Question: Why is the "visual" so important to digital writing?
Before digital writing, visuals acted as supplements to text in books, magazines, and newspaper. Some cultures even incorporate visuals as a part of their language and how they read text such as Chinese characters in the Chinese alphabet. Today, we have encompassed much of what we print to resemble what would be found on the Internet. Author Jay Bolter of Writing Space suggests, "In graphic form and function, the newspaper is coming to resemble a computer screen as the combination of text, images, and icons turns the newspaper page into a static snapshot of a World Wide Web page" (51). Not only do text and visuals work together, they create a stronger image to the reader rather than just text, which only has so many implications. A really important point that Bolter makes about the idea of text and visuals working together is that "text as images becomes even more popular...with the rise of digital media, because of the ease with which images and words can be combined" (52). In a way, the combination of the two acts as a symbol to readers. In this way they can understand the idea and are able to move to other information more quickly without dwelling upon what idea was trying to be conveyed.
In my experiences with digital writing, the visual has taken over the place of text in some cases. Often times, some websites will link their images to take users to another part of the site or even off of the site map to another location. In more cases than less, a website logo or name will be the link to the homepage. For example, if you are navigating through Facebook and become lost somewhere within the website, clicking on the company name in the upper left-hand corner will bring you directly back to the home page. Also, it is a social norm to create an image of text as we remember it such as the "M" arch for McDonalds.
In my Introduction to Design Thinking course here at the University of Minnesota, professor Brad Hokenson explained to our class that people who remembered words were more likely to do so if they created an image in their brain of that word. To prove his point, our class was divided in half and told to remember a sequence of words. One side of the room had to think of a word that rhymed with the words displayed while the others had to create a mental image. The results came out with visuals being more strongly associated to memory with text. With what has been shown statistically, visual importance to digital writing will continue to progress because of human experiences and feelings that visuals bring to the Internet.