Modern multimedia is a huge part of nearly everyone's daily life. While the term multimedia is typically thought of as only covering things such as movies or video games, it is also a powerful tool that can be used by businesses and organizations to display a wide range of content to employees or group members.
The word "Multimedia" was first coined by Andy Warhol in 1965 in reference to his music, video, and art presentation show titled the "Exploding Plastic Inevitable." Multimedia later came to mean business presentations or slide shows and eventually morphed into its modern interpretation of any presentation that combines different elements such as text, video, and sound. In the 1990's the term was split into the classifications of linear and non-linear.
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Linear multimedia can be distinguished from non-linear multimedia because it has literally no interactivity of any kind. It lacks any extra features that a user can take advantage of, such as the ability to choose different options, click on icons, control the flow of the media, or change the pace at which the media is displayed.
The two main types of linear multimedia are movie presentations, such as pre-recorded instructional videos or fictional movies recorded for entertainment purposes, and printed books and magazines. Live video feeds can also be considered linear multimedia because the viewer has no ability to speed up or slow down the presentation or skip to different segments.
The main reason to use linear multimedia over the more interactive and fun non-linear types of multimedia is to aid in teaching or training. Linear multimedia works exceedingly well for providing information to large groups of people such as at training sessions, seminars, workplace meetings, study groups, or church gatherings.
Multimedia ceases to be classified as linear when any interactive elements at all are introduced, such as the ability to skip to different chapters in a DVD, rewind or fast-forward a video, move a character in a game, or navigate to different sections of a website.