As we learned in the first lesson, face-to-face communication is normally composed of three different forms of communication:
- Body language.
Words and voice are received by one sense, hearing. Most face-to-face communication uses two senses, sight and hearing. Other senses, like touch, may be combined to enhance the message or emphasize concepts.
In the same way, mediated communication works best when it combines different types of media, called "multimedia." Appealing to multiple senses is beneficial because:
- Each person receives sensory information differently, so the use of multimedia makes the message more accessible to a larger audience.
- The message is strengthened through redundancy.
- If one form of media experiences interference, the other form may carry the missing information.
Multimedia may be any combination of media types. The most commonly used combinations are:
- Text and visuals.
- Spoken words and visuals.
- Imagery and sound.
Visual and word-based (audio or text) communications are very powerful in virtual communications because they use the most dominant communication senses of sight and sound, and they are easily emulated through technology. Notice how many of the following examples of multimedia systems use combined visual and word-based media:
- Web conferencing - imagery and sound.
- Chats that allow embedded images or attachments - imagery and text.
- Video conferencing - imagery and sound.
- Closed circuit television - imagery and sound.
- Texting - images and text.
- Flight and driving simulations - imagery, sound, and haptics.
- Music videos. - imagery and sound.
- Podcasts - imagery and sound.
- Social networking - imagery and text.
- Television and movies - imagery and sound.
- Books with images - imagery and text.
- Pop-up messages and alarms - text, sound, and possibly haptics.
- Embedded images or videos in forums or on blog sites - imagery and text.