Finding a way back through multimedia

7 05 2009

In my ongoing escapade with the Web site I am designing, I recently entered the realm of Flash and SlideShowPro. I am currently of the opinion that creating slideshows is neither as fun or as easy as it sounds — I’m sure my opinion will improve with added experience, but for the time being, the very mention of creating and embedding photo galleries makes me cringe.

While there is nothing like adding a slideshow or a video to complement a story, multimedia can also take on a role in which it becomes the main attraction. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

Our society is driven by entertainment values. If it sparkles, flashes, bops or zings, we’re all eyes and ears.

However, in most cases, multimedia doesn’t stop after a few pictures and a video clip. There are audio files, interactive maps and info graphs, as well as a plethora of other possibilities to consider.

Multimedia draws those who lack the focus to sit down and read actual print, start to finish, minus all the bells and whistles.

Many news sites have done their utmost to embrace our love of all things interactive.

According to Marshall McLuhan in his book, “Understanding Media,” media can be either “hot” — passive, or “cool” — requires user interaction. Most multimedia falls under the “hot media” category. Users click on a link, sit back and are spoon fed information, rather than investing the brain cells required for reading.

I think specifically of news sites, where it seems no story is complete without visual aids, ranging from photos to video clips to idiot-proof graphics.

Multimedia is an adaptation that has been made for the here and now generation in which we live. Although it can have its drawbacks such as bandwidth issues and adding to the general chaos that has been known to reign in the Webosphere, any means of attracting and informing the public about what is going on in the world around them is worth the effort.