Electronic Proceedings of the
ACM Workshop on Effective Abstractions in Multimedia
November 4, 1995
San Francisco, California
Introduction: Abstraction in Multimedia
- Kent Wittenburg
- 445 South St.
- Morristown, NJ 07962-1910, USA
- 210 829-4382
An introduction to the
ACM Workshop on Effective Abstractions in Multimedia:
Layout, Presentation, and Interaction.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, abstraction is "the
act or process of separating the inherent qualities or properties of
something from the actual physical object or concept to which they belong."
The rest of our workshop title adds the word effective and also
spells out some problem domains, namely, layout, presentation, and
interaction for multimedia and hypermedia applications. And there we have
it, a workshop with a mouthful.
Why this theme? The organizers of this workshop, not knowing much about
multimedia in the low-level bitstream sense, nevertheless wanted to create
a forum in which researchers interested in multimedia and hypermedia
applications could find common ground. Our sense was that an eclectic
research community might learn from each other by focusing on
representations and methods for computing with
hypermedia/multimedia data at the point at which the human meets
the computer. After all, one can only judge layouts, presentations, and
interactions from the point of view of a human in the loop. And all
interesting multimedia applications do have at least one human, usually
many more, in a loop that usually includes authoring, production, delivery,
While we are focused on human-computer interface in one sense, the workshop
about HCI in the sense of human factors, design metrics, or evaluation. We
with underlying computational methods that can support
the creation of effective presentations and interactions in hypermedia and
multimedia. Needless to say, abstraction is essential for any computation,
and it becomes all the more critical with the overwhelming amounts of the
actual physical data found with today's networked multimedia applications.
The challenge before us is to find a common
language of discourse among
a group that tackles problems as seemlingly different as retrieval of video
segments versus synchronizing media events versus 3D object rendering.
Our goals for the workshop
are for participants
If we are to take the last of these goals seriously, presenters, session
chairs, and audience alike will need to stay focused.
To the end I would ask us to try to answer the
following questions with respect to each presentation. Perhaps the session
chairs, if not the audience, can help to bring discussion back to these issues.
- to learn something about how those in specialties other than their own
are approaching problems related to abstractions in multimedia
- to establish a dialog among researchers across the usual
- to explore whether there might be the basis for a cross-disciplinary
study of representations and methods for abstraction of multimedia objects
and events for layout, presentation, and interaction
- What characterizes the underlying data? That is, what level of
representation is assumed for the multimedia/hypermedia domain over which
abstractions are being proposed?
- What is the basic vocabulary of the abstraction data structures? Is
it, for example, a system of types? Can we characterize what properties or
qualities of the underlying data are left out of the abstraction
- What characterizes the structures used for the abstraction? Are they
trees? Graphs of some kind? Relational structures? Tables?
- What characterizes the algorithms used to compute these abstract
structures? Is their complexity known? What about algorithms that use
these abstract structures?
We didn't really know what would happen when we put out the call for
participation for this workshop. There is much work in the areas of
layout, presentation, and interaction that is not represented here. However,
we are very pleased with the quality of the people and the work that we
have been able to include. The sessions are:
- Retrieval and Navigation, chaired by Isabel Cruz
- Presentation: General Models and Issues, chaired by Elizabeth Andre
- Presentation: Spatial Layout, chaired by Joe Marks
- Presentation: Temporal Layout, chaired by Polle Zellweger