8.0134 Future of Multimedia Research? (1/40)

Sun, 7 Aug 1994 22:05:26 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 8, No. 0134. Sunday, 7 Aug 1994.

Date: Fri, 05 Aug 94 17:27:41 EDT
From: John Saillant <SAILLANT@BROWNVM>
Subject: Future of multimedia research?

I'd like to hear opinions on the future use of multimedia material in
research and scholarship, as opposed to teaching. At the moment, we have
CD-ROMs like _Who Built America?_, which is a multimedia textbook. I'm
curious to know, however, how scholars think they will use multimedia
material in their research, perhaps in publishing CD-ROM "essays" or
"books" or files available on the World Wide Web?

A few questions come to mind. Just to make a short, spontaneous list,
what would you do if you had access to photographic-quality images of
clocks, buildings and building plans, furniture, paintings, title
pages of first editions, and quilts and could use these images in
a computerized work? How do you think scholarship will change when
we store vast amounts of data, say a painter's entire oeuvre, in a
CD-ROM or a WWW file? How would scholarship in music, say, be affected
by the ability to include performances in sight & sound, along with
images of the instruments used or the place in which the music was
performed? What is the scholarly value of a computer file that can
show the differences among a number of similar objects, such as a
collection of clocks or clothing or firearms or shackles?
How do you think work on, say, broadsides would be different if the
scholar could display a large collection of broadsides in an
essay, instead of the one or two or three we might use in a
journal article or book?

I don't intend this to be an exhaustive list of questions, and they are
surely conditioned by my own interests in early America. But it's
evident from CD-ROMs &, even more so, from the WWW, that computers are
creating new opportunities. I don't have answers to those questions, of
course, or even really know if computers will result in real
differences in scholarship. I would like to hear from others,
particularly in early American studies but also in any area of the

John Daniel Saillant
Moderator, IEAHCNET
Visiting Assistant Professor, History
Brown University, Box N
Providence, R.I. 02912