Mark R. Johnson


[Interactive Screens]
[Amateur Recording]
[24 Hours]




In order to establish a balance between preservation and enhancement, several specific design decisions had to be made concerning issues such as page layout, the use of screen transitions and animation, methods for presenting the text of the comic book, use of a soundtrack, and the application of interactive components such as buttons and menus. Each of these decisions served either of two functions: mapping and augmentation.

Mapping, refers to the transformation of content from one medium to another, a function which is principally concerned with preservation. Each medium has different characteristics. The key to mapping is determining how to most effectively migrate the content from one medium to another when these characteristics diverge. It is important to point out that this is a "lossy" process -- by definition, a perfect one-to-one mapping does not exist. Primarily this is due to physical differences between media. For example, print is a high resolution, colorful, portable medium that relies almost entirely upon static visuals that are presented via a mechanism of subtractive reflection of light. The computer, on the other hand, provides only a low resolution, often limited color, non-portable medium using a self-illuminated display based on the additive emission of light. But the computer also offers video, animation, and high fidelity audio. All of these physical characters have direct physiological and psychological effects on the reader, which must be taken into account.

In addition to physical differences between media, there are often cultural differences as well. For example, mapping from a computer screen to a television screen has only small physical differences, but the cultural differences such as how each is used (consumption vs. contemplation), how many people tend to use them (a family gathered to watch television vs. a single person operating a computer), and even how the user positions him or herself with respect to the device (sitting across the room from the television vs. sitting 24" from the computer screen) can have an overwhelming impact. As a result, mapping attempts to maintain as much of the original context and effect as possible, making up for a lack in the new medium with respect to the old.

Augmentation, on the other hand, addresses the fact that the new medium can offer capabilities that were not available in the original. For example, animation and sound is not possible in print, but it can be created and presented quite effectively on a computer. Augmentation can, however, be a problematic issue when one is concerned with maintaining the original artistic integrity of the work. It is easy to over-augment the production, warping it into something that diverges significantly from the original effect of the work. On the other hand, augmentation is sometimes necessary to adjust for the losses due to mapping. In doing so, it can actually help maintain the integrity of the work.

Listed below are some of the most important design decisions reached for the 24 Hours project.

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Last modified 6/11/97.