ideas and emotions with each other. Pictures of all sorts have been employed in communication and they constitute the fundamental medium in almost all multimedia productions. Three important basic aspects of pictures have their roots in uses made over many years: the content of the images themselves, whether static or moving; the special effects that are included in the images; and the symbolism evoked by the images.

Graphic images constitute a key element in most multimedia pieces. People have been creating images, both two- and three-dimensional, since long before the dawn of written language. Beautiful examples of cave drawings and early statuary have been discovered and still delight viewers with their portrayals of reality and of the imagination. Early pottery and friezes are replete with images. Over the centuries, people have developed many skills and techniques for drawing, painting, sculpting, and photographing images to convey some message to an audience.

Images have been created both to stand alone and in combination with words, such as in illuminated manuscripts and illustrated texts. Calligraphy, especially in certain languages with elaborate scripts such as Arabic or Hebrew, is an example of using the written word as an image to further enhance the meaning. Some twentieth-century artists, such as Ben Shahn and Eduardo Kac, have employed calligraphic and holographic representations of words in their art, because they constitute a crucial part of the essence of the work.

Most multimedia productions include both images and text. Multimedia producers can learn much from artists who have integrated these two mediums. Much can be gained by studying examples of the integration of text and image from the work of artists such as Shahn (see, for example, http://www.artcyc and Kac (see, considering the art in terms of the message that the artist is trying to convey, the integration of the media, how the text and the image complement and amplify each other, how the artist has styled and shaped the text (font, weight, color, and so on) to work with the image or contrast with it, and how the combination makes a stronger statement than either element could alone. The lessons for multimedia production can be emphasized by comparing and contrasting the artists' integration of text and image with the integration found in one or more specific multimedia productions.

Numerous materials have been employed in the creation of images, including solids such as wood and stone; paints, dyes, pencils, chalk, and so on; and chemicals for many types of photography. Various conventions of style have evolved to help specify and communicate meanings. Theories of form and color have been developed to assist in explaining the (in)effectiveness of various modes of images and to guide artists in their work. Likewise, the field of graphic design has developed methods, conventions, and theories over a long period of time. Multimedia developers should study the principles and practices of art and design to inform and enhance their productions.

Special Effects and Symbolism

The invention of the motion picture in the late nineteenth century opened the way for further integration of various media and the introduction of new techniques. For example, in the early twentieth century, filmmakers began employing what have come to be known as "special effects." Buster Keaton, in addition to his comic genius, was a master of pioneering cinemagraphic effects. Long before the introduction of electronic, computer-based editing such as is now common for multimedia productions, in The Playhouse (1921), Keaton managed to place nine separate images of himself on the same frame, in addition to numerous other multiple exposure effects. In Sherlock Jr. (1924), portraying a projectionist in a movie theater, Keaton falls asleep and dreams that he climbs over the orchestra onto the stage of the theater and, in an amazing special effect, appears to step through the screen and enter into the film that he is projecting.

Symbolism, the practice of using one item -- a phrase, a material object, a description of an event, and so on -- to represent something else, a technique that has been long practiced in literature was also developed extensively in movies. Sergei Eisenstein, the brilliant Russian filmmaker, in addition to his stunning direction and camera work, employed symbolism extensively in such films as The Battleship Potemkin, in which, for example, ages of exploitation and brutalization of the Russian sailors and peasants are represented by single images such as maggot-infested meat and the death of an innocent baby. In Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky, the entire film is symbolic of the relationship of Russia and Germany. It was commissioned to arouse the populace against the threat from Germany and, in fact, because of this it was withheld while the Hitler-Stalin friendship treaty was still in effect.

Symbolism is also a very strong element in some music. For example, Finlandia by Jean Sibelius has extraordinary nationalistic meaning for all Finns, so much so that the Russians governing Finland in the early twentieth century often forbade its performance; many Irish songs were so symbolic of hatred of British rule that the English banned their singing in Ireland; and spirituals and other songs of faith have great emotional effect on those who believe in their religious messages. The inclusion of such music in a movie or other production can instantly, symbolically establish a particular meaning.

Over the years, other media and effects, such as soundtracks, color, wide-screen projection, stereo and surrounding sound, 3-D, and the like have been added in efforts to make the cinema ever more realistic for the audience -- an attempt to create a virtual reality. And special techniques such as animation, slow motion, and computer-generated images and effects have been employed to enhance the entertainment value or the effectiveness of the piece. All of these cinema techniques can be of great value when applied to multimedia presentations, but, once again, only when the technique is employed not for its own sake but to strengthen the production as a whole.

Symbolism and special effects are both extremely important techniques employed in cinema that can be used very effectively in multimedia. Developers may find it helpful to locate examples of the use of both symbolism and special effects in commercially available multimedia, and then to consider these uses and their effectiveness in terms of how they serve to enhance the production, that is how they further the producer's purposes.

The work of the great moviemakers is one of the most important areas that a multimedia producer can study. The techniques of script, cinematography, special effects, and so on that were invented and perfected in the cinema are readily applicable to multimedia. Basic courses in movie history and production can be of great value. In addition, studying books about some of the innovative pioneers in the movies, such as Meade's on Buster Keaton and the several works by and about Sergei Eisenstein, would be an excellent use of a developer's time.


Modern multimedia has its roots in communications methods that are probably as old as human communication itself. Multimedia is fundamentally no different than any other form of human communication. Therefore, it is of value to note the development of the basic forms of human communication and the ways in which people have learned to enhance them. Oral story telling, theater, and dance were all developed to present a story or a message to an audience. Over the millennia, people have discovered, developed, and improved on many techniques that strengthen the communication power of the medium they are using to tell their story. Music, both as a direct and a symbolic means of communication in songs and in background music, was combined with dance and theater to increase the effectiveness of the communication.

Pictorial representations of reality are also a powerful means of communication and the basic medium for a multimedia presentation. Pictures, both still and motion, are used for their content -- for direct communication -- and, with special effects, to emphasize some aspect of the message. Pictures and music can be used as symbols to communicate a message in a powerful but somewhat indirect manner. A key point is the necessity for a symbiotic blending of the various media into a comprehensive whole production. If the different elements do not complement each other but rather tend to compete, the effect will be to diminish rather than to enhance the communication.

Multimedia productions have grown over the last few years from a rather narrow range, devoted primarily to instructional applications, to now encompass almost every conceivable subject. Their range is limited only by the imagination and skill of the developer. The key points are the underlying commonalties and basic theoretical communication foundations that are shared by all multimedia, no matter what the subject matter. Multimedia developers should study the vast experience learned over millennia of what constitutes effective communication in the widest possible range of media to garner lessons to apply to their multimedia productions.

1. Derived from Chapter 1 of Robert S. Tannenbaum, Theoretical Foundations of Multimedia (New York: W. H. Freeman, 1998).

2. Shannon, Claude E., and Warren Weaver. The Mathematical Theory of Communication. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. 1949.

3. Biocca, Frank. "Communication Within Virtual Reality: Creating a Space for Research." Journal of Communications 42(4) Autumn, 1992. pp. 5�22.

4. Ochsenreiter, Glenn. Presentation to the European Software Publishers Association. Cannes, France, June 2, 1992.

5. Wang, Charles B. Techno Vision: The Executive's Survival Guide to Understanding and Managing Information Technology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994.

6. Lord, Albert Bates. The Singer of Tales. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1960. Harvard Studies in Comparative Literature, 24.

7. Rooth, Anna Birgitta. The Importance of Storytelling: A study based on field work in Northern Alaska. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1976.

8. Densmore, F. Chippewa Customs. Washington: Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 86. 1929.

9. Southern, Richard. The Seven Ages of the Theatre. New York: Hill and Wang. 1961.

10. Laurel, Brenda. Computers as Theatre. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1993.

11. Mazo, Joseph H. "Alwin Nikolais (1910�1993): The NIK of Time." Dance Magazine 67(7), July, 1993. p. 28.

12. Streatfield, R. A. The Opera: A Sketch of the Development of Opera. With full Descriptions of all Works in the Modern Repertory. (Fifth Edition, Revised and Enlarged by Edward J. Dent, 1925.) London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Limited. 1948. (First Edition 1896)

13. Meyer, Leonard B. Emotion and Meaning in Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956.

14. Jourdain, Robert. Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1997.

Robert S. Tannenbaum, Ed.D., is director of Academic Computing Services at the University of Kentucky.


Communication Skills is important to every individual. When you need to get something then don't hesitate to come for help to the desk.

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