In its most basic sense, multimodality is a theory of communication and social semiotics. Multimodality describes communication practices in terms of the textual, aural, linguistic, spatial, and visual resources - or modes - used to compose messages. Where media are concerned, multimodality is the use of several modes (media) to create a single artifact. The collection of these modes, or elements, contributes to how multimodality affects different rhetorical situations, or opportunities for increasing an audience's reception of an idea or concept. Everything from the placement of images to the organization of the content creates meaning. This is the result of a shift from isolated text being relied on as the primary source of communication, to the image being utilized more frequently in the digital age. While multimodality as an area of academic study did not gain traction until the twentieth century, all communication, literacy, and composing practices are and always have been multimodal.
Although discussions of multimodality involve medium and mode, these two terms are not synonymous.
Gunther Kress's scholarship on multimodality is canonical in writing studies, and he defines mode in two ways. In the first, a mode “is a socially and culturally shaped resource for making meaning. Image, writing, layout, speech, moving images are examples of different modes.” In the second, “semiotic modes, similarly, are shaped by both the intrinsic characteristics and potentialities of the medium and by the requirements, histories and values of societies and their cultures.”  Thus, every mode has a different modal resource, which is historically and culturally situated and which breaks it down into its parts, because “each has distinct potentials [and limitations] for meaning.” For example, breaking down writing into its modal resources would be syntactic, grammatical, lexical resources and graphic resources. Graphic resources can be broken down into font size, type, etc. These resources are not deterministic, however. In Kress’s theory, “mode is meaningful: it is shaped by and carries the ‘deep’ ontological and historical/social orientations of a society and its cultures with it into every sign. Mode names the material resources shaped in often long histories of social endeavor.” Modes shape and are shaped by the systems in which they participate. Modes may aggregate into multimodal ensembles, shaped over time into familiar cultural forms, a good example being film, which combines visual modes, modes of dramatic action and speech, music and other sounds. Multimodal work in this field includes van Leeuwen; Bateman and Schmidt; and Burn and Parker's theory of the kineikonic mode.
A medium is the substance in which meaning is realized and through which it becomes available to others. Mediums include video, image, text, audio, etc. Socially, medium includes semiotic, sociocultural, and technological practices such as film, newspaper, a billboard, radio, television, theater, a classroom, etc. Multimodality makes use of the electronic medium by creating digital modes with the interlacing of image, writing, layout, speech, and video. Mediums have become modes of delivery that take the current and future contexts into consideration.
Because multimodality is continually evolving from a solely print-based to a screen-based presentation, the speaker and audience relationship evolves as well. Due to the growing presence of digital media over the last decade, the central mode of representation is no longer just text; recently, the use of imagery has become more prominent. In its current use for Internet and network-based composition, the term “multimodality” has become even more prevalent, applying to various forms of text such as fine art, literature, social media and advertising. An important related term to multimodality is multiliteracy, which is the comprehension of different modes in communication – not only to read text, but also to read other modes such as sound and image. Whether and how a message is understood is accredited to multiliteracy.
Multimodality has developed as a theory throughout the history of writing. The idea of multimodality has been studied since the 4th century BC, when classical rhetoricians alluded to it with their emphasis on voice, gesture, and expressions in public speaking. However, the term was not defined with significance until the 20th century. During this time, an exponential rise in technology created many new modes of presentation. Since then, multimodality has become standard in the 21st century, applying to various network-based forms such as art, literature, social media and advertising. The monomodality, or singular mode, which used to define the presentation of text on a page has been replaced with more complex and integrated layouts. John A. Bateman says in his book Multimodality and Genre, “Nowadays… text is just one strand in a complex presentational form that seamlessly incorporates visual aspect ‘around,’ and sometimes even instead of, the text itself.” Multimodality has quickly become “the normal state of human communication.”
During the 1960s and 1970s, many writers looked to photography, film, and audiotape recordings in order to discover new ideas about composing. This led to a resurgence of a focus on the sensory, self-illustration known as expressionism. Expressionist ways of thinking encouraged writers to find their voice outside of language by placing it in a visual, oral, spatial, or temporal medium. Donald Murray, who is often linked to expressionist methods of teaching writing once said, “As writers it is important that we move out from that which is within us to what we see, feel, hear, smell, and taste of the world around us. A writer is always making use of experience.” Murray instructed his writing students to “see themselves as cameras” by writing down every single visual observation they made for one hour. Expressionist thought emphasized personal growth, and linked the art of writing with all visual art by calling both a type of composition. Also, by making writing the result of a sensory experience, expressionists defined writing as a multisensory experience, and asked for it to have the freedom to be composed across all modes, tailored for all five senses.
During the 1970s and 1980s, multimodality was further developed through cognitive research about learning. Jason Palmeri cites researchers such as James Berlin and Joseph Harris as being important to this development; Berlin and Harris studied alphabetic writing and how its composition compared to art, music, and other forms of creativity. Their research had a cognitive approach which studied how writers thought about and planned their writing process. James Berlin declared that the process of composing writing could be directly compared to that of designing images and sound. Furthermore, Joseph Harris pointed out that alphabetic writing is the result of multimodal cognition. Writers often conceptualize their work by non-alphabetic means, through visual imagery, music, and kinesthetic feelings. This idea was reflected in the popular research of Neil D. Fleming, more commonly known as the neuro-linguistic learning styles. Fleming’s three styles of auditory, kinesthetic, and visual learning helped to explain the modes in which people were best able to learn, create, and interpret meaning. Other researchers such as Linda Flower and John R. Hayes theorized that alphabetic writing, though it is a principal modality, sometimes could not convey the non-alphabetic ideas a writer wished to express.
In the 1990s, multimodality grew in scope with the release of the Internet, personal computers, and other digital technologies. The literacy of the emerging generation changed, becoming accustomed to text circulated in pieces, informally, and across multiple mediums of image, color, and sound. The change represented a fundamental shift in how writing was presented: from print-based to screen-based. Literacy evolved so that students arrived in classrooms being knowledgeable in video, graphics, and computer skills, but not alphabetic writing. Educators had to change their teaching practices to include multimodal lessons in order to help students achieve success in writing for the new millennium.
Every text has its own defined audience, and makes rhetorical decisions to improve the audience’s reception of that same text. In this same manner, multimodality has evolved to become a sophisticated way to appeal to a text’s audience. Relying upon the canons of rhetoric in a different way than before, multimodal texts have the ability to address a larger, yet more focused, intended audience. Multimodality does more than solicit an audience; the effects of multimodality are imbedded in an audience’s semiotic, generic and technological understanding.
The appearance of multimodality, at its most basic level, can change the way an audience perceives information. The most basic understanding of language comes via semiotics – the association between words and symbols. A multimodal text changes its semiotic effect by placing words with preconceived meanings in a new context, whether that context is audio, visual, or digital. This in turn creates a new, foundationally different meaning for an audience. Bezemer and Kress, two scholars on multimodality and semiotics, argue that students understand information differently when text is delivered in conjunction with a secondary medium, such as image or sound, than when it is presented in alphanumeric format only. This is due to it drawing a viewer’s attention to “both the originating site and the site of recontextualization”. Meaning is moved from one medium to the next, which requires the audience to redefine their semiotic connections. Recontextualizing an original text within other mediums creates a different sense of understanding for the audience, and this new type of learning can be controlled by the types of media used.
Multimodality also can be used to associate a text with a specific argumentative purpose, e.g., to state facts, make a definition, cause a value judgment, or make a policy decision. Jeanne Fahnestock and Marie Secor, professors at the University of Maryland and the Pennsylvania State University, labeled the fulfillment of these purposes stases. A text’s stasis can be altered by multimodality, especially when several mediums are juxtaposed to create an individualized experience or meaning. For example, an argument that mainly defines a concept is understood as arguing in the stasis of definition; however, it can also be assigned a stasis of value if the way the definition is delivered equips writers to evaluate a concept, or judge whether something is good or bad. If the text is interactive, the audience is facilitated to create their own meaning from the perspective the multimodal text provides. By emphasizing different stases through the use of different modes, writers are able to further engage their audience in creating comprehension.
Multimodality also obscures an audience’s concept of genre by creating gray areas out of what was once black and white. Carolyn R. Miller, a distinguished professor of rhetoric and technical communication at North Carolina State University observed in her genre analysis of the Weblog how genre shifted with the invention of blogs, stating that “there is strong agreement on the central features that make a blog a blog. Miller defines blogs on the basis of their reverse chronology, frequent updating, and combination of links with personal commentary. However, the central features of blogs are obscured when considering multimodal texts. Some features are absent, such the ability for posts to be independent of each other, while others are present. This creates a situation where the genre of multimodal texts is impossible to define; rather, the genre is dynamic, evolutionary and ever-changing.
The delivery of new texts has radically changed along with technological influence. Composition now consists of the anticipation of future remediation. Writers think about the type of audience a text will be written for, and anticipate how that text might be reformed in the future. Jim Ridolfo coined the term rhetorical velocity to explain a conscious concern for the distance, speed, time, and travel it will take for a third party to rewrite an original composition. The use of recomposition allows for an audience to be involved in a public conversation, adding their own intentionality to the original product. This new method of editing and remediation is attributed to the evolution of digital text and publication, giving technology an important role in writing and composition.
Multimodality has evolved along with technology. This evolution has created a new concept of writing, a collaborative context keeping the reader and writer in relationship. The concept of reading is different with the influence of technology due to the desire for a quick transmission of information. In reference to the influence of multimodality on genre and technology, Professor Anne Frances Wysocki expands on how reading as an action has changed in part because of technology reform: “These various technologies offer perspectives for considering and changing approaches we have inherited to composing and interpreting pages....”. Along with the interconnectedness of media, computer-based technologies are designed to make new texts possible, influencing rhetorical delivery and audience.
The shift from page-based text found in print and screen-based text found on the Internet is causing a redefinition of literacy. While text and image may exist separately, digitally, or in print, their combination gives birth to new forms of literacy and new ways to communicate. Text, whether it is academic, social, or for entertainment purposes, can be accessed in a variety of different ways and edited by several individuals on the Internet. The spoken and written word are not obsolete, but they are no longer the only way to communicate and interpret messages. With the continual growth of new media and the adaptation of old media, there are now numerous mediums to use when communicating. Many mediums can be used separately and individually. Combining and repurposing one to another has contributed to the evolution of different literacies.
Multiliteracy is the concept of understanding information through various methods of communication. With the growth of technology, there are more ways to communicate a message to the world or individuals. Literacies change to incorporate new ways of communication, stemming from new advances or approaches in communication tools, such as text messaging, social media, and blogs. These new methods consist of more than just text or the written word. Things like audio, video, pictures, and animation can now be simultaneously incorporated into communication.
Communication is spread across a medium using different modes, like a blog post accompanied with images and an embedded video. These modes all work to construct meaning through this concept of multimodality. With the introduction of these modes comes the notion of transforming the message. This transformation is accomplished by taking the message of one mode and displaying it in or with another, such as taking a text and incorporating it into a video. However, the message may have been transformed or changed as it goes from one medium to the next. The video could now act as a supplement to the text, much like special features on a DVD, or it could become a piece that reiterates or supports the text, just in a different format. This reshaping of information from one mode to another is known as transduction. As information changes from one mode to the next, how that message is comprehended is attributed to multiliteracy, as the text is understood across a variety of different means.
“Web 2.0” is the term given to encapsulate the dynamic Internet complete with user interaction and multimodality. With the emergence of Web 2.0 and the Internet’s shift to more interactive content, language takes a more visual approach and, while text is still present, it is more fragmented in its delivery. Instead, text is often placed in interaction with visual modes, such as images, video, or interactive content. Social media networks provide good examples of multiliteracy in Web 2.0 environments. Photos, text, and even emoticons can all work together to convey a message to multiple individuals, though the message may be relatively simple. Multiliteracy also covers interactive content. For example, users of YouTube are most likely familiar with the buttons associated with videos and navigating the site, letting them control video playback or create saved playlists. Facebook also incorporates methods of interactivity that communicate whether something is well-received, through “liking” or “sharing” via interactive buttons. These visual, interactive elements are understood by specific Web 2.0 communities and fall under the umbrella of multiliteracy.
As classroom technologies become more prolific, so do multimodal assignments. Students in the 21st century have more options for communicating with each other digitally, be it texting, blogging, or through social media. This rise in computer-controlled communication has required classes to become multimodal in order to teach students the skills required in the 21st-century work environment. However, in the classroom setting, multimodality is more than just combining multiple technologies, but rather creating meaning through the integration of multiple modes. Students are learning through a combination of these modes, including sound, gestures, speech, images and text. For example, in digital components of lessons, there are often pictures, videos, and sound bites as well as the text to help students grasp a better understanding of the subject. Multimodality also requires that teachers move beyond teaching with just text, as the printed word is only one of many modes students must learn and use.
Multimodality in classrooms has brought about the need for a new definition of literacy. According to Gunther Kress, a popular theorist of multimodality, literacy, when defined, usually refers to the combination of letters and words to make messages and meaning and can often be attached to other words in order to express knowledge of the separate fields, such as visual- or computer-literacy. However, as multimodality becomes more common, not only in classrooms, but in work and social environments, the definition of literacy extends. Instead of referring only to reading and alphabetic writing, or being extended to other fields, literacy and its definition now encompass multiple modes. It has become more than just reading and writing, and now includes visual, technological, and social uses among others.
Multimodality has significance within varying communities, such as the private, public, educational, and social communities. Because of multimodality, the private domain is evolving into a public domain in which certain communities function. Because social environments and multimodality mutually influence each other, each community is evolving in its own way.
One shift caused by multi-literate environments is that private-sphere texts are being made more public. The private sphere is described as an environment in which people have a sense of personal authority and are distanced from institutions, such as the government. The family and home are considered to be a part of the private sphere. Family photographs are an example of multimodality in this sphere. Families take pictures (sometimes captioning them) and compile them in albums that are generally meant to be displayed to other family members or audiences that the family allows. These once private albums are entering the public environment of the Internet more often due to the rapid development and adoption of technology.
According to Luc Pauwels, a professor of communication studies at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, “the multimedia context of the Web provides private image makers and storytellers with an increasingly flexible medium for the construction and dissemination of fact and fiction about their lives.” These relatively new website platforms allow families to manipulate photographs and add text, sound, and other design elements. By using these various modes, families can construct a story of their lives that is presented to a potentially universal audience. Pauwels states that “digitized (and possibly digitally ‘adjusted’) family snapshots...may reveal more about the immaterial side of family culture: the values, beliefs, and aspirations of a group of people.” This immaterial side of the family is better demonstrated through the use of multimodality on the Web because certain events and photographs can take precedence over others based on how they are organized on the site, and other visual or audio components can aid in evoking a message.
Another change that has occurred due to the shift from the private environment to the public is audience construction. In the privacy of the home, the family generally targets a specific audience: family members or friends. Once the photographs become public, an entirely new audience is addressed. As Pauwels notes, “the audience may be ignored, warned and offered apologies for the trivial content, directly addressed relating to personal stories, or greeted as highly appreciated publics that need to be entertained and invited to provide feedback."
Things once considered to be solely domestic, such as family photography, are making their public debut. Because of this shift to the Web, families can create a story that communicates a defined message to key audiences—a new affordance of multimodality.
Similar to the evolution of family photography into the digital family album is the evolution of the diary into the personal weblog. As North Carolina State University professors, Carolyn Miller and Dawn Shepherd state, “the weblog phenomenon raises a number of rhetorical issues,… [such as] the peculiar intersection of the public and private that weblogs seem to invite." Bloggers have the opportunity to communicate personal material in a public space, using words, images, sounds, etc. As described in the example above, people can create narratives of their lives in this expanding public community. Miller and Shepherd say that “validation increasingly comes through mediation, that is, from the access and attention and intensification that media provide." Bloggers can create a “real” experience for their audience(s) because of the immediacy of the Internet. A “real” experience refers to “perspectival reality, anchored in the personality of the blogger."
A debate surrounding the pre-digital diary is whether or not this genre is personal or public. Steinitz says that a diary is “an eminently communicative genre." An example is Anne Frank’s diary, which has been published and read widely. Even though this genre has been public as well as private, the weblog allows a writer to use modes other than writing to communicate a message.
Multimodality in the 21st century has caused educational institutions to consider changing the forms of even its traditional aspects of classroom education. According to Hassett and Curwood, authors of Theories and Practices of Multimodal Education, “Print represents only one mode of communication…” and with a rise in digital and Internet literacy, other modes are needed, from visual texts to digital e-books. Other changes occur by integrating music and video with lesson plans during early childhood education; however, such measures are seen as augmenting and increasing literacy for educational communities by introducing new forms, rather than replacing literacy values. In several children’s books released today, written language is no longer the most important factor while producing these books. According to Miller and McVee, authors of Multimodal Composing in Classrooms, “These new literacies do not set aside traditional literacies. Students still need to know how to read and write, but new literacies are integrated." The main purpose of early childhood education is still evident but the form that is now being presented to children is different. Some learning outcomes include – but are not limited to – reading, writing, and language skills. For example, “Multimodal Composing In Classrooms,” written by Miller and McVee, advocates storyboarding as an assignment and says that it “is multimodal in that there is the visual and audio of a film clip, the drawing representation of the film’s images, as well as the written analysis of the scene." According to Roger Essley in his article, "Visual Tools for Differentiating Reading & Writing Instruction," storyboarding is “the origin of all written language. Teachers are able to use storyboards for visual organization to strengthen writing skills and help the writing process. They can be used in brainstorming sessions, problem solving, planning, and much more.
The choice to integrate multimodal forms in the classroom is not accepted unproblematically by everyone in educational communities. In Charles Bazerman’s essay, “The Case for Writing Studies as a Major Discipline,” he states “multimodal compositions are seen in the classrooms across the country but there seems to be a lack of support from the institutions to advance what the instructors are bringing into the classroom." The idea of learning has changed over the years and now, some argue, must adapt to the personal and affective needs of new students. According to Kress and Bezemer, “education has to accommodate to ‘life-long’, ‘life-wide’ learning, that is, learning at all times, by those who demand that their interests be taken with utmost seriousness, in all sites, in all phases of professional and personal life.” As a result, some administrations may be reluctant to institute wide-spread change without assurance of results. In order for classroom communities to be legitimately multimodal, all members of the community must share expectations about what can be done with through integration, requiring a "shift in many educators’ thinking about what constitutes literacy teaching and learning in a world no longer bounded only by print text."
Society and multimodality influence each other mutually. The specific representations available to a community determine the multimodal methods with which it communicates. Based on these representations, communities decide through social interaction how modes are commonly understood. In the same way, these assumptions and determinations of the way multimodality functions can actually create new cultural and social identities. For example, Bezemer and Kress define modes as “socially and culturally shaped resource[s] for making meaning.” According to Bezemer, “In order for something to ‘be a mode,’ there needs to be a shared cultural sense within a community of a set of resources and how these can be organized to realize meaning.” Cultures that pull from different or similar resources of knowledge, understanding, and representations will communicate through different or similar modes. Signs, for instance, are visual modes of communication determined by our daily necessities.
In the same way that cultures define multimodality, multimodality can also influence social structures. In her dissertation, Elizabeth J. Fleitz,a PhD in English with Concentration in Rhetoric and Writing from Bowling Green State University, argues that the cookbook, which she describes as inherently multimodal, is an important feminist rhetorical text. According to Fleitz, women were able to form relationships with other women through communicating in socially acceptable literature like cook books; “As long as the woman fulfills her gender role, little attention is paid to the increasing amount of power she gains in both the private and public spheres.” Women who would have been committed to staying at home could become published authors, gaining a voice in a phallogocentric society without being viewed as threats. Women revised and adapted different modes of writing to fit their own needs. According to Cinthia Gannett, author of "Gender and the Journal," diary writing, which evolved from men’s journal writing, has “integrate[d] and confirm[ed] women’s perceptions of domestic, social, and spiritual life, and invoke a sense of self.” It is these methods of remediation that characterize women’s literature as multimodal. The recipes inside of the cookbooks also qualify as multimodal. Recipes delivered through any medium, whether that be a cookbook or a blog, can be considered multimodal because of the “interaction between body, experience, knowledge, and memory, multimodal literacies” that all relate to one another to create our understanding of the recipe. Recipe exchanging is an opportunity for networking and social interaction. According to Fleitz, “This interaction is undeniably multimodal, as this network “makes do” with alternative forms of communication outside dominant discursive methods, in order to further and promote women’s social and political goals.” Cookbooks are only a singular example of the capacity of multimodality to build community identities, but they aptly demonstrate the nuanced aspects of multimodality. Multimodality does not just encompasses tangible components, such as text, images, sound etc., but it also draws from experiences, prior knowledge, and cultural understanding.
Information is presented through the design of digital media, engaging with multimedia to offer a multimodal principle of composition. Standard words and pictures can be presented as moving images and speech in order to enhance the meaning of words. Joddy Murray wrote in "Composing Multimodality" that both discursive rhetoric and non-discursive rhetoric should be examined in order to see the modes and media used to create such composition. Murray also includes the benefits of multimodality, which lends itself to “acknowledge and build into our writing processes the importance of emotions in textual production, consumption, and distribution; encourage digital literacy as well as nondigital literacy in textual practice. Murray shows a new way of thinking about composition, allowing images to be “sensuous and emotional” symbols of what they do represent, not focusing so much on the “conceptual and abstract.”
Murray writes in his article, through the use of Richard Lanham’s The Electronic World: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts, how “discursive text is in the center of everything we do," going on to say how students coexist in a world that “includes blogs, podcasts, modular community web spaces, cell phone messaging…”, urging for students to be taught how to compose through rhetorical minds in these new, and not-so-new texts. “Cultural changes, and Lanham suggests, refocuses writing theory towards the image”, demonstrating how there is a change in alphabet-to-icon ratios in electronic writing. One of these prime examples can see through the Apple product, the iPhone, in which “emojis” are seen as icons in a separate keyboard to convey what words would have once delivered. Another example is Prezi. Often likened to Microsoft PowerPoint, Prezi is a cloud-based presentation application that allows users to create text, embed video, and make visually aesthetic projects. Prezi’s presentations zoom the eye in, out, up and down to create a multi-dimensional appeal. Users also utilize different media within this medium that is itself unique.
In the public sphere, multimedia popularly refers to implementations of graphics in ads, animations and sounds in commercials, and also areas of overlap. One thought process behind this use of multimedia is that, through technology, a larger audience can be reached through the consumption of different technological mediums, or in some cases, as reported in 2010 through the Kaiser Family Foundation,can "help drive increased consumption". This is a drastic change from five years ago: “8–18 year olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to using media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week)." With the possibility of attaining multi-platform social media and digital advertising campaigns, also comes new regulations from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on how advertisers can communicate with their consumers via social networks. Because multimodal tools are often tied to social networks, it is important to gauge the consumer in these fair practices. Companies like Burberry Group PLC and Lacoste S.A. (fashion houses for Burberry and Lacoste respectively) engage their consumers via the popular blogging site Tumblr; Publix Supermarkets, Inc. and Jeep engage their consumers via Twitter; celebrities and athletic teams/athletes such as Selena Gomez and The Miami Heat also engage their audience via Facebook through means of fan pages. These examples do not limit the presence of these specific entities to a single medium, but offer a wide variety of what is found for each respective source.
Multimedia advertising is the result of animation and graphic designs used to sell products or services. There are various forms of multimedia advertising through videos, online advertising and DVDs, CDs etc. These outlets afford companies the ability to increase their customer base through multimedia advertising. This is a necessary contribution to the marketing of the products and services. For instance, online advertising is a new wave example towards the use of multimedia in advertising that provides many benefits to the online companies and traditional corporations. New technologies today have brought on an evolution of multimedia in advertising and a shift from traditional techniques. The importance of multimedia advertising is significantly increased for companies in their effectiveness to market or sell products and services. Corporate advertising concerns itself with the idea that “Companies are likely to appeal to a broader audience and increase sales through search engine optimization, extensive keyword research, and strategic linking.” The concept behind the advertising platform can span across multiple mediums, yet, at its core, be centered around the same scheme. Coca-Cola ran an overarching “Open Happiness” campaign across multiple media platforms including print ads, web ads, and television commercials. The purpose of this central function was to communicate a common message over multiple platforms to further encourage an audience to buy into a reiterated message. The strength of such campaigns with multimedia, like the Coca-Cola ‘Happiness’ campaign, is that it implements all available mediums - any of which could prove successful with a different audience member.
Social media and digital platforms are ubiquitous in today’s everyday life. These platforms do not operate solely based on their original makeup; they utilize media from other technologies and tools to add multidimensionality to what will be created on their own platform. These added modal features create a more interactive experience for the user.
Prior to Web 2.0’s emergence, most websites listed information with little to no communication with the reader. Within Web 2.0, social media and digital platforms are utilized towards everyday living for businesses, law offices in advertising, etc. Digital platforms begin with the use of mediums along with other technologies and tools to further enhance and improve what will be created on its own platform.
Hashtags (#topic) and user tags (@username) make use of metadata in order to track “trending” topics and to alert users of their name’s use within a post on a social media site. Used by various social media websites (most notably Twitter and Facebook), these features add internal linkage between users and themes.
There are several specific types of digital platforms that use different mediums and modes. One example is a 'blog, a term coined in 1999 as a contraction of “web log,” the foundation of blogging is often attributed to various people in the mid-to-late ‘90s. Within the realm of blogging, videos, images, and other media are often added to otherwise text-only entries in order to generate a more multifaceted read.
Characteristics of a multimodal feature can be seen through the status update option on Facebook. Status updates combine the affordances of personal blogs, Twitter, instant messaging, and texting in a single feature. The 2013 status update button currently prompts a user, “What’s on your mind?” a change from the 2007, “What are you doing right now?” This change was added by Facebook to promote greater flexibility for the user. This multimodal feature allows a user to add text, video, image, links, and tag other users.
The premier microblogging site allows a user to include 140 characters in a single message with the ability to link to other users, websites, and attach pictures. This new media is a platform that is affecting the literacy practice of the current generation by condensing the conversational context of the internet into fewer characters but encapsulating several media.
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