5.0289 EMMA: Athena Language Learning Project (1/93)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 26 Aug 1991 18:37:33 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0289. Monday, 26 Aug 1991.

Date: Wed, 21 Aug 91 17:27:46 EDT
From: Janet H. Murray <jhmurray@ATHENA.MIT.EDU>
Subject: Request for Comments on a Proposed MultiMedia System for Humanists

Environment for MultiMedia Authoring (EMMA)
Request for Comments

Athena Language Learning Project
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

My group at MIT (the Athena Language Learning Project) is considering
developing a hypermedia authoring system that will allow users with no
programming experience to create, annotate, browse, and search large multimedia
documents. Before we begin, we are trying to find out if there are other
programs, either finished or in development on any platform, that we should
investigate or that would make our work unnecessary. We are also interested in
feedback from potential users of such a program about whether our system would
meet their needs.

We're calling it an Environment for MultiMedia Authoring (EMMA). Initial
development will be done on the Macintosh, using MacApp and C++. The user
interface will allow various "frames" of information to be created in a single
document, with each top-level frame appearing in its own window. There will be
text, graphics, audio, and video frames. A frame or selection within a frame
can be either pasted into or linked to a selection in any other frame, even
between different types of frames. Thus, a video selection can be pasted into
an essay to illustrate a point, or an audio selection can be linked to related
textual commentary.

In addition to browsing through a document, users will be able to search for
frames containing a particular word, sound, or image. More powerful search
commands will also allow users to search for particular relationships, such as
all video frames linked to text containing a specific word. Additional frame
types, like outlines and tables, will be provided to organize information more
uniformly than links can, and the more powerful search commands will be able to
search for particular relationships within these structures.

Users can define different kinds of links for different purposes, so that
"glossary" links can be distinct from "commentary" links, and searches can be
restricted to include only certain kinds of links. Users browsing through an
EMMA document can also specify which kinds of links they are interested in --
all other links will be made invisible.

Other later enhancements to EMMA may include conditional links that allow users
to create interactive stories and lessons, support for links across EMMA
documents, and special tools to track and organize the contributions of
multiple users. Ultimately, we hope to port EMMA to other platforms, such as
Unix workstations running X-Windows or IBM-compatibles running Microsoft

We hope that EMMA will appeal to people in many disciplines:

* in foreign language teaching, to provide students with video immersion in a
foreign culture, while providing them with the comprehension aids and cultural
notes they need to fully understand difficult material

* in the study of film, where scripts, shot breakdowns, and expert commentary
can be combined with precise control of the video to provide an ideal research

* in literary studies, where the integrity of a text such as a novel or play
must be maintained while linking it to commentary or auxiliary materials such
as photographs or videos of stage productions

* in writing courses, to study the variety of hypertext structures available
for technical education or the creation of non-linear narratives

* in any discipline where complex information, particularly information in
mixed media, needs to be stored, organized, and retrieved without violating its
natural format

EMMA will be distributed with several "template" documents to simplify the
creation of common hypermedia documents like glossaries, video transcriptions,
and textual annotations. Initial development of EMMA will focus on several
interactive video projects that are currently in progress at MIT, including
interactive videos for learning French, Spanish, German, and Japanese, and the
creation of an interactive Shakespeare archive consisting of quarto and folio
texts and multiple performances of the plays on videodisc. For these projects,
we will concentrate on making EMMA work with industrial videodisc players, but
we eventually hope to support QuickTime video and audio, and CD-ROM audio.

All comments are welcome. Please send replies to:

snail mail: Stuart A. Malone
MIT, room 20B-231
18 Vassar Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

internet: samalone@athena.mit.edu

bitnet: samalone%athena.bitnet@mitvma

------- End of Forwarded Message