I decided to conduct an experiment on multimodality on just another regular Friday afternoon. Over the course of my day, I recorded my encounters with a variety of texts which all incorporated modality differently.
On my way to work, I encountered the first multimodal text of the day: a text message from one of my best friends.
My first instinct, of course, was to note down this text’s utilization of modality. The incorporation of linguistic and visual modes was immediately obvious, as the text used both words and a picture. Gestural mode was used in conjunction with visual mode: the way the dog is sitting is very indicative of the “energy” my friend is referring to.
Once I was at work, I ran across my second multimodal text: a recently published research paper that I was tasked with summarizing.
Again, linguistic mode was easy to recognize. The tone of this paper was very different from my friend’s text message, as this was a research paper and had to not only give background on a fairly complex topic, but also cater to a large audience of academics. The paper organized itself into paragraphs, used appropriate grammar, and did not have any photos of adorable dogs.
Visual and spatial modes are also important parts of this text. Looking at the font, spacing, and margins of this paper immediately categorizes it as a research paper. The authors chose to highlight an important point made in the paper by putting the pull quote in a different font and color, using both visual and spatial modality.
The final multimodal text of my Friday was a conversation with an old friend over dinner. In terms of modality, gestural mode came into the picture first. Things started off a little awkward, as we hadn’t seen each other in over two years. After ten minutes though, we were back to our normal selves, and that was clear from our body language. We went out to dinner at Sava’s, which immediately influenced the spatial mode of our interaction – we were seated across from each other at a high-top table. I was surprised to see aural mode make its way into our interaction as well: she had picked up a slight accent and different vocal tics from living abroad for so long.
One thing this experiment taught me is how interconnected all the modes are – most modes, if not all of them, overlap with each other. Maybe for that reason, I had trouble finding a medium which used all five modes in distinct ways. I think the coolest thing about modes is how they are combined with each other, depending on the purpose of the text. Going forward, I am definitely going to be more cognizant of why an author decided to make use of a certain mode over another – what were they trying to accomplish? Who are they trying to reach?