Multimodal social semiotics: Writing in online contexts

Domingo, M., Jewitt, C. & Kress, G. in K. Pahl and J. Rowsel (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Literary Studies
Understanding the changing function of writing in online contexts such as blogs is central to understanding contemporary notions of literacy. This chapter describes and analyses the features of writing in online contexts, specifically in food blogs, from both a social and technological perspective. The decision to focus on food blogs is two fold: firstly food is a significant site for how individuals and societies form and express social identities, and secondly blogs are a significant digital form that involves writing – and food blogs are a common area of blogging. The chapter discusses writing as a resource for meaning making in the contemporary landscape of communication, the changing place and uses of writing, and writing genres in the context of websites and food blogs. Keeping a close focus on writing as mode it explores the complex mix of social, cultural, technological, and economic features of writing in online contexts and how these shape the function of writing. Throughout, the chapter draws on examples of food blogs to addresses questions of a social kind, including how notions of authorship and reading have changed, and the changes in relations of power between participants in online communication. These questions are intertwined with issues of a technological kind, such as, what kinds of texts and genres are produced on the site of different screens, and how the affordances of blog platforms are taken up. The ways in which the social and the technological are inextricably intertwined is pointed to throughout the chapter. For instance, contemporary principles of composition point to a melange of social and technological factors, in which the relations of authority and authorship, of power and knowledge, are being newly defined and ‘embedded’ in blog template design. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of current and future trends in relation to writing online. –
Read the full chapter at NCRM eprints