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EIC's Message: Science, Myths, and Multimedia

Forouzan , Arizona State University

Pages: pp. C2, 1

Are we ready to define the field we refer to as multimedia?

Not so long ago, many associated having a CD-ROM on their computer with multimedia capabilities. You might, for instance, hear someone say, "I just bought a CD-ROM for my computer so that I can do multimedia." Well, that misconception had a fairly short life once we realized that a CD-ROM was just a technological imperative of the time that vaguely addressed the storage issue prevalent then.

We can all agree that times have really changed, but can we agree on what multimedia is as a field and where it should be going? To help us address this, we should discuss what other myths and folklore still exist around our field.

Regardless of what we think it is, I hope we can agree on what our field is not. I suppose we can agree that we aren't the same as image processing and computer vision, even though we may use many of their results. And we aren't digital signal processing, although in the early days we were considered a branch of DSP. Similarly, despite our overlap with computer graphics, human-computer interface, and communications, we consider the field of multimedia to be much more. So what exactly is multimedia?

Let me take another step and make the inquest sharper. Are we ready to define multimedia as a noun, or should we continue to use it as an adjective—one that might be used in conjunction with other terms to make such topics as multimedia systems, multimedia information, multimedia presentations, and so on? After all, we finally learned to use the phrase "object oriented" as an adjective, applicable to many different nouns, each with its own semantics.


I would like to solicit views and opinions from a group of leaders in our field, and present a common perspective in the next issue of IEEE MultiMedia. If you have any reflections on this question that you would like to share with your colleagues, please email me at I'm hoping that the results will be a comprehensive dialogue on this subject.

To allow a dialogue to continue regarding the definition and purpose of multimedia as well as other topics of interest, we have a new department going into MultiMedia. Starting with the January-March 2004 issue, "Readers' Remarks" will appear as a service to you. It's an opportunity for your voices and thoughts to be heard. Letters, emails, and other communications can now be included in this column at the writer's request.


In addition to a new department, we have a few other changes. Several members of the MultiMedia editorial board have completed their terms and, with a great of deal of gratitude, we bid them farewell. They've provided us with much insight, expertise, and help over the years. Those retiring from the editorial board are Andrew Johnson, Peiya Liu, Rajiv Mehrotra, Ishwar Sethi, and Enrico Vicario. The editorial board has asked me to extend its sincere appreciation to these colleagues for their many years of dedicated service to this magazine.

I'd also like to announce that two board members have agreed to step up and shoulder some of the responsibilities for this ambitious magazine. Nevenka Dimitrova is now the Associate Editor in Chief for special issues, and Frank Nack is the Associate Editor in Chief for special projects. They're already busily at work making enhancements to this magazine and its processes.

Amit Sheth is stepping down as the Media Reviews editor, but he's kindly agreed to stay on board and help in other capacities. Another board member, Chang Wen Chen, has agreed to take over the Media Reviews department. Look for his department in the January-March 2004 issue.

We've also acquired a new Standards department editor. Like Peiya Liu, I'm sure the new editor, John R. Smith, will do an outstanding job. We all know that amid the immense diversity in our work field, standards are a binding point to help facilitate interactivity, which is necessary to keep this field thriving.

As the following biographical paragraph shows, John brings a great deal of experience to the Standards department and to our board. We're very pleased to have John with us and we hope you'll extend him a warm welcome, too.

About the Authors

Bio Graphic
John R. Smith is the manager of the Pervasive Media Management Research Group at IBM T.J. Watson Research Center. He's currently the chair of the ISO MPEG multimedia description schemes group and serves as the coproject editor for MPEG-7 multimedia description schemes. His research interests include multimedia databases, content analysis, compression, indexing, and retrieval. Smith received his MS and PhD in electrical engineering from Columbia University. He's a corecipient of the inaugural Multimedia Prize Paper Award given to the best paper in the field of multimedia. He currently serves as the program cochair for ACM Multimedia 2003 and as the Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Multimedia.
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