The Smithsonian 9/11 Website Essay

1307 words - 5 pages

Medium of production, textual form, perspective and choice of language are all core factors in influencing the meaning of a text. Choice of language can play a pivotal role in providing an insight into the author of a texts' perspective, which is vital when determining the intended meaning of a text. Textual form and the medium of production of a text are also important, as these help to convey the author's perspective, and results in a better understanding of the meaning of the text. The impacts of these factors will be evaluated in the following examples, which illustrates how they can influence meaning in texts, in regards to the relationships between individual memory and documented events. An example of how the medium of production can influence meaning of a text is the Smithsonian 9/11 website.

The use of a website as the medium of production for the Smithsonian 9/11 exhibit allows people to browse through an extensive collection of objects and images, and because of this, is very effective in helping to achieve the intended purpose of the exhibit. This freedom to examine the large collection of objects and stories is used to allow the responder to disseminate a variety of perspectives, promoting a deeper understanding of the issue. Because people can contribute their own stories to the website, it serves as a framework for all their stories, and presents a collective memory of the event. This results in the accumulation of individual memories to create one large collective memory, with this collective memory of the event being what will be remembered as history. This interplay between history and memory is an effective way for the site to achieve its intended purpose.

Along with medium of production and perspective, the textual form and choice of language on the site also influence its meaning. The layout for the Smithsonian 9/11 website is simple, and uses a neutral colour palette of white, black, grey, and blue-grey, along with the use of a simple font type, to highlight the serious nature of the website. The choice of language, using words such as “shocking”, “armed terrorists hijacked”, “attacks destroyed”, and “killed” is used to evoke an emotional response from readers, and is effective in conveying the intended message of the site. This representation of the events on 9/11 is due to the combined factors of medium of production, perspective, textual form and choice of language. A similar view is depicted in the following document, from the stimulus material.

The simple layout of the "9/11 by the numbers" document (Written text 2 of the stimulus material) is effective in promoting its singular perspective of the event. The straight forward and simple style of listing statements through the use of dot-points down the page (and the use of bold font for the actual numbers) is effective in catching the eye of the responder, and highlights each line. This textual form allows for a clearer presentation of the text's...

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