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Multimedia a critical introduction
By Richard Wise
Published in 2000 by Routledge
228pp ISBN 0 415 12151 5 13.99

Multimedia a critical introduction

"the great innovations of information processingwere not so much machines as procedures: standardisation, interchangeable parts, printed forms, record keeping, regularity, management and marketing." p190

This book is not about how to create multimedia but how multimedia was created - indeed at times it has a great feel of excitement as it describes how the necessary technologies and cultures converge and conjoin. It does, as the blurb states, 'provide a historical, cultural and political context'.

I guess that much of this material originated as teaching sessions and the written style still maages to deliver the enthusiasm that the author must have for this topic.

The book considers the early origins, the use by the military (for aircraft simulations and image analysis), the emergence of hypercard and CDROM, and the move to broadcast multimedia via satellite and cable. All the time this is backed by the commercial and political events driving these developments.

With evidence backed up by a large collection of references it is a good read both for the academic and for the layperson with an interest. In addition it will be of use to those researching this area in IT or educational contexts. It may also prove helpful to those with an Art history interest who are following how the video and computer based media are affecting their subject.

A fairly specialist read but probably a good book for the college bookshelf (especially at this price).

Neil Stanley
Reviews Editor