Friday, 17 February 2012

Interactive Media: what's that?

This term still poses problems for definition because the technology enabling interactivity keeps evolving. Here we are in 2012 with computerised access to the web: including social media sites and gaming, interactive phones and interactive television. But looking at the technology alone doesn't give all the answers either. Many feel that the interactive bit is all about the user experience not the technology features. The integration of text, audio and graphical information that users can control is now taken for granted, when once this wasn't the case.

There are spin-off areas of note that depend on fields of interactivity too. So we get ludology. Yeah really! This is the study of the interactive gaming experience based on the Latin ludus for game. See Ludology.org’s blog What is ludology? A provisory definition. Forget luddites (as in workers against technology) here which is where I started unfortunately.

Then there's media literacy. This looks at how people relate to and absorb interactive information instead of static information - and the information can be any media-based content. For an introduction, see Media Literacy in an interactive age by Art Silverblatt (July 2000).

But even all this doesn't encompass the reach of interactive media. Skillset have tried hard to segment the interactive sector into groupings that demonstrate its pervasive nature. They talk in terms of creators, enablers, clients and end-users. See Our definition of the Interactive Media and Computer Games Industries, for a useful overview of how they see the movement in the UK.

The user experience has proved to be a driving force, since positive interaction can lead to more time spent, more receptivity to what's on offer, better sales and brand awareness, among other key drivers. Facit Digital in Germany seem to have a strong view on this type of interaction at: www.facit-digital.com.

If you belong to back-end, harder-core computing, you might feel left out. Not at all. Your contribution is as key as the rest of this multi-disciplined sector. You only need to look at the incredible breadth and depth of the areas that need you in the call for papers from the IEEE Multimedia 2012 to appreciate that – Multimedia Systems and Architecture, Multimedia Communications and Streaming, Multimedia Content Understanding, Modeling, Management and Retrieval, Multimedia Coding, Processing and Quality Measurement, Multimedia Interfaces, Multimedia Security and Multimedia Applications. Shame it's still called multimedia but that means interactive media, right? See ism.eecs.uci.edu/ISM2012.

Well, it's true we haven't really defined social media within this romp through interactive areas. So to put this right we hand over to Heidi Cohen, May 2011, who has gathered 30 such definitions. Tickle the brain cells more at heidicohen.com.


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