Affordances & Constraints

There are affordances and constraints in both videos and text – what’s interesting is to examine how these things influence our perception as an audience. For example, in a video, you hear somebody’s voice and tone which affects the way you perceive the content they’re transferring. In a text, more is left to the imagination. There is no concrete visual image in front of them, so they must develop pictures in their mind based off the words provided. I wouldn’t consider either of them affordances or constraints, but they do offer unique differences to an audience.

One affordance a video has over text is the physicality of a visual image. It’s easier to show somebody how to do something through a video than a text. Instructions through text can be unclear and misleading. The visual aspect of a video, like in Alex’s video How To Build A Cootie Catcher, helps an audience to visually and physically understand what they need to do to accomplish something. On the contrast, I find learning how to do something via text encourages engagement with oneself. You may learn and develop skills more when learning how to do things through text, than you would just mimicking somebody else. This ability may be considered a video’s constraint.

Another affordance video offers is the ability to seamlessly switch and gain differing perspectives. In Allie’s video, What Motives You?, she utilizes voice overs from different people to represent different opinions and perspectives. In a text, it’s difficult to transition perspectives or voices so effortlessly. The audience automatically registers the sounds as a different person speaking, whereas in a text you are usually limited to one choice of point of view. I find it easier to convey things through video. In a text, you have to build a formulation of words that overall flows and makes sense to the reader. There is less control on what the reader sees/imagines.

I’ve found that utilizing text in videos is almost more effective than text alone. When you include text in a video, like Amanda did in her Subtweeting video, the audience is automatically focused on those words and what they mean. This helps the reader judge and establish what information is important. In a text, it’s sometimes hard to establish the focus of the piece and what’s mainly important. In a way, this is an affordance because the creator can demand and control an audience’s attention more. Also, a video has the advantage of mixing text and video, while a text is constrained to text.

Overall, I find there are different abilities of text and video. I find text encourages engagement with yourself, while video encourages and enables engagement with others. In today’s society, I believe the video wins. People don’t want to read. They want to see, be entertained, and register information quickly.


Author: Ellie

I'm an aspiring novelist just trying to write.

One thought on “Affordances & Constraints”

  1. Ellie, I love the distinction you suggest between “engagement with oneself” vs. “engsgement with others”. I’d be eager to hear you develop this concept more! ~Joe


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