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HCIL-96-02

Preece, J., Shneiderman, B. (December 1995)
Survival of the Fittest: The Evolution of Multimedia User Interfaces
ACM Computing Surveys, vol. 27, 4 (Dec. 1995) 558-559.
HCIL-96-02

Multimedia is an art world term, often credited to designers Charles and Ray Eames, that describes the fusion of media such as painting, sculpture, photography, music, and video. Within the world of computers it is used broadly to describe almost any combination of media, ranging from simple text and graphics through to the Eames' vision (Nielsen, 1995; Preece et al., 1994; Shneiderman, 1992). The diversity of multimedia user interfaces raises questions about the origin of these varied species. We think Darwin would have nodded his head knowingly. His theory of evolution by natural selection through survival of the fittest elegantly explains the huge diversity of organisms that occupy the numerous ecological niches. But can this natural world theory explain the evolution of widgets, interface styles and emerging genres of multimedia? Why have some survived while others have not? Where do multimedia design ideas come from and what determines their evolution?


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