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Writing Guide with Handbook

18.7 Spotlight on . . . Technology

Writing Guide with Handbook18.7 Spotlight on . . . Technology
  1. Preface
  2. The Things We Carry: Experience, Culture, and Language
    1. Unit Introduction
    2. 1 The Digital World: Building on What You Already Know to Respond Critically
      1. Introduction
      2. 1.1 "Reading" to Understand and Respond
      3. 1.2 Social Media Trailblazer: Selena Gomez
      4. 1.3 Glance at Critical Response: Rhetoric and Critical Thinking
      5. 1.4 Annotated Student Sample: Social Media Post and Responses on Voter Suppression
      6. 1.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About a “Text”
      7. 1.6 Evaluation: Intention vs. Execution
      8. 1.7 Spotlight on … Academia
      9. 1.8 Portfolio: Tracing Writing Development
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    3. 2 Language, Identity, and Culture: Exploring, Employing, Embracing
      1. Introduction
      2. 2.1 Seeds of Self
      3. 2.2 Identity Trailblazer: Cathy Park Hong
      4. 2.3 Glance at the Issues: Oppression and Reclamation
      5. 2.4 Annotated Sample Reading from The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
      6. 2.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about How Identity Is Constructed Through Writing
      7. 2.6 Evaluation: Antiracism and Inclusivity
      8. 2.7 Spotlight on … Variations of English
      9. 2.8 Portfolio: Decolonizing Self
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    4. 3 Literacy Narrative: Building Bridges, Bridging Gaps
      1. Introduction
      2. 3.1 Identity and Expression
      3. 3.2 Literacy Narrative Trailblazer: Tara Westover
      4. 3.3 Glance at Genre: The Literacy Narrative
      5. 3.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
      6. 3.5 Writing Process: Tracing the Beginnings of Literacy
      7. 3.6 Editing Focus: Sentence Structure
      8. 3.7 Evaluation: Self-Evaluating
      9. 3.8 Spotlight on … The Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN)
      10. 3.9 Portfolio: A Literacy Artifact
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
      13. Works Consulted
  3. Bridging the Divide Between Personal Identity and Academia
    1. Unit Introduction
    2. 4 Memoir or Personal Narrative: Learning Lessons from the Personal
      1. Introduction
      2. 4.1 Exploring the Past to Understand the Present
      3. 4.2 Memoir Trailblazer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
      4. 4.3 Glance at Genre: Conflict, Detail, and Revelation
      5. 4.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
      6. 4.5 Writing Process: Making the Personal Public
      7. 4.6 Editing Focus: More on Characterization and Point of View
      8. 4.7 Evaluation: Structure and Organization
      9. 4.8 Spotlight on … Multilingual Writers
      10. 4.9 Portfolio: Filtered Memories
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    3. 5 Profile: Telling a Rich and Compelling Story
      1. Introduction
      2. 5.1 Profiles as Inspiration
      3. 5.2 Profile Trailblazer: Veronica Chambers
      4. 5.3 Glance at Genre: Subject, Angle, Background, and Description
      5. 5.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Remembering John Lewis” by Carla D. Hayden
      6. 5.5 Writing Process: Focusing on the Angle of Your Subject
      7. 5.6 Editing Focus: Verb Tense Consistency
      8. 5.7 Evaluation: Text as Personal Introduction
      9. 5.8 Spotlight on … Profiling a Cultural Artifact
      10. 5.9 Portfolio: Subject as a Reflection of Self
      11. Works Cited
    4. 6 Proposal: Writing About Problems and Solutions
      1. Introduction
      2. 6.1 Proposing Change: Thinking Critically About Problems and Solutions
      3. 6.2 Proposal Trailblazer: Atul Gawande
      4. 6.3 Glance at Genre: Features of Proposals
      5. 6.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Slowing Climate Change” by Shawn Krukowski
      6. 6.5 Writing Process: Creating a Proposal
      7. 6.6 Editing Focus: Subject-Verb Agreement
      8. 6.7 Evaluation: Conventions, Clarity, and Coherence
      9. 6.8 Spotlight on … Technical Writing as a Career
      10. 6.9 Portfolio: Reflecting on Problems and Solutions
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    5. 7 Evaluation or Review: Would You Recommend It?
      1. Introduction
      2. 7.1 Thumbs Up or Down?
      3. 7.2 Review Trailblazer: Michiko Kakutani
      4. 7.3 Glance at Genre: Criteria, Evidence, Evaluation
      5. 7.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Black Representation in Film" by Caelia Marshall
      6. 7.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Entertainment
      7. 7.6 Editing Focus: Quotations
      8. 7.7 Evaluation: Effect on Audience
      9. 7.8 Spotlight on … Language and Culture
      10. 7.9 Portfolio: What the Arts Say About You
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    6. 8 Analytical Report: Writing from Facts
      1. Introduction
      2. 8.1 Information and Critical Thinking
      3. 8.2 Analytical Report Trailblazer: Barbara Ehrenreich
      4. 8.3 Glance at Genre: Informal and Formal Analytical Reports
      5. 8.4 Annotated Student Sample: "U.S. Response to COVID-19" by Trevor Garcia
      6. 8.5 Writing Process: Creating an Analytical Report
      7. 8.6 Editing Focus: Commas with Nonessential and Essential Information
      8. 8.7 Evaluation: Reviewing the Final Draft
      9. 8.8 Spotlight on … Discipline-Specific and Technical Language
      10. 8.9 Portfolio: Evidence and Objectivity
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    7. 9 Rhetorical Analysis: Interpreting the Art of Rhetoric
      1. Introduction
      2. 9.1 Breaking the Whole into Its Parts
      3. 9.2 Rhetorical Analysis Trailblazer: Jamil Smith
      4. 9.3 Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies
      5. 9.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Rhetorical Analysis: Evicted by Matthew Desmond” by Eliana Evans
      6. 9.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about Rhetoric
      7. 9.6 Editing Focus: Mixed Sentence Constructions
      8. 9.7 Evaluation: Rhetorical Analysis
      9. 9.8 Spotlight on … Business and Law
      10. 9.9 Portfolio: How Thinking Critically about Rhetoric Affects Intellectual Growth
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    8. 10 Position Argument: Practicing the Art of Rhetoric
      1. Introduction
      2. 10.1 Making a Case: Defining a Position Argument
      3. 10.2 Position Argument Trailblazer: Charles Blow
      4. 10.3 Glance at Genre: Thesis, Reasoning, and Evidence
      5. 10.4 Annotated Sample Reading: "Remarks at the University of Michigan" by Lyndon B. Johnson
      6. 10.5 Writing Process: Creating a Position Argument
      7. 10.6 Editing Focus: Paragraphs and Transitions
      8. 10.7 Evaluation: Varied Appeals
      9. 10.8 Spotlight on … Citation
      10. 10.9 Portfolio: Growth in the Development of Argument
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    9. 11 Reasoning Strategies: Improving Critical Thinking
      1. Introduction
      2. 11.1 Developing Your Sense of Logic
      3. 11.2 Reasoning Trailblazer: Paul D. N. Hebert
      4. 11.3 Glance at Genre: Reasoning Strategies and Signal Words
      5. 11.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Book VII of The Republic by Plato
      6. 11.5 Writing Process: Reasoning Supported by Evidence
      7. Further Reading
      8. Works Cited
    10. 12 Argumentative Research: Enhancing the Art of Rhetoric with Evidence
      1. Introduction
      2. 12.1 Introducing Research and Research Evidence
      3. 12.2 Argumentative Research Trailblazer: Samin Nosrat
      4. 12.3 Glance at Genre: Introducing Research as Evidence
      5. 12.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth" by Lily Tran
      6. 12.5 Writing Process: Integrating Research
      7. 12.6 Editing Focus: Integrating Sources and Quotations
      8. 12.7 Evaluation: Effectiveness of Research Paper
      9. 12.8 Spotlight on … Bias in Language and Research
      10. 12.9 Portfolio: Why Facts Matter in Research Argumentation
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    11. 13 Research Process: Accessing and Recording Information
      1. Introduction
      2. 13.1 The Research Process: Where to Look for Existing Sources
      3. 13.2 The Research Process: How to Create Sources
      4. 13.3 Glance at the Research Process: Key Skills
      5. 13.4 Annotated Student Sample: Research Log
      6. 13.5 Research Process: Making Notes, Synthesizing Information, and Keeping a Research Log
      7. 13.6 Spotlight on … Ethical Research
      8. Further Reading
      9. Works Cited
    12. 14 Annotated Bibliography: Gathering, Evaluating, and Documenting Sources
      1. Introduction
      2. 14.1 Compiling Sources for an Annotated Bibliography
      3. 14.2 Glance at Form: Citation Style, Purpose, and Formatting
      4. 14.3 Annotated Student Sample: “Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth” by Lily Tran
      5. 14.4 Writing Process: Informing and Analyzing
      6. Further Reading
      7. Works Cited
    13. 15 Case Study Profile: What One Person Says About All
      1. Introduction
      2. 15.1 Tracing a Broad Issue in the Individual
      3. 15.2 Case Study Trailblazer: Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
      4. 15.3 Glance at Genre: Observation, Description, and Analysis
      5. 15.4 Annotated Sample Reading: Case Study on Louis Victor "Tan" Leborgne
      6. 15.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About How People and Language Interact
      7. 15.6 Editing Focus: Words Often Confused
      8. 15.7 Evaluation: Presentation and Analysis of Case Study
      9. 15.8 Spotlight on … Applied Linguistics
      10. 15.9 Portfolio: Your Own Uses of Language
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
  4. Navigating Rhetoric in Real Life
    1. Unit Introduction
    2. 16 Print or Textual Analysis: What You Read
      1. Introduction
      2. 16.1 An Author’s Choices: What Text Says and How It Says It
      3. 16.2 Textual Analysis Trailblazer: bell hooks
      4. 16.3 Glance at Genre: Print or Textual Analysis
      5. 16.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Artists at Work" by Gwyn Garrison
      6. 16.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Text
      7. 16.6 Editing Focus: Literary Works Live in the Present
      8. 16.7 Evaluation: Self-Directed Assessment
      9. 16.8 Spotlight on … Humanities
      10. 16.9 Portfolio: The Academic and the Personal
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    3. 17 Image Analysis: What You See
      1. Introduction
      2. 17.1 “Reading” Images
      3. 17.2 Image Trailblazer: Sara Ludy
      4. 17.3 Glance at Genre: Relationship Between Image and Rhetoric
      5. 17.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Hints of the Homoerotic” by Leo Davis
      6. 17.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically and Writing Persuasively About Images
      7. 17.6 Editing Focus: Descriptive Diction
      8. 17.7 Evaluation: Relationship Between Analysis and Image
      9. 17.8 Spotlight on … Video and Film
      10. 17.9 Portfolio: Interplay Between Text and Image
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    4. 18 Multimodal and Online Writing: Creative Interaction between Text and Image
      1. Introduction
      2. 18.1 Mixing Genres and Modes
      3. 18.2 Multimodal Trailblazer: Torika Bolatagici
      4. 18.3 Glance at Genre: Genre, Audience, Purpose, Organization
      5. 18.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Celebrating a Win-Win” by Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
      6. 18.5 Writing Process: Create a Multimodal Advocacy Project
      7. 18.6 Evaluation: Transitions
      8. 18.7 Spotlight on . . . Technology
      9. 18.8 Portfolio: Multimodalism
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    5. 19 Scripting for the Public Forum: Writing to Speak
      1. Introduction
      2. 19.1 Writing, Speaking, and Activism
      3. 19.2 Podcast Trailblazer: Alice Wong
      4. 19.3 Glance at Genre: Language Performance and Visuals
      5. 19.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Are New DOT Regulations Discriminatory?” by Zain A. Kumar
      6. 19.5 Writing Process: Writing to Speak
      7. 19.6 Evaluation: Bridging Writing and Speaking
      8. 19.7 Spotlight on … Delivery/Public Speaking
      9. 19.8 Portfolio: Everyday Rhetoric, Rhetoric Every Day
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    6. 20 Portfolio Reflection: Your Growth as a Writer
      1. Introduction
      2. 20.1 Thinking Critically about Your Semester
      3. 20.2 Reflection Trailblazer: Sandra Cisneros
      4. 20.3 Glance at Genre: Purpose and Structure
      5. 20.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Don’t Expect Congrats” by Dale Trumbore
      6. 20.5 Writing Process: Looking Back, Looking Forward
      7. 20.6 Editing Focus: Pronouns
      8. 20.7 Evaluation: Evaluating Self-Reflection
      9. 20.8 Spotlight on … Pronouns in Context
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
  5. Handbook
  6. Index

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Implement a variety of technologies while matching them to environments used to address rhetorical situations.
  • Match the capacities of different modes and media to various rhetorical situations.

Technology is a crucial element in multimodal composition. In fact, the emergence of digital technology has vastly changed the landscape of multimodal composition in recent years. The rise of technology has resulted in new communication and composition practices in people’s social, academic, and professional lives. Technology also plays a role in the rhetorical approach to writing and composition, increasing the complexity of expression, communication, and persuasion. Indeed, technology has both challenged and transformed long-held ideas about what it means to write.

Within the genre of multimodal composition, there is a growing call for design advocacy, part of which means redefining and recontextualizing the rhetoric of design to make multimodal compositions more inclusive not only for those with differing abilities but also for those marginalized according to social, technological, and cultural equity.

Digital Deserts

One challenge posed by the incorporation of technology in multimodal composition is the presence of digital deserts, or places affected by a digital divide, where residents have no access to the high-speed internet connections required to consume and create digital media. The Federal Communications Commission produced data indicating that in 2017, 21.3 million Americans lacked access to high-speed internet service, and of those people, 2.2 million households had no internet access at all. Studies show that this data may be understated, with even more people living in digital deserts. Rural parts of the country are disproportionately affected, but people living in low-income urban areas make up a significant portion of these numbers.

To participate in the consumption or creation of most multimodal composition, students need access to high-speed internet, defined by the FCC as a download speed of 25 Mbps and an upload speed of 3 Mbps. When no such access exists, cultural, social, and educational disparities arise within the genre of multimodal literature. Students who have less access to the technology required to read, view, or create multimodal works are excluded from this relatively new form of literature, leading to cultural underrepresentation and placing them at academic and social disadvantages.

Enhancing Usability and Accessibility

Other considerations affecting multimodal compositions are usability and accessibility for readers of differing abilities. These may be associated with speech, hearing, vision, and/or motor impairments, among others. Universal accessibility aims to produce content that all people, regardless of abilities, can use, often with assistive technologies, solutions, and tools. Although new fields within the education landscape, such as universal design, have made great strides in usability and accessibility, multimodal content can enhance these strides in unique ways for students and for all consumers of multimodal compositions.

Multimodal compositions often include interaction constraints. These can be thought of as filters that limit a user’s ability to access consumer content effectively. For example, a person who has vision impairment may experience interaction constraints when attempting to consume a photo essay. This constraint can be eased through technologies that help make the media more meaningful, such as text and audio alternatives that help the user experience the composition in a way similar to its original form.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are intended to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. However, creators of multimodal compositions can adapt and apply WCAG rules and principles, such as those discussed below, even to compositions that are not web based.

Provide Informative Titles and Headings

Content titles and headlines that accurately describe and distinguish the composition from others are helpful for contextualizing the composition. A headline usually refers to a composition within something larger, such as an article in a magazine, whereas a title encompasses an entire entity in itself, such as a novel or story that stands on its own. Consider the headline of the blog post you read earlier, “Celebrating a Win-Win: 30 Years of Progress under the Pollution Prevention Act.” This headline is informative, telling the audience that the post is about the progress of the Pollution Prevention Act. It also informs readers of the author’s perspective on this topic, clearly indicating her belief in the success of the act. For the photo essay about the war in Syria, the student writer revised the original headline to the more specific and meaningful Remnants of War—Syria.

Use Headings and Subheads to Convey Meaning and Structure

Headings and short subheads group related information, clearly describe sections of text or media, and provide an outline of the content. Although they are a standard feature of informational texts, headings and subheads can be explored within multimodal compositions as organizational and accessibility features, as they are used in the poster shown in Figure 18.24, United Nations poster. The subheads clarify the structure of the composition, indicating features such as the introduction and author’s objectives, and provide transitions between sections.

Make Link Text Meaningful

When using hyperlinks within a multimodal composition, write text that describes the content of the link target. Instead of using vague text such as “click here” or simply using the URL as the hyperlink, use the opportunity to include relevant information about the content of the link. This added content serves as a transition and emphasizes the relationship between the media. Alexandra Dapolito Dunn does this in the blog post in Annotated Sample Reading, specifying in her text the content of the link used:

President Trump acknowledged the effectiveness of these and other EPA programs in a 2018 Executive Order that directed federal agencies to use EPA’s P2 resources to meet their statutory sustainable purchasing requirements.

Write Meaningful Text Alternatives for Graphics

All images and other graphic representations should have meaningful alternative text that helps readers understand the information portrayed in the image and its significance to the function of the composition. Consider Figure 18.26:

A large crowd of soccer fans waves national flags as they cheer for their teams.
Figure 18.26 Masses waving flags excitedly cheer for their national soccer teams. (credit: “Long Street party, Final Draw, FIFA 2010 World Cup Cape Town, South Africa “by flowcomm/flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Briefly, the caption provides context and any other important information that cannot be gathered simply by looking at the image. Alternative (Alt) text, in contrast, describes only the information that can be gathered by simply looking at the image (the “what the image shows” part of the caption sentence). Alt text for this image might read “Large crowd of soccer fans waves national flags.” Alternative text is imperative for those who have vision impairments because it enables them fuller comprehension of the media.

Create Transcripts and Captions for Media

Audiovisual content, such as videos and podcasts, can be especially challenging for users with visual or auditory disabilities. Therefore, include clear and specific transcripts and captions to guide users through content in your multimodal compositions. In video transcripts, describe visual content (for example, “Joey enters the room” whenever that action occurs). For audio content, include text that indicates spoken information and other sound that is important for understanding the content (for example, “Trumpets softly play the national anthem in the background”). Again, these small additions make your multimodal media accessible to consumers of all abilities.

Two illustrated people appear with a text box. The text box reads, “[screaming] LET ME HELP YOU! THANK YOU.”
Figure 18.27 Closed captions and other forms of accessible text help those with different abilities consume multimodal text. The captioning in this image indicates that one figure offers help and the other figure shows appreciation. (credit: “Closed-Caption-Example” by Palmtree3000/Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

Publishing Your Work

One of the most exciting parts of composing is publishing your work. Technology affords multimodal composers numerous options for publishing. Whether or not you create your composition through digital means, you can use technology in the publishing process. First, know that you want your published product to be a finished work that incorporates the revisions and edits you made during the peer review process. This step is occasionally skipped in the multimodal composition process, mostly because digital publishing can be more accessible than other traditional publishing methods. Nevertheless, as a composer, you want your published product to be your best work.

Depending on which modes and media you include, consider the following options for publishing your multimodal advocacy project.

  • Blogs, which usually include text, images, and videos, can be self-published on free or inexpensive web-based platforms such as WordPress, Adobe Experience Manager, and others. Any author or group can start a blog and create posts that incorporate multimodal content.
  • As an alternative to blogs, consider the digital flipbook format, the equivalent of a digital magazine. Platforms such as Issuu allow content creators to organize content in a format in which the viewer scrolls left and right by “flipping” pages. Flipbooks offer more options for layout, organization, and transitions.
  • You may instead choose to publish your completed composition on a video hosting site such as YouTube or Vimeo.
  • You can also use technology to publish non-digital multimodal compositions, such as performances, presentations, or hard-copy posters and the like. This kind of publication typically involves another layer of mode mixing, such as recording a live performance or uploading a picture of an artwork to a digital platform.
Two computer screens showing prerecorded lectures juxtapose a classroom lecture to a live group of students. A separate person watches the same lecture online in real time. The illustration suggests that pre-recorded lectures benefit from the ability of the composer to edit and organize the ideas logically.
Figure 18.28 Publishing a multimedia composition will allow you to present your best work to spread your message. (credit: “Recording Lectures ... Considerations” by Giulia Forsythe/Wikimedia Commons, CC0)

No matter what technology you choose, you will want to follow an organized writing process and ensure that your choices honor your purpose, your audience, and the organization you have chosen for your work. Thinking specifically about your advocacy project, consider what you want to accomplish and to whom you are speaking. What digital publishing options can accomplish your goals? How does your intended audience consume digital media? Choosing your publication method is as important as choosing the modes and media.


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