For this writing assignment, I took something I wrote — an e-mail to my housemates about the Internet bill — and added a picture to the background.

I found a couple of advantages to using an image in electronic writing. As Professor Landow demonstrated in class, an image can manipulate the reader's perception of the text. A poem about rape can be romanticized or eroticized with the right image, colors and font. Likewise, in my e-mail to my housemates, I could have found an easier way to ask my friends for money. By putting a (mildly) humorous cartoon in the background, I could have light-heartedly asked my friends for a non-trivial amount of money. This would have softened the blow for them, and made me seem funnier and friendlier. Using the cartoon, I could achieve the friendly tone I desired without spending more time thinking about how to word my e-mail in a congenial manner.

But a potential problem is that pictures distract. I could imagine one of my housemates looking at the e-mail and remembering the cartoon, but forgetting what the content of the e-mail was about.

I faced a couple of challenges in this assignment, which took me significantly longer than I thought it would to complete. I wanted my text to be directly above the image, so I used Photoshop. But after opening the image in Photoshop, I couldn't figure out how to make the picture opaque. I tried using Photoshop Help, but I searched for "how to make a picture transparent" instead, since I didn't know the right word that explained what I wanted to do. So my vocabulary became a hindrance. Once I figured out how to adjust the opacity of the picture, I had to find a balance between making my text more visible, or making the image comprehensible. In the end, I thought my compromise still made the text too hard to read and the image a bit too faint to see.

Cyberspace Web Overview Creative Nonfiction related courses

Last modified 6 February 2008