Tuesday, July 26, 2005

NASA's Idea of Multimedia

I watched the Discovery launch today, with my heart in my throat until the solid rocket motors were jettisoned. (I'm in the generation for whom "where were you when the Challenger exploded" is a touchpoint question, much as the Kennedy assassination was for my parents' generation, and 9/11 will be for my kids'.) The difference from Challenger being that instead of watching it in my basement apartment at college on my 13" black and white TV, I watched the streaming video from NASA on my laptop.

Cool, I can watch the Shuttle launch here at the office without having to find a TV. One thing irks me, though, and that's the use of the term "multimedia" to describe streaming video to a computer. (Sorry to single out NASA; they've got better things to do than drive meaningful usage of technology-related terms in the English language, but it was their usage that made me think of it.)

No. Throwing the NASA TV feed out a webcast isn't multimedia. Show me thumbnails of four camera feeds and let me select which one I want to watch (so I can cut away from the shot of the Governer and his sister-in-law to, gee, maybe the launch pad). Superimpose the countdown clock over the video feed so you don't have to keep cutting back to the camera shot from the viewing stage where the clock is visible. Show a map with the transatlantic abort sites. After the launch superimpose the vehicle telemetry with position, altitude, and speed. Even better, have a live map showing vehicle position with altitude and speed superimposed. That's multimedia.