critics of today's multimedia shy away from attempts to identify
a dominant theme behind the emergence of this new medium. They
say that the subject is too various, that it resists a neat
historical frame. In fact, there is a tendency among critics
to celebrate the elusive nature of the subject. Multimedia,
by its very nature, is open, democratic, non-hierarchical, fluid,
varied, inclusive a slippery domain that evades the critic's
grasp just on the verge of definition. But these qualities did
not evolve by happenstance. They were the product of deliberate
intent on the part of multimedia's pioneers, who were aiming
for quite coherent goals.
as there are many possible paths through a network, there are
many potential readings of multimedia's history. In ours, the
key concepts intrinsic to digital forms of multimedia are defined
as: integration, interactivity, hypermedia, immersion
and narrativity. These
five characteristics determine the scope of multimedia's
capabilities for expression; they establish its full potential.
Follow these definitions to see how their characteristics evolved
more or less simultaneously, each following its own tradition
and trajectory and yet inextricably interwoven with the others
in a web of mutual influence.