Sign in or register
for additional privileges

Composition for Multimodal Technology

Exploring the expanding craft of communcation

Ashley O'Brien, Author

You appear to be using an older verion of Internet Explorer. For the best experience please upgrade your IE version or switch to a another web browser.


PDF or html?

Understanding different types of users and different formats for documents.

This video argues that neither html nor PDF can fulfill the functionality of the other. It is interesting to identify die-hard, core affordances of PDF. This medium offers a bridge between print resources and digital networking. Conversely, html offers affordances that extend associations beyond a user's experience to connect media to other information related to its encoded content. Which will become obsolete?

  • portability
  • fits existing workflows
  • sharable
  • works well offline
  • Content enrichment
  • optimizing rendering
This page comments on:
Affordances (12 May 2015)
Join this page's discussion (1 comment)

Discussion of "Affordances"


Affordance is a potential to provide a certain kind of content.

Less convention, more strategy

Content beyond linguistic semiotics is less abstract convention and more practical strategy. Device affordances align with attitudes of users to exchange information using modes of the design. Innovation in technology and its uses create a continuum of media options, each specialized with an assortment of information-sharing affordances.

Use potential

The media is the message when it comes to affordances. Wearable technology is limited to a spectrum of use potential. Readers know how to use a book for content, but modern communication conventions aren't familiar with how to use Google Glass during a fire drill. Having informative content or useful features has little use potential when someone is happier staying with their own device.


Wearable technologies represent a new realm of affordances. Google glass offers augmentation, sharing visual perspectives using our eyes, and even changing what we are seeing through a seemingly-natural view or via dual screens. Other wearables's designs offer physical advantages, sharing with us physiological details about our greatest asset: our bodies. Both groups of wearable technologies offer the affordance of continuity. Continuity of use in various contexts in which we wear them.

One affordance to rule them all?

Affordances of continuity in wearable technologies raise some concerns with safety and the unknown. Historically, there have been mixed preferences and predictions for certain media types. Many technology users prefer the affordances of certain text documents over others. For example, some people prefer PDF while others believe html carries more use potential. Use potential depends on the user, the tool and the context, and there will most likely never be one mode to dominate all channels of communication.

The theory behind choice

This video, on the next page of your path, shows some of the affordances of PDF and html platforms. It's only 8 minutes and it's a simple explanation of current and critical concepts to consider theory behind medium choice, based on affordances of specific technologies. 

Posted on 12 May 2015, 5:07 pm by Ashley O'Brien  |  Permalink

Add your voice to this discussion.

Checking your signed in status ...

Previous page on path A New Inquiry, page 4 of 13 Next page on path