Letters are all interchangeably placed. As Applen mentioned, letters are often looked over by readers by the words they are spelling.

Applen Terms on Media

J.D. Applen’s “New Media and Literacy” includes multiple terms that help guide readers. Reading new media print can cause difficulty in understanding. Richard Lanham helps Applen guide his readers into breaking down how readers see new media. Lanham says that the reader can easily manipulate technological reading. It can quickly affect the reader’s perception “differently than the traditional printed word” (Applen, 7). When comparing the emotion felt by the reader to traditional print texts, it is a closed off feeling. There is no interaction between the letters and the readers. Rather than questioning the letters itself, readers are left with analyzing the text as a whole.

To ease this interaction and understanding of a text, Applen picks out multiple terms and definitions. Two main words intertwine, modularity and variability.


Modularity, according to Lev Manovich is “units of information that do not change their ‘separate identities’ and retain their ‘independence’” (Applen, 8). The example used to simplify this definition is added content to a Word document. Any added media onto a document holds its place as an independent character. The added media becomes an ‘object’ because of its “separate identities” (Applen, 8).


Variability is another term to describe, and simplify, the understanding of new media. According to Manovich, variability is when the text can exist in multiple versions. The new media text can be interchangeable, never staying as one version. Another remark from Manovich on the term is “Manovich’s database is important to understand as a “cultural form” (Applen, 9). He decides against expanding both variability and modularity because “the world appears to us as an endless and unstructured collection of images, texts, and other data records” (Applen, 9).


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