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Understanding Multimedia

What is multimedia? You’ve likely heard the term countless times, but it’s still useful to define it. Multimedia generally refers to a computer-based presentation of data that makes use of more than one medium—text and sound, for instance, or video and sound. In common usage, however, multimedia really suggests a medium beyond basic text and images. In other words, a soundless video stream that you view via a Web browser is still a multimedia presentation, because it’s something beyond the text and images that you typically see on a Web page.

Most of the multimedia items that you encounter on the Web are composed of time-based data—video, audio, or animation that you can start, stop, and play much like a video- or audiocassette. Some of those multimedia presentations will have interactive portions—buttons to click, for instance. But for the most part, the multimedia you encounter will be similar to other forms of media you find around the house—video, audio, and so on.


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