One of the defining notes brought out by Rockwell and Mactavish was that the academic study of multimedia should be distinguished from the craft of multimedia. In my mind it has the same constraints and flaws of interpretation that defining interactivity has. Though it is only one part of media and especially digital media, I will try to assess the statment and try to bring out its pros and cons.
Manovich says in his book „The Language of New Media“ that photography, which was widely implemented and used in the nineteenth century, had a profound and revolutionary impact on the development of modern society and culture. He also states that we are indeed in the middle of a new media revolution which shifts all of our culture to computer-mediated forms of production, distribution and communication. As far as interactivity is concerned, it does increase with the usage of multimedia, but to state that interactivity did not exist with previous mediums like books or television is a bit extremist. Although Manovich does not say that interactivity is only present in new media and multimedia, the differences between old and new media, be it defined as “new” and different from existing forms of entertainment and instruction or as to media „new“ to the twentieth or twenty first century, are huge.
One thing is true, all the previous developments in media, like the invention of the printing press or photography, only changed one specific type of cultural communication. One affected the distribution of information and the other one still images. To compare it with the developments in computer sciences is quite hard. As Manovich puts it, computer media revolution affects all stages of communication, including acquisition, manipulating, storage and distribution; it also affects all types of media — text, still images, moving images, sound, and spatial constructions. Still interactivity remains in the olden ways of doing things too. We do look at pictures and thus interact with them by holding them or memorizing different aspects, and we do the same with books or television for that matter. It is indeed a more psychological viewpoint, but there is not a lot different in looking at a photo on a computer screen or within a frame, as far as the interaction part is concerned.
So to come back to the first statement by Rockwell and Mactavish stating that the academic study of multimedia should be distinguished from the craft of multimedia. They state that learning to create multimedia works is important to the study of multimedia in applied programs, but it is possible to study digital media in theory without learning to make it. I do agree with the statement in a number of ways, but I also disagree with it. Firstly it is often said that one can go through many years of college and graduate without actually learning anything. Information can be memorized without understanding the principles or bottomline ideas. I am not saying that it is impossible to study multimedia without being exceptional in producing or making it, but as far as I have seen, it is not easy. By that I mean, if people study digital media without having any knowledge of how to actually produce it, they might not be able to comprehend the building blocks behind it all. It does not require much from a digital native to play through or upload a video to the internet, but to aquire the strengths and information necessary in order to fully explain and understand the makings of digital media takes more than reading a book on it.
To sum up, I believe that it is important to generate a full view of the surroundings and possibilites of any kind of media, be it multimedia, new media or old media. Nowadays the capabilities of computer systems seem to be limitless and they develop at a frantic pace, so it might seem to people that absolutely everything can be done and by whatever means. This is true to some extent. If a person studies and perhaps is involved or planning to be involved in projects that include desingning, crafting or implementing multimedia/new media, they should be familiar with the processes behind it. Either because they would have an idea on how much and what has to be done to achieve a goal, or what is possible to do with the resources at hand. As far as multimedia and new media go, it is extremely hard to define these as something that would be thoroughly and unmistakably valid in a couple of years time without knowing the trade and keeping up with the developments.