Multimedia: A Critical Introduction is a comprehensive guide to the new media form which has resulted from the application of computer technology to existing techniques of broadcasting and telecommunications transmission. The rapid growth of multimedia technologies such as the internet, e-mail and digital television holds the promise of a new 'information age' in which individual tastes are catered for, citizens become better informed, and new wealth is created. But are new media technologies really designed to achieve these utopian aims?
Multimedia: a critical introduction provides a historical, cultural and political context to the development of multimedia, as both a technology and a concept. Individual chapters address:
* the origins of multimedia in the unlikely interaction between the military and 1960s counter-culture: how the phenomenal US budgets allocated to US military research resulted in the microchip, and why the efforts of counter-culture computer hobbyists evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry.
*the wider democratic and cultural implications of multimedia in the wake of the deregulation of the media industries by 'new right' governments in the 1980s, which has led to the domination of the media by transnational conglomerates.
* issues of privacy and censorship in relation to new media, including discussion of cryptography, electronic surveillance, and attempts to regulate material such as pornography on the internet.
* the use of digital technology to create special effects in feature films.
Richard Wise is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Media Arts at the University of Luton.
' ... highly readable with a clear and approachable language, and expresses its key arguments without overly complicated rhetoric a good provider of background and context for students embarking on practical multimedia computing courses.' - OutLine, Winter 1999/2000