So, you’re on the internet and more specifically, on this blog post. Did you know that the actual page you are reading right now is multimodal?? According to the “Writer/Designer Guide to Making Multimodal Projects” by Kristin L. Arola, Jennifer Sheppard, and Cheryl E. Ball, multimodal means that there are different means of communication occurring at the same time. For instance, the meme below is multimodal because the linguistic mode is used by reading the text and the visual mode is used as well because you are looking at an image.
Realizing this has made me recognize examples of multimodal communication in my everyday life, from far reaching directions. For instance, how many times a day do you check your Instagram feed? Well, Instagram posts are an example of multimodal communication. The picture you post is visual communication and the text for your caption is linguistic communication.
Here’s an example of an Instagram post on my feed from a food account I follow.
By reading the caption and seeing the picture, you are experiencing two different aspects of communication. These aspects allow you to engage in my post at a greater level than by just experiencing one mode of communication. Multimodal communication is really interesting on Instagram because the caption can either line-up directly with the picture (like in the post I have included) or it can take you somewhere totally different. By using linguistic communication to create a caption for your picture, you allow the audience to perceive the picture however way you want them to. How amazing do these homemade chicken parmesan baked ziti tacos look???
Another example of multimodal communication I have experienced occurred last night while I was watching the American Horror Story season premier. (Great show by the way—I highly recommend it). I invited my younger brother over to my apartment to watch with me. He likes watching his shows with subtitles because that way it is easier to understand. Therefore, I used visual communication to watch the actual show, gestural communication to understand the actor’s emotions, aural communication to listen to the words, and linguistic communication to read the subtitles. These four modes of communication allowed me to experience American Horror Story in a deeper way than only using one mode would have allowed me. For example, reading the text on screen without hearing the character’s tone through aural communication would not have allowed me to grasp a full understanding of the characters dialogue. Additionally, reading the text through linguistic communication and not watching the show with visual communication and gestural communication would not have allowed me to see the character’s reactions and emotions.
This American Horror Story meme is multimodal because it involves visual communication by looking at the meme and linguistic communication by reading the text.
Writing about my experience finding multimodal communication in my everyday life will help me imagine possibilities for my experiment sequence because it makes me realize that just because a writing piece is in a certain form, doesn’t mean it cannot be changed. Furthermore, this change can allow for deeper insights and understanding of the meaning of the piece. Multimodal communication allows the audience to experience something from different perspectives. By experimenting with a piece of my writing, I can do the exact same thing. There are many different wants to look at a piece of writing, which will also allow the audience to see it in different ways too. Writing is not static—so the possibilities are unknown.
P.S. My blog post is also multimodal! The linguistic mode was used to read my text, the visual mode was used to see my pictures, and the spatial mode was how I arranged my pictures and text on the page. When designing the spatial aspects of my blog post, I had to make sure that the reader could easily find their way through the text. I also decided to switch the location of my pictures and the text in some parts to keep my blog post exciting and the reader entertained!