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It’s all multimedia now! (so what’s next?)

YOW! 2014 Melbourne

The first generation of human-computer interfaces (HCI) (1950s-70s) used punched cards and line printers as interface devices. It was considered wonderful at the time (I remember). Starting in the 1980s with the Xerox STAR and Smalltalk systems and then the Apple Macintosh, this was replaced by the WIMP (“windows, icons, menus, pointer”) graphical user interfaces that are now commonplace. We have seen another genuine revolution in computing in the last five years, brought on by the introduction of “smartphones” that incorporate able-bodied computers (in terms of MIPS and GBytes) combined with three or more radios (cell, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS) and a variety of sensors (microphones, multi-touch screens, cameras, accelerometers, compasses, etc.). These devices are growing in popularity as “media hubs” posing as telephones or tablets.

It should be obvious that the future of computing is to be found here, that the coming generations of laptop and desktop computers will integrate I/O devices for multiple media and multiple modes of networking, and that this new generation of HCI systems will be as different from the WIMP model as it was from the punched card world that preceded it. This presentation will draw from the presenter’s 30 years of experience in advanced multimedia computing, and decade of experience teaching graduate courses in multimedia engineering at the UC Santa Barbara. It will consider a series of ancient technologies that are now relevant again as well as posing a set of questions about our assumptions about how people interact with software and services.

Far from alleging to have all the answers, the presenter will re-evaluate several assertions made in the last 30 years regarding the use of “thin” clients, of cloud computing and data storage, on the increasing use of multimedia data, and on support for higher-level data models and interaction modes in end-user application software.

Stephen Travis Pope

Composer, film maker and COO pioneer


United States

Stephen Travis Pope is an award-winning composer, filmmaker, computer scientist and social activist based in Santa Barbara, California. He is currently active as a software development contractor and intellectual property expert through FASTLab, Inc ( From 1996-2010, he worked as faculty in the Depts. of Music, Computer Science, and the Graduate Program in Media Arts and Technology (MAT) at University of California (UC) Santa Barbara. Before that, he lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for a decade, working at Xerox PARC, Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) and UC Berkeley’s Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT). His music and video compositions are released through HeavenEverywhere Media (

As a software engineer, Stephen has been a pioneer of object-oriented programming (in LISP and Smalltalk), UNIX (V6 & V7, B & C programming), artificial intelligence (1980s rule-based expert systems and logic programming), computer graphics (pre-Macintosh UNIX window systems), pre-CORBA reliable distributed systems, and real-time multimedia signal processing (for computer music). His 100 publications range in topic from software technology to music theory and composition. From 1988-97 he served as editor of Computer Music Journal (MIT Press).