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Editorial comment

Clare McBeath and Roger Atkinson
Proceedings Editors, IIMS Program Committee

The purpose of desk top publishing the Proceedings of the Second International Interactive Multimedia Symposium is to provide a record which does justice to the work of the authors, to the expectations of Symposium delegates, and to the importance of informing many others about the capabilities achieved, and potentially achievable, with interactive multimedia. The symposium organisers intend that the Proceedings shall form a major record of the state of the art and science for interactive multimedia in Australia and overseas.

There are 113 papers or abstracts in this collection. They represent a broad cross section of ideas, experiences and research from developers, distributors and users of multimedia. These three groups find few enough occasions to come together and share ideas at any time, but to publish side by side in one volume, and in these numbers, must be unique. We found the juxtaposition of technical, academic and commercial perspectives exciting and optimistic for the future. We believe the papers in this volume will lead to a valuable cross fertilisation of ideas and inspiration for further developments in the field of interactive multimedia.

Technical constraints

As indicated in several of the papers in this Proceedings volume, the ability to move binary files across the network is becoming an essential tool of the trade for practitioners in interactive multimedia.

Email has become an important alternative method of submitting papers for desktop publishing, and it is likely that the next IIMS will specify email or anonymous ftp as the primary methods of submission. A significant number of emailed submissions for this volume were received, using Eudora for Macintosh, in the formats raw binary (eg, Word for Windows), binhex (eg, Word for Macintosh), or uuencode (eg, despatches by Pegasus, the email handler associated with the public domain for Novell networks). In most cases there were no problems, but some difficulties occurred with errors in large uuencoded files, and with files which had been subjected to compression prior to transmission. We recommend that files be transmitted as raw binary wherever this is feasible. If in doubt, try a test emailing of a short binary (word processor) file prior to emailing your paper to the organisers. You can always email a copy to yourself to test what you want to do. No difficulties were encountered with anon ftp submissions to /pub/incoming on cleo.murdoch.edu.au, provided that the files were transferred in raw binary format and not in a compressed format.

We also encountered some difficulties in the process of reducing images and figures within word processor files to grey scale for laser printing (we regret that the budget did not permit high resolution colour printing). Authors need to be alert to the intended use of their work. If the destination is conventional black and white offset printing, the editors have to reduce colour submissions to a suitable grey scale. That is not always an easy process, and we regret that the results achieved in this volume are variable, because of time and budget constraints. Whilst a graphic done with a palette of a million colours may look great on your own screen, the question is what will your work look like in 16 greys (or whatever capability there is available to the end user). Some images were much too large, in physical dimensions, in numbers of bytes, and in amount of redundant colour information. It is better that you yourself do the reduction to a reasonable number of greys at your own screen, prior to submission, because it is not easy for the editors to achieve what you intended. We did the best we could within the constraints, stripping colour codes from quite a large number of graphics, and unpicking invisible layers of colour from others, but it was inevitable that the results would vary according to what had been done in the original.

For electronic publishing in the future we need to be highly conscious of the nature of the viewing capabilities readers may have, be it the traditional printed book, a low end monochrome screen, or a high resolution colour screen. Also, contributors should be alert to the demands imposed by large files. The completed Proceedings book takes up 24 MB, a heavy load on the disk of anybody's desktop computer (although a minor load on the gigabyte plus disks hanging off the typical network file server). The largest of the Proceedings papers is 2.5 MB, too large to move anywhere except over a network. Several of the papers had to be assembled from a number of files, and once in place could not be backed up on floppies, or transported easily from office to home computer. We found it quite a challenge dealing with most of the difficulties, but would like to recommend that contributors think carefully about the platform environment for typical users, readers, learners, etc, when they are tempted to generate ever larger multimedia files.

At the outset of this project, we updated our virus check programs for both Macintosh and PC, and we conscientiously scanned all disks before copying them. However, there was not a single infected disk amongst the submissions. We doubt whether this would have been the case two years ago.

Editorial decisions

Those of you who have had editorial experience will know that there is no end to the process of correcting, changing and improving. However, nothing can make an editor more stressed than having to rewrite whole paragraphs, shift and bracket all the dates in a long reference list, or remove endless capitals and redundant punctuation from the text! Editors have to make decisions about the degree of consistency they want, and the amount of change they are prepared to make in the time available.

At the outset we resolved that we would keep the editorial function to a minimum and authors were asked to proof read their own work carefully and make sure that expression and detail was correct before submission. We intended only to standardise on page design, levels of headings and spelling, but ended up, in fact, including referencing, punctuation and some tidying up of sentence structure and expression. On occasions we altered text to fit line and page breaks. However, we could not include things which were not in the original submissions, and we did not attempt to complete missing references or captions, for instance, nor insert graphic information lost in translation.

We removed TM and R symbols, (and lists of Trademarks, in several papers) from proprietary software and hardware names for a number of reasons. Firstly, the symbols did not transfer easily or correctly across platforms, secondly, we expected that people at a conference such as this would be fully aware of the existence of proprietary names in the world of computing, and thirdly, we wanted to obtain a simple consistency and to conserve space.

One of our major editorial concerns was space. The need to produce the Proceedings in one volume dictated our choice of font size and page design. Presenters were informed in advance of the proposed page design, and although they were not expected to format their papers themselves (and it was easier for us if they didn't), the information allowed them to make decisions about the size of graphics and tables.

Another consideration was time. It turned out to be an enormous job and the deadlines were intense. The deadline for papers was 15 November, and we must thank those who conformed with this date at a very busy time of the year. A number of contributors sought "extensions", and we were happy to accommodate these, but too large a number of papers arrived late. We made every effort to include all the papers, but were unable eventually to avoid including an Additional Papers section. The laser print run and final check to produce the master copies required a full week.

We were unable to give writers the opportunity to check drafts or approve any changes made, and we trust that they are as happy with the final versions as we are. We feel it was a worthwhile experience and are grateful for the privilege of being asked to edit this most interesting and important volume.

Citation of Proceedings papers

References to an IIMS paper should cite the author or authors, the year 1994, title of the paper, the editors and name of the Proceedings, page number range for the paper, place of publication and publisher, as in the following example (details of punctuation, etc, may vary with different publishers).
Rehn, G. (1994). From Kodak PhotoCD to lecturer's desktop: The networking of multimedia resources. In C. McBeath & R. Atkinson (Eds), Proceedings of the Second International Interactive Multimedia Symposium (pp.461-467). Perth, WA: Promaco Conventions.

Editors: Clare McBeath
Faculty of Education, Curtin University of Technology,
GPO Box U1987, Perth WA 6001
Tel. +61 8 9351 2182 Fax. +61 8 9351 2547
Email: C.McBeath@ed.curtin.edu.au

Dr Roger Atkinson
External Studies Unit, Murdoch University,
Murdoch WA 6150
Tel. +61 8 9360 6840 Fax +61 8 9310 4929
Email: atkinson@cleo.murdoch.edu.au

Please cite as: C. McBeath and R. Atkinson (1994). Editorial comment. In C. McBeath and R. Atkinson (Eds), Proceedings of the Second International Interactive Multimedia Symposium, xi-xii. Perth, Western Australia, 23-28 January. Promaco Conventions. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/iims/1994/editorial.html

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