Group 5 Multimodal Websites as Cultural Expressions (Revision)

 Pauwels, L. (2012). A multimodal framework for analyzing websites as cultural expressions. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 17, 247-265.

In this article, Pauwels first introduces the cultural expression in websites. The Web contains a huge data about how the people all over the world do and think, but traditional methods of analysis are somewhat narrow. A new multimodal framework can analyze human behavior and culture in more specific ways.

Figure 1: The concept of multimodality

    Multimodal cultural analysis helps researchers uncover both superficial and hidden meanings in the websites.
Pauwels' model has six phases and each has certain functions. And the process of the six steps can be summarized below:

A Multimodal Framework for Analyzing Websites

Preservation of First Impressions and Reactions

Inventory of Salient Features and Topics

In-depth Analysis of Content and Formal Choices

Embedded Point(s) of View of “Voice” and Implied Audience(s) and Purposes

Analysis of Information Organization and Spatial Priming Strategies

Contextual Analysis, Provenance and Inference

 Figure 2:  The process of a multimodal framwork
for analyzing websites
    The multimodal framework has both advantages and disadvantages. It helps researchers to make better use of the information in websites. However, it cannot help them to identify the possible “cultural markers”. Nor does it provide an easier way to interpret culture.

So the challenges of multimodal framework are that it can’t avoid being affected by each researcher’s background and some untapped information might be ignored. But the rewards are that it helps to organize information and works as a more precise analytical tool.

The Internet is not just a cluster of data that reflect the difference of culture, but it is “a highly hybrid multi-authored cultural meeting place, connecting off line and online practices of different cultures in transition.”

Discussion Question:

What sensory elements WILL you use in your FB or Blog? (Ignore the limitation of present technology.)


Group 1 (Smell):
They said that they will use smell in their FBs and Blogs. And if it is possible in the future, they will collect smell specific to an object or a country, and share it on their personal website.

Group 2 (Touch):
They said they want to post a special picture on the website. If you touch it, you can feel the texture.

Group 3 (Taste):
They raised an example in the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which the boss of the factory can put the taste of the chocolate bars on the TV. If you pull out the chocolate bars on the TV screen, then you can taste them. The same idea can apply to the computer screen—if somebody shares the taste, they can also taste the things without getting that object.

Group 4 (Visual):
They talk about the skill of 3D printing. They wonder that they can post links on the websites, and then if people want to share a thing to with their friends, they can just download it from the websites.

2. Habitus in Transition? CMC use and impacts among young women in the United Arab Emirates

    The survey on female U.A.E students is to research the culture changing tendency under the effect of computer technology.

Figure 3: A form of change and adaptation within the self-perpetrated
    They found that “Emirati students considered in this project were consciously negotiating a ‘strategic calculation’ with CMC, weighing its positive and negative impacts on a culture that is in transition (to say the least)” (p.439, line23-25) The author choses to survey those U.A.E students because they have only recently gained access to education beyond the home and thus they will play a primary role in habitus being modified in the next generation of Emirati. (The definition of habitus in the essay is “a system of lasting, transposable disposition which integrates past experience and functions at every moment as a matrix of perceptions, appreciations, and actions……” (p.439, line 40-42) )

Discussion Question:
Why people in U.A.E reinforce their traditional concept after using computers?


Group 1:
The Western culture is too novel and somewhat corruptive. It may be hard to be accepted easily by conservative countries.

Group 2:
We think people tend to choose similar opinions and ignore opposite comments. And because Western countries’ values are very different from theirs, when they learn them, they’ll strengthen their original belief.

Group 3:
There are all kinds of news on the internet, so when they saw some bad news about Western countries, maybe they’ll think that those countries are dangerous and bad, and strengthen their belief on their tradition.
Group 4:
We agree with group two’s idea that people tend to accept the idea that is close to theirs and disagree with the reverse idea.
   Figure 4: Handwriting of the feedback to
the discussion question 
3. Islam and Online Imagery on Malaysian Tourist Destination Websites
    The research is related to how Muslim images are used online in Malaysia. Through some Interviews and content analyses of tourism destination websites’ homepages, we found that the results indicate the Malaysian tourism tends to concentrate on uncontroversial elements instead of portraying the Muslim values on the DMO websites.
 Figure 5: The travelers wanted much information about
Islamic countries: travel tips, halal food and prayer times.
Discussion Question:
What are your thoughts about Islamic countries after our presentation? Does it break down your original thoughts?
Group 1:
Our original thoughts about Islamic countries are poor and undeveloped. But, after seeing the video, we think that Malaysia is a beautiful place, attracting people to take a visit.
Group 2:
We think that travel attracts us, and Islamic countries are not the problems. 
Group 3:
We can know that how Islam influences people. And Malaysia in the video is different from the Islamic countries in the textbook of geography.
Group 4:
It doesn’t change our original thoughts, but it is surprising to know that Malaysians have Chinese culture.
4. Language Choice Online: Globalization and Identity in Egypt
    English is the dominant language around the world. In Egypt, there is diglossia about language use. English and Romanized Egyptian Arabic are the two leading languages there. English is mostly used in formal and Internet communications, while Egyptian Arabic is used in informal ones. One reason is their jobs are related to business and technology, so the Web the participants in the survey usually search them in English. Another one is the lack of a common Arabic software standard. Most of the participants were in the English environment when they first learned to use computers. Because of these reasons, there are obstacles to use Arabic in online communications. It is a call to make people think about the identities between global networks and local culture.
       Figure 6: English is the dominant language in formal and online 
             communications, while Egyptian Arabic is used in informal ones.

Discussion Questions:
Q1: Have you ever written e-mail in English?  Everyone has.
Q2: Which language do you prefer to write e-mail to Chinese teachers, English or Chinese?
English: 4 out of 19 classmates
Chinese: 15 out of 19 classmates