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Philosophy for Multisensory Communication and Media

Keith Kenney

Multisensory media – hybrid media that engage more than the auditory and visual senses – is beginning to change the way that we communicate. While hardware and software for capturing and emitting different types of sensory data are still being developed, this book lays a theoretical foundation for their use. Drawing upon the ideas of philosophers who write about sensory perception as well as each of the senses, Keith Kenney explains the issues that communication and media scholars will need to investigate as we begin to exchange haptic, olfactory, and even gustatory messages.

Scholars interested in communication theory, media theory, and multimodality will discover new ideas by current philosophers, while scholars of sensory studies will learn how their field can be extended to communication and media. Designers of multisensory experiences, such as videogame developers, will find practical suggestions for creating richer and more meaningful experiences. A dozen sidebars apply philosophical ideas to common experiences so that the text can be used in advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses.


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Chapter 1. Introduction


· 1 · introduction Although some media are in decline, especially media that are printed and de- livered via the postal system or by someone driving around different neighbor- hoods and throwing newspapers out of car windows, the use of digital media is very robust. Computers connected to the Internet and phones connected to cell phone towers seem to be in constant use. But I am less concerned with the amount of time we are using media and more concerned with the type of media being used. I argue that instead of multimedia, we are using hybrid media, and in the near future we’ll be using multisensory media. In multimedia, the content of auditory media and visual media appear next to each other. A web page, for example, may have text next to photo- graphs, which are next to videos. Similarly, a PowerPoint file may display text on a page and have additional types of media inserted into the page. On both web and PowerPoint pages, each medium retains its own file format and its own way of accessing and editing its data. Even though we may look at a pho- tograph while listening to an audio story, the photo and audio are separate. Hybrid media are different because disparate media are merged together. With films, for example, we always hear the sounds synchronized with the pictures. An example of a newer and more complex hybrid medium is Google Earth, which combines aerial photography, satellite imagery, 3D computer 2 philosophy for multisensory...

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