Before giving examples of multimodal forms of communication, I think it would be beneficial to clarify the difference between multimodality and multimedia. Multimodality is the combination of modes of communication (whether it be through text, visuals, animations, sounds, etc) used to deliver a message to a particular audience. The combination of modes do not need to be the final deliverable to an audience, so long as multiple modes are used in order to reach the final message. Multimedia, however, is a term used to describe the final deliverable. Claire Laurer, through her piece entitled Contending with Terms: “Multimodal” and “Multimedia” in the Academic and Public Spheres, gives the CD-Rom as an example. The CD-Rom is the final deliverable, which uses and relies on a combination of media to deliver its message. However, something that is multimodal wouldn’t be enclosed in a CD-Rom, because the CD-Rom is merely one media/mode. In order for a CD-Rom to ever be considered multimodal, it would have to be in combination with other modes and other media, such as a piece requiring the use of the CD-Rom, in addition to text being projected onto a wall with audio playing in the background intended to communicate ideas to an audience.
YouTube (What is New Media?)
YouTube is the epitome of a multimodal form of communicating ideas across wide audiences. The below video is perfect in illustrating Claire Lauer’s definition of multimodality through its combination of multiple modes (text, visuals, visual effects, audio, animation, etc) that are operated by a single user (the narrator, Dan Brown) through one interface (youtube.com and its video player) by showing that, although monomodal communication does not require the interdependence of media to deliver a message, multimodal communication requires the interdependence of modes and media to deliver messages. For example, a physical copy of a book (the mode) only requires one medium (the text) in order to deliver the information to the audience (the reader). However, the same book (the mode) read on a kindle (another mode) requires multiple media (the text, animation of turning pages, and other visual cues) in order for the full multmodal effect to be delivered to the audience (the reader). As if the video itself wasn’t clear enough to illustrate such multimodal communication, the content within gives a good definition of new media and various multimodal forms of new media.�
Twitter (Twitter Art Projects)
Another good way of illustrating multimodality is by looking at Twitter. Twitter uses various modes to communicate information to their audience. For example, not only do they use text, but they allow for the attachment of images into tweets, to be delivered to their audiences through various modes of mobile applications (TweetDeck, TwitBird Pro, Twitterific), online communication (twitter.com), and desktop applications (TweetDeck, Twhirl). Where Twitter allows the various modes of communicating ideas to their audiences (through images and text), they don’t require that both be used. The user has a choice in what information they relay.
Twitter has been used amongst the masses as a tool used to convey a wide range of ideas. To give a specific example of twitter as a multimodal tool, the following link outlines a multitude of twitter art projects. Whether it be the picture mosaic created from tweets matched to flickr photos, or the twitter fountain that generates continually changing artwork from tweets and images, twitter’s multimodal applications have allowed for the further integration of modes and media.
facebook (The facebook Project)
As anyone reading this blog already knows, facebook is one of the biggest forms of social media to exist today. It’s a perfect example of multimodality through its combination of text, image, video, animation, etc. It also is available through online communication directly on facebook.com andthrough facebook mobile applications that allow for the same interactivity offered through the site. Again, this is not multimedia as the combination of modes and media are not required to be used simultaneously in order to deliver a message. The final deliverable is never the same, whereas something considered multimedia, such as a DVD or CD-Rom, will always have the same restrictions no matter the amount of information within that medium.
The facebook Project is a great example of facebook being used as a multimodal tool where the combination of media such as plain text, imagery, wikis, blogs, etc. are used to portray facebook as the huge impactful social medium that is is.