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Communication, complexity mediation and facilitation

Images and Sounds: audiovisual language and process for extending the boundaries of communication

(Carol Lorac|, Patrick Humphreys|, Slavica Savic)

Textual material is increasingly found to be inadequate for communicating precise information rapidly across the globe. Commercial and cultural success will depend upon developing a high level of mass multimedia 'literacy' in the 21st century matching the mass written literacy of the 20th and on exploiting the potential of richer-content multimedia material, which includes sound, moving and still pictures, and text.

In order to reveal the potential of audiovisual and multimedia composition, this project is developing Images and Sounds, an electronic book using compositional methods that successfully exploit three composing processes: written, audiovisual and multimedia. It uses the book metaphor with a traditional spine, but creatively combines linear written and audiovisual composing processes with non-linear and interactive multimedia composition.

The book traces the history of audiovisual and multimedia composition and develops a theoretical framework for understanding this kind of compositional practice as a universal communication system. It uses case studies as a way of illustrating the exploitation of these composing processes, in a diverse range of settings. It also suggests ways of developing these generative compositional competencies for a multiplicity of communication purposes.

Images and Sounds will be published in combined book and DVD form. The DVD will utilise the Night Kitchen TK3 expanded book format providing a pictoral/ graphic illustrated written text with limited non-linearity of narrative structure and interactivity. It will combine video sequences with written texts to create enriched communication. When the user clicks the static picture/ graphic symbols, the still picture sequence, video, film, animation or graphic sequences will be activated. They can be moved off the written text so that both are visible at the same time, and several annotations can be running at once. So it is possible to have the textual description/ explanation of an idea, and also see the related video or series of graphics available, so that one complements and enriches the other.

Spaces, processes and event design facilitating organisational innovation, creativity and communication

(Garrick Jones| and Patrick Humphreys|)

Large-scale group decision support systems are rapidly evolving. Purpose-built environments, supporting information systems, design-led processes and multimedia platforms are converging in ways which enable decision-making on scales incomprehensible five years ago.

This project analyses developments and problems in group decision support systems and identifies a synthesis of theories that influence decision-making within organisations. It explores a number of innovations in the enabling platforms for decision-making in complex organisational contexts, including space, processes and event design which help facilitate innovation, creativity and communication. By placing decision-making within literary and psychoanalytic perspectives of organisation, the project will demonstrate that involvement in production of collective narrative within a decision-making system can develop into active engagement with decision implementation - a process we call collaborative authored outcomes. The project proposes the evolution of group decision authoring and communication support (GDACS) and develops a comprehensive architecture that enables this approach.

Exploiting complexity through participatory multimedia - enrichment of context and creation of resources

(Patrick Humphreys| and Carol Lorac|)

This project investigates ways in which context can be enriched, permitting identification of new resources and pathways for innovative decision-making. In particular it will consider the use of participatory multimedia to provide rich language, which can both support innovative conceptualisation and generate new possibilities for exploration.

It will also assess the possibilities for constructive integration between these and strata employing more restricted language and proceduralised context, a necessary precondition for turning fantasy into real action. By analysing case studies of use of participatory media by groups and communities in England, Peru and other countries, the project will illustrate how the language of each stratum not only provides a different way of generating stories about what is, what could be, and what should be done, but also generates a different way of understanding the context in which such observations and potential actions are situated.

The project will analyse how communicating in multimedia in an arena founded on their own preferences and located in enriched contexts, can empower community-based decision makers to discover new resources and implement new pathways to value.