Reading Response Two: Arola and Ball



After reading the “What Are Multimodal Projects?” chapter from Kristen Arola and Cheryl Ball’s book Writer/Designer, I have gained a better understanding of the multimodal concept and how to recognize it in other peoples’ texts and, ultimately, how to use it in my own creation process. In this context, a mode is a way of communicating, such as writing words on a paper, posting an image onto an online blog, or playing a song on the radio. The multimodal concept combines multiple modes of communication into one text (Arola and Ball). For example, this meme would be considered multimodal:

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Image from Pinterest

This text (in this context any mode of communication, such as words, images, or sounds, is considered text) uses an image of a horse and written words to communicate a message, therefore it is multimodal.

I also read the online article, “Forty Years Later, the Golden Record Goes Vinyl,” written by Marina Koren. This article was written about the “Golden Record,” a name used to refer to the vinyl music records that contained sound recordings of popular and classical music, greetings in 55 different languages, and sounds from Earth. Two copies of this record were put on each of the two Voyager space missions. They were sent off into space with the intent of being discovered by an alien civilization with the ability to understand these recordings. Ever since the production of these records, NASA has kept the recordings unavailable to the public, that is until last year. NASA recently allowed the original cassette tapes, containing the recordings included on the Golden Record, to be used to make more copies of the Golden Record. These copies are available for purchase for $98 (Koren).

Image result for voyager space mission
Artistic Interpretation of Voyager Space Mission

After reading this article I am able to better understand how an author can use the different modes to communicate a message.  Koren uses multiple modes in her article, including the linguistic, visual, aural, and spatial modes. All of these modes in combination help to effectively deliver Koren’s message, which is to inform people of the Golden Record and its recent accessibility to the public.

The most obvious mode is the linguistic mode. Being an online article, Koren’s text needs to have words from which a reader can decipher meaning. According to the Writer/Designer chapter, the linguistic mode is useful to provide an audience with the description of a subject (Arola and Ball). Koren effectively used this mode to describe the history of the Golden Record and its importance to society. Although the linguistic mode can provide a clear description of the subject, it does not allow the audience to experience the subject. This is where the aural mode is used.

The aural mode uses sound to help deliver a message (Arola and Ball). At the end of the article, Koren included a sample of the sound recordings used on the Golden Record. This sample allowed the audience to actually experience the subject matter of the article. The linguistic mode can only go so far with describing the subject; the audio sample is an actual piece of the subject, not just a description. The inclusion of the audio sample helped Koren communicate her message. Another noticeable mode in the article is the visual mode.

Koren’s article featured one image, included at the beginning, of a man in a white lab coat and gloves holding a copy of the Golden Record. This image served multiple purposes. Firstly, the image is very large, with the intention of attracting and intriguing an audience. This is one advantage of the visual mode; images tend to capture the attention of an audience more than words alone. The other purpose the image served was to help communicate the importance of the Golden Record to an audience. In the article Koren mentioned that for a long time the recordings were not released to the public because they were, according to NASA, “highly valued mementos.” The image of a man in a lab coat and gloves carefully holding a copy of the Golden Record helped support the importance of the object in society. One last mode that Koren employed is less obvious at first, but definitely still present.

Image used in “Forty Years Later, the Golden Record Goes Vinyl”

Arola and Ball describe the spatial mode as the way an author uses physical space to communicate their message. Koren used this mode in her article with her way of organization. The article began with the large image and the title in large letters, then used the linguistic mode to describe her subject, and ended with the aural mode to let her audience experience the subject of her article, the sound recordings on the Golden Record. The image at the beginning draws in the audience. The paragraphs provide a context and description of the Golden Record. The audio sample at the end of the article leaves the audience with a better understanding of the subject and possibly convinces the audience to purchase a new vinyl copy of the Golden Record.

Overall, Arola and Ball provided a clear explanation of the multimodal concept and common ways authors use these different modes in their texts. After reading Koren’s article, I was able to identify ways an author uses multimodality to effectively communicate their message to an audience. Being able to use multiple modes is critical to an author’s creation process, especially in today’s technologically advanced society. Commercials, news reports, movies, music, speeches, etc. all use multiple modes to communicate a message. Knowing how to use and combine the different modes of communication will lead to a clearer and more persuasive message.


Works Cited

Arola, Kristen, and Cheryl Ball. Writer/ Designer. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 9 January 2014.

It Spells Horse. Pinterest,, 11 August 2014,  Accessed 11 March 2018.

Koren, Marina. “Forty Years Later, the Golden Record Goes Vinyl.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 25 Aug. 2017, Date Accessed 17 March 2018.