- Dictionary Terms—Part VI:Telematics
—An act by a user working with a graphical user interface (GUI) that produces a specific response within the interface. The activation occurs when the user presses a key on the keyboard or clicks the mouse. The result may be the opening of a window or menu, or the execution of a hyperlink.
- AESTHETICS OF COMMUNICATION
—An approach to art that considers art an act of communication between humans. The expression was introduced in 1982 by Fred Forest and Mario Costa to describe art that focuses on relationships rather than on objects, on promoting human interaction rather than the process or the medium and on integrating communication technologies currently used in society. This approach to art is a natural extension of art sociologique, as formulated by Fred Forest along with Hervé Fischer and Jean-Paul Thenot in 1974.
—A software entity that can perform various tasks within a multimedia or virtual-reality program with relatively little user input. The tasks are those that it makes sense to automate, such as retrieving information from a database or the Internet, or offering a selection of profiles for user-specific guided tours of a hypermedia program. Agents can also be used for role-playing, where they may be characters in an interactive story or scene; this function is similar to that of a soft actor. Agents are often anthropomorphic, designed with the culture and expectations of users in mind, and are given features and characteristics that seem appropriate to their functions. The idea of agents was introduced in the 1950s by John McCarthy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His concept was further defined and developed by Oliver G. Selfridge, also of MIT. In the early 1990s, Brenda Laurel made agents one of the basic concepts of her theory of human-computer interaction.
—The active element in a hypertext or hypermedia node; the location of a link, but not the destination to which it connects. The anchor is usually a word or series of words set off from the text by its color or appearance. In hypermedia, the anchor may also be an image or a sound. The terms anchor and button are almost synonymous. In systems where both concepts are used, they are distinguished by the fact that the button usually includes a directional indicator.
- ASYNCHRONOUS TRANSMISSION
—A transmission method in which data is sent one character at a time, each character being preceded by a start bit and followed by a stop bit. Asynchronous transmission, also called "start-stop synchronization," is the simplest way of synchronizing data flow between computers where the timing of these computers is not controlled by the same clock signal.
—A teleconference in which participants are connected by telephone circuits that transmit speech and sound.
- AUTHORING SYSTEM
—Software used to create hypertext or hypermedia programs. This type of software includes a set of tools for importing, processing or generating various types of data (text, visual or sound) to be included in the hyperdocument (for example, graphics, animation and editing tools), as well as for creating the structure of the hyperdocument itself (nodes and links) and its GUI (node format, types of buttons activating the links, etc.). Some authoring systems allow the programmer to use a programming language to define the hyperdocument's various functions. These programming languages are usually scripting languages (e.g. HyperCard and Macromedia Director).
—A representation of the user in a virtual environment. This representation may mirror the user's actual characteristics to a greater or lesser extent. Especially when interacting with other users, the user may wish to create an avatar designed to achieve specific interaction objectives rather than to depict reality.
—An unchanging or stationary part of a graphical interface in an interactive multimedia system or of an environment in a virtual reality system. In the former case, the backdrop provides a base for the construction of a complex and changing image built of superimposed planes, forming, among other things, visual representations of the system's interactive functions. In the latter case, the backdrop...