A New Multimodal Look on the World

As I sat in a coffee shop reading Writer/Designer’s “What are Multimodal Projects?”, I looked around and noticed numerous multimodal texts. From the menu plastered on the wall, to the front page news spread on the table next to me, to various advertisements posted on the cork board wall, my awareness of these multimodal projects led me to notice new methods of communication in my every day life. The five modes of communication mentioned in the reading, visual, aural, gestural, spatial, and linguistic, work together in various texts to convey a specific purpose. When I looked around over the past few days at different multimodal projects with an analytical eye, I discovered how these different modes are strategically used.

The first multimodal text I noticed after reading about the topic was our assigned reading itself. This chapter from a book utilized the linguistic mode, particularly a writing style geared towards college students, to best relay the information about multimodal projects. Additionally, there are various different types of text in this piece so the concepts can be best described, including bolding or italicizing important words and phrases, boxing off examples to give the reader context, and placing descriptive captions with the images. These images also add a visual mode to the text. Physical examples for the reader to engage in helps enhance understanding of the material. Additionally, the layout of the titles, body text, images, and boxed off examples show the spacial mode used in this reading. The reader can easily flow through this text and the examples are included in specific locations to compliment the information on the same page.

Another text, one that actually used all five modes is an advertisement for Brita Stream that popped up on my Instagram feed. The linguistic mode of communication is perhaps the most obvious in this advertisement, as it is a video with a written title, caption, speech, and subtitles. The words spoken by the actors in the video all contribute to the videos purpose, convincing the viewer to feel that a Brita Stream would improve his or her life. Additionally, the title and caption of the video ensures that the viewer knows explicitly what the message of the video is. Aural elements such as background music and sound effects are incorporated into the video to add the drama necessary to make the ad effective.  The blue color of the words gives the ad continuity by matching with the Brita brand, demonstrating the visual mode. Additionally, the large size of the text above the video reading “Bottled Water Can Ruin Your Life” catches the viewers attention while scrolling through an Instagram feed. The gestural is also important in the video because the way the characters interacted with each other was crucial to delivering the persuasive purpose behind the ad. And finally, spatial mode is relevant, as there is a tab below the video where the viewer can conveniently click to get more information and buy the product.

Another text I noticed in my life that included all five modes is a powerpoint presentation for a meeting I went to earlier today, a workshop for an audience of 70+ women who are preparing to work with the freshman going through the sorority recruitment process. The powerpoint included text, the linguistic mode, and specifically, a lack of excessive text proved to serve the purpose of the presentation best, which was to relay a significant amount of logistical information. Just a few phrases per slide allowed the presenter to speak out loud, bringing in the aural mode. By speaking out loud in addition to showing text on the screen, the presenter was able to emphasize certain parts with her volume and tone, along with engaging the audience with questions. This also touches on the gestural mode, as the presenters maintained a friendly and informal tone with the audience. This made them relatable, and therefore trustworthy deliverers of the information. Spacial mode was prevalent in the presentation, as well, because the presenters organized the powerpoint in a specific way to allow for break activities after giving a lot of information to optimize the audience’s attention. Finally, a video at the end of the presentation tied in visual elements.

These texts are just three of the many multimodal texts I’ve encountered over the past couple of days. They are all different because they serve different purposes and have different main formats, but they are all similar because they utilize multiple modes of communication to convey their message. Additionally, I noticed a pattern in all of the texts that two or more modes could be intertwined, and work together to convey an idea. Now, I better understand the strengths and weaknesses of these different modes and the variety of choices I have as a writer when formatting a text.

One thought to “A New Multimodal Look on the World”

  1. Your analysis of the multimodal texts in the coffee shop demonstrates how these texts are all around us and we rarely take note of them. In short, they are the way information is shared and make up the world around us. You also made a strong point with the Brita ad because advertisements depend on multimodal genres to make the product more than just a product. A company looks to attach their product to a larger idea when selling it, making it more. Apple attaches their computers to freedom and creativity. Coke attaches their drinks to nostalgia. Disney attaches their characters to adventure. All of these advertisement efforts depend on multimodal pieces to build that larger idea up.

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