Making good use of Multimodality

We seldom read something that mono-modal nowadays. Images are inserted into any kind of text in no doubt, for example, textbook, newspaper, academic journal, leaflet, annual reports, storybook, and manual. Hardly can we deny that we are much rely on the image to tell out the implicit meaning of a context than before and our brain also tend to memorize images better than words too. I think many organizations have made good use of interaction between the images and text to give a good impression to the visitors.

“The Invisible Children” has made a success for the campaign KONY 2012. Their aim is to make Joseph Kony become a globally known person and hope some people who have power, like United Nations, Presidents, billionaires, can stop him from producing violence and wars. I remember the first time I know about this campaign is the shared YouTube Video on Facebook. Nearly half of the newsfeeds were about this video around that time.

Clicked into the official website  (, the structure of the site is quite special; it first is like a center-margin layout, then roll down, it’s a top-down layout.

At the top, you can see that the blue bar, at the top left margin there is some links to other information of “The Invisible Children”. And the center, there is the logo of KONY 2012 which is the main focus of the page. In between the photo and the logo, there are some signs that in light grey colour. When you click one of them, you can immediately jump to the part that you want to know about. The blue bar and the signs remain the same places when you continue to scroll down, but not the same with logo. Although all the parts are on the same pages, but there is different background pictures behind each part.

Here, is the picture of which the topic is named as “MOVE”, it’s taken as the same eye level of the visitor. You seem to be one of the followers of KONT 2012, and there is a sun at the far place, I think the sun is the symbol of hope. The Picture is interacting with the viewers, like saying that “Come to join us! Be one of us! Help the children!”

And Below is a short Video about the background the “the Invisible Children”. Why did they choose video as a media to introduce themselves? Not a text? In the video you can see people from the all around the world. The producer wants to show you that we need to work hand in hand so as to achieve peace in the world.

What I mean in top-down layout is that the factual information is put at the bottom and the ideologically foregrounded information at the top. When you read this site, you can realize that they first introduce their belief, then what’s their plan and how to practice their plan, follow by then, it’s about what can we (viewer) do to support them and lastly it provides contact information for the viewer.

For a website, it follows the logic of the screen. So the text in KONY 2012 is short, it aims at assisting the understanding of the video. And the images can give an instant effect more than the text, as you need to read it and understand it, or maybe distracted from it.

Well, how about smartphone?

Here are the screenshots of the KONY 2012 app. By contrast, the app use more words to explain about the campaign. They do have videos too, but the button link to YouTube and they only link to one video. Compared with the site, it is more like page logic, more sequential. It may due to the limitation of the smartphone; it can’t include so much multimedia as the website can.

Though KONY2012 is massively supported by public, there are some people arguing that it’s a state propaganda (The Online column: .I’m not going to comment on any ethic or political issue here, but their argument which is about the influence of the video is quite logical.

A online columnist criticized the video that:

“Any marketing specialist will tell you: “Facts don’t sell, emotions do”. The first part of KONY 2012 solely addresses emotions. It is about making the filmmaker likeable, showing gut-wrenching images of African kids in pain, in misery and in despair. Then, the turning point: Joseph Kony is the cause of all of this. Not centuries of exploitation and devastation by Western forces in Africa that lead to chaos, lawlessness and poverty. No, it’s Kony. That bastard. George Clooney is really mad at him right now. He even tweeted about it.”

Quoting this paragraph is not going to prove the Skepticism of U.S.. This actually provides us another way to interpret the video. Why some people are touched by the video while others are skeptical about it? It is interesting that the meaning of the images can be differ from peoples who from various background. Here is another quote from the column:

By associating Kony with Bin Laden and Hitler in this poster, KONY 2012 is promoting war.

There is the poster, How will you interpret it ?


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