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

ACM Copyright Notice


An introduction to the ACM Workshop on Effective Abstractions in Multimedia: Layout, Presentation, and Interaction.

Table of Contents

The workshop theme

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, and interaction. While we are focused on human-computer interface in one sense, the workshop is not about HCI in the sense of human factors, design metrics, or evaluation. We are concerned 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.

Goals of the workshop

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.

The lineup

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:

Bottoms up!