Final Reflection:

What is good multimedia?

After taking the multimedia writing course, I’ve began to understand what good multimedia writing is. In my understanding of what I’ve appreciated from multimedia writing, it’s the use of various tools that weave aspects of creativity and interaction within writing, creating the ability to inform and educate in ways that are unorthodox and often tastefully done. This can be done through the traditional use of video and audio, combined with an enticing layout, or it can be expanded to various other tactics. For example, the New York Times often utilizes maps that provide different facts and views as you scroll throughout the page, the media dictating how the viewer navigates the website as the map moves with them.

Use of maps within the New York Time’s article, “Miles of Ice Collapsing Into the Sea”

Use of maps within the New York Time’s article, “Miles of Ice Collapsing Into the Sea”

As a whole, multimedia writing is always changing and evolving to be something that is new and while also building off of the basis of what multimedia writing grew from. As a form of writing, it has developed to become one that is actively challenging restrictions that once defined the borders of multimedia expression, constantly allowing change to happen which is frequently promoted by advancing technologies.

Through the changes taking place within multimedia writing, through technological advances and a freedom within expression, our understandings of topic are also changing. What I would have considered good multimedia writing two years ago is vastly different to what I consider good multimedia writing today, specifically in the ways in publications are able to be explorative with the content they are creating, and how they are able to explore creativity with page layouts.

As multimedia writing is always changing, our judgement upon what “good” multimedia is to be evolving as well. Through the readings, I learned that our judgements can’t be constrained by the ways past publishing and writing dictated what was “good.” As stated within Scott McCloud’s “Chapter 6: Understanding Comics,” most work, specifically comics, are enveloped within “the curse of being judged by the standards of the old.” There is a need to not allow standards of the old, that were created and maneuvered in a time that was both technologically, as well as socially different, to limit our ability to create works that pertain to current communities and peoples.

Therefore, my understanding of what “good” multimedia writing is one that is constantly evolving as new pieces are being created that utilize new tactics of writing and composing media, most of which challenge and pave the way for future writers, like myself, to create ever improving work.

How does media shape communities?

Media has the ability to sculpt narratives that often go unheard or go unimagined. Through the utilization of media, stories are able to be told with a new depth that surpasses past tactics of journalism, specifically in the creation of visual components that draw upon a sense of connectivity and compassion between the viewer and the people they are learning about. Rather than just describing with words, the viewer is taken into the lives of the subject through visual components, they are able to hear the intonation of their voice, the way their home is decorated, how certain characteristics come together to form the person as a unique individual, all of which are cultivated through media. Therefore, character development is promoted within multimedia writing, which can develop a sense of community as people are able to connect to one another on experiences and lessons that are depicted within the media.

Media also enables stories to be told free of restrictions, in their ability to lack the physicality of words and instead educate in more fluid formats. For example, media may allow audio to be the primary form of projecting information, or a video, or various other tools that media is allowed to utilize. Through this, typical notions of storytelling, specifically within journalistic formats are negated as media comes in as a replacement, therefore forming more approachable stories that are able to connect with larger groups of communities, thus promoting a richer sense of community.

As well as this, social media prioritizes the use of videos in order to spread information, thus when stories are created in a way that are able to be easily accessed in terms of information, social media sites grab onto them, often allowing stories to go viral. For example, when an article describing the experiences of folks is shared it receives less attention than a two minute video that is able to present the information in accessible and concise forms as more people are willing to watch and share a video over reading an article. Further communities are educated on specific topics, which alongside the use of more accessible stories, continues to promote larger audiences and stronger ties with one another.

What presumptions did you have before you started the class?

Prior to taking the course, I simply thought of multimedia as implementing photos and videos within writing in order to tell a story. Although photos and videos do play a vital element within much of the multimedia writing that is produced, there are various other factors and components that can come together to make a piece engaging.

Historically, the use of words and images formed the basis of what multimedia writing was to become, with news publications utilizing advancing printing presses to produce content that allowed images and words to be paired alongside one another.

However multimedia now has grown to encompass various other tactics that surpass just the use of photo and words, for example with the implementation of video, but also more vast ways of encompassing audiences through interactive processes to expand what the term “multimedia” is able to mean.

There were various tools that were mentioned by Knight and Starin within their website that begin to explore the various ways multimedia has grown to be term that is vast and continuously changing. An idea that hadn’t come to mind before was that of co authoring, which presented the idea of a sculpting work where the relationship between the writer and the reader is based around collaboration and creation, thus allowing the final product to be one that is co authored. Instead of a reader just passively going through a piece of writing, as is common in many forms of publication, they are able to become “actors and participants” within the piece. Knight and Starin mentioned various tactics for executing this, for example allowing the reader to write out parts of the story, that would be saved within the piece, thus creating their own touch on the writing. Other ideas could include the importation of photos, audio, etc. belonging to the reader, thus creating a visually co authored piece.

As well as this meanings of co authoring were also mentioned in the ability to like and comment on posts, which in itself can add new meaning to a story and enable more information to be brought forth. For example, whenever I read stories online, specifically on social media, I look at the comment sections of the writing to see if others agree or disagree with the piece, in particular if any concerns about validity of facts have arisen from the topic which can offer vital information to the piece or what it may be missing.

Therefore, my preconceived assumptions that multimedia writing only consisted of photo of video were challenged by the readings which enabled me to understand that multimedia writing is extremely vast and entails various tactics of implementing media in order to educate, and allow readers voices to be heard.

As well as this, I came into the class with the preconceived notion that many forms of multimedia and writing are seen as emotionless, specifically forms of writing related towards journalism. However, I’ve learned that within multimedia writing, the use of emotion can be utilized as a tool of storytelling in order to connect viewers and readers with the topics at hand. This was described by Knight and Starin as "[the use of] psychology and craftsmanship to create an experience for users that makes them feel like there's a person, not a machine, at the other end of the connection.” The use of emotion within design and execution of storytelling is crucial in connecting readers to content and something that creators of multimedia pieces should be orienting their focus upon. Through the use of video, audio, and photo, readers are able to be connected with subjects and creators in ways that words by themselves are unable to do.

How multimedia writing was used in the final project for the course?

There were various aspects within the final project that utilized multimedia writing, the first being the use of interactive aspects on the website that enabled the user to have a sense of autonomy in their ability to navigate the website. Often, what I would find most enjoyable within multimedia sites is that there is an opportunity to navigate the story in a unique way that may differ from others when you have the ability to choose which story to read first which can dictate how you view the story. Within the selection of stories, a sense of fluidity is created that allows them to be continually changing yet informing, as was seen within our project.

Secondly, the traditional use of multimedia, that being photo and video, was important within the entirety of the story as it brought further life to the characters and who they are. The ability to hear their voices, see their mannerisms, the ways they exemplified passion about their creative processes, all provided a unique experience in the ability to get to know them and why they continue to create. This was executed through a series of videos that consisted of interviews with the subjects, as well as photos of their work and their process of creating, all of which connected the writing to the characters, further developing the story.

Reflecting back on the story, I feel as though there were various other things we could have added to the story in order to make it even more interactive, the main idea that comes to mind is a comment section; a space where readers are able to voice their opinions on the piece and offer advice, thoughts, etc. Through this the reader is actually able to have a voice within the piece, to share their own experiences and how they connect to the stories.