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Electronic Term Paper

Multi-Modality & The Electronic Writing Space

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Need for the New Author

As with any type of text, the writer must ask himself what the purpose of the piece is, who the audience is, and exactly how does the imagery enhance the text. With new media technology, we are moving from an anonymous public to active communities.5 The author must learn to accept that the reader wants to play a more active role in the writing of the text, and thus allow the reader to do so through the use of the alternative modalities available.


In view that hypertext empowers the reader with the ability to interpret the text as and how he wants to, especially since hypertext creates an environment for the reader to map his own reading path, it is then the responsibility of the author to identify a number of interpretative paths which may always be supplemented and subverted by the reader. The relationship between author and reader is thereby reconfigured.


With the multi-modality of the electronic writing space, the author can now present his knowledge or creativity to his readers, if he so wishes, in a variety of media. An interview article may be both accessible on video and as a written feature. When images, written texts and sounds are brought together, new ways of combining iconic and symbolic signs need to be found. Thus, multi-modality does not simply mean adding the visual and aural modes to the textual mode, but the production of whole new, multi-semiotic combinations of representation. This means that the author has to carefully consider the way that he selects and combines the different modalities.


Bush has identified that the human mind does not work in terms of pure indexation of information. Instead,

[i]t operates by association. With one item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the association of thoughts, in accordance with some intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain.6

Hence, it is only beneficial for the author for him to identify, with the visual and aural modalities, the possible associations that can help the reader to better associate with the concept or story which he is telling.


The author should also use the new media genre to arrange information in a rationale, intelligent form and provide functionality to users,7 as noted by Liew. For this to be possible, the author hence must be able to know how to use these semiotic tools to his advantage. This means that the author has to face the challenge of self-renewal if he wants to survive in this new playing field.

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