Accessing audio and video used to be a simple matter - simple because of the simplicity of the access mechanisms and because of the poverty of the sources. An incommensurable amount of audiovisual information is becoming available in digital form, in digital archives, on the World Wide Web, in broadcast data streams and in personal and professional databases, and this amount is only growing.
The value of information often depends on how easy it can be found, retrieved, accessed, filtered and managed. The transition between the second and third millennium abounds with new ways to produce, offer, filter, search, and manage digitized multimedia information. Broadband is being offered with increasing audio and video quality and speed of access.
The trend is clear: in the next few years, users will be confronted with such a large number of contents provided by multiple sources that efficient and accurate access to this almost infinite amount of content seems unimaginable today. In spite of the fact that users have increasing access to these resources, identifying and managing them efficiently is becoming more difficult, because of the sheer volume.
This applies to professional as well as end users. The question of identifying and managing content is not just restricted to database retrieval applications such as digital libraries, but extends to areas like broadcast channel selection, multimedia editing, and multimedia directory services.