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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 2. Current Multimedia Theories


· 2 · current multimedia theories In the previous chapter I explained the difference between multimedia, hy- brid media, and multisensory media. Then I explained why philosophy is use- ful, and I described relativism, phenomenology, and aesthetics. In this chapter I organize, describe, and evaluate current theories of mul- timedia. In addition, I suggest how to build new theories. I began preparing for this book by searching for multimedia theories, but I only found a few books and articles. The most useful source was an article by Sharon Oviatt, who specializes in mobile and ubiquitous interfaces and multi- media. She lists six theories related to multimedia: Working Memory Theory, Cognitive Load Theory, Gestalt Theory, Affordance Theory, Activity Theo- ry, and Communication Accommodation Theory (Oviatt & Cohen, 2015). I divided these six theories into three groups. One group consists of the information processing theories. Working Memory Theory and Cognitive Load Theory belong in this group because they focus on how the brain pro- cesses information. Along with the two information processing theories mentioned by Oviatt, I also summarize Multiple Resource Theory and Cog- nitive Theory of Multimedia. The Cognitive Theory of Multimedia has dom- inated multimedia research for a decade or longer. A second group consists of perception theories and it includes Gestalt Theory, Affordance Theory, 20 philosophy for multisensory communication and media and Activity Theory. These perception- based theories, rather than focusing on the brain, claim that people make sense of their experience by moving around and interacting with their environment. The sixth...

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