Reading Response

Unit 1

In the article “A Terminal Condition: The Cathode Ray Tube’s Strange Afterlife,” authors Josh Lepawsky and Charles Mather depict the lifespan of the cathode ray tube in terms which would more likely be found in a biography than a description of an object. It is this type of description which Haltman encourages in his text, one rooted more in observing the potential impacts of an object on all domains of life, rather than a simplistic explanation of what an object is used for. This article, and indeed, the entire series of articles it belongs to, is the epitome of Prownian analysis. Whereas it would be simple yet correct to say that the CRT is a dated technology once used to light the screens of televisions and other digital devices, the authors take multiple steps farther. They first examine the origins of the cathode ray tube – debates over the existence or nonexistence of a vacuum. Afterward, they describe the advent of television – all packing CRTs – in domestic homes across the globe. Eventually, it would end up included in computers, to be obsoleted decades later by new flat screen devices. Finally, they analyze the lasting legacy of the tubes’ disposal. It is too toxic to simply landfill, but recycling is cost- and labor-intensive. Instead of a technical description of the CRT’s attributes filled with jargon unintelligible to the common reader, the authors present the CRT as a slice of life through hundreds of years from its first conception until the present day. In this way, they convert a description into a story.

Unit 2

The article¬†“Deaf community outraged after interpreter signed gibberish before Irma” by Alex Mendoza was published in the New York post on September 16th, 2017. It relates to Ball’s discussion of multimodality in two separate ways. First, the subject matter is a failure in communication. This could have been avoided if the county had used more modes of communication. It is also visible from the video that the “bogus” sign language interpreter is extremely nervous, which is a form of gestural communication.

Furthermore, the article itself is a multimodal piece. There is a video and many images embedded on the page. Besides the linguistic mode, it also uses the visual, aural, and spatial modes. The pictures and video are clearly representative of the visual mode. The audio from the video is aural. The spatial design of the website is intended to put the article front-and-center yet still draw attention to the other links on the side. Overall, it uses multimodality to great effect to get its point across.