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Emergent Semantics

media objects users satisfy

Definition: Emergent semantics deals with discovering and managing a media object’s set of context and high-level descriptor pairs.

In the past, multimedia documents were described to users via various sorts of textual descriptors. Librarians described these documents using various structured languages, hoping to convey their contents accurately to users. Over time, more and more researchers became of the opinion that there were more to images (and, by extension, to other forms of media), than could be described by short descriptors in some formal text-based language. They believed that by extracting various content-based descriptors, they could somehow convey automatically the complete nature of media contents in an objective fashion. They lost sight of the fact that media objects may not have a unique, objective nature, and that, even if they did possess such a nature, discovering it would be very difficult. Media objects, after all, also evoke emotions in people and this goes a long way in explaining their differential effects for different people.

It was soon realized that rather than trying to discover a media object’s hidden meaning, researchers should try to invent ways of managing media objects so as to help people make more intelligent use of them. They should initiate studies on the relationship between users and media objects. Media objects should be interpreted relative to the particular goal or point-of-view of a particular user at a particular time. Media objects that would satisfy a user at one time may not satisfy him at other times. And, of course, media objects that would satisfy one user may not satisfy other users, even at the same time.

Of course, content-based descriptors are necessary to this process, but they are definitely not sufficient. This was soon realized and another far-sighted group of researchers studied measured interactions between users and media objects, with the ultimate goal of trying to satisfy the user community by providing them with the media objects they required individually, based on their previous media interactions. Thus, the field of emergent media semantics was born. So, the multimedia community has finally learned that context cannot be ignored, but should, and can, be managed. And, that discovering and managing a media object’s set of context, high-level descriptor pairs is an important problem.

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