Multimedia incorporation

The ability to incorporate multiple media within a text is, without question, the most significant allowance of the online medium that cannot be replicated in print. The inclusion of audio streams, for example, either in presenting content or providing background sound can arguably add dimension to an otherwise single-sensory text. Similarly, the incorporation of animation, advanced graphics, or video streams can affect the reception of an argument based on a potentially charged pathetic appeal.

Hypertext critics commonly acknowledge that, because of the use of the hypertextual and/or hypermedia allowances of the medium, web-based texts demand new writing and reading strategies (Bolter, 1991; Lanham, 1993; Carter, 1997; Landow, 1997; Walker, 2006). These new strategies point toward non-textual ways of making meaning. For example, the ability for form to enact content within a web-based text suggests that formal design shares a semiotic role. Additionally, the advent of new media texts—online texts in which the written word is not the “primary rhetorical means”—changes the ways in which readers and writers understand and construct these texts (Ball, 2004). These new forms require readers to understand how non-textual elements combine with text to make meaning. The primary meaning-making methods in web-based texts fall into four categories: (1) purely textual, in which the meaning is derived solely from the text; (2) textual supplemented with visual elements that may enhance the meaning of the text; (3) textual combined with visual and other non-textual elements—video, audio, animation—that enhance the meaning of the webtext; and (4) textual combined with non-textual elements that comprise, or present, the meaning of the webtext. Question 11 in Category B of the assessment tool is designed to describe first the extent to which the webtext incorporates multimedia elements and second, the primary ways of making meaning within the webtext.

Question 11: Multimedia incorporation

a) Composition of the webtext

b) Semiotic nature