Kylie Sickles

An image of sticky noted arranged in a hierarchy

Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is immensely important in design. It shows readers what they need to focus on and in what order. One major way a hierarchy can be built is through size. As stated by the Oxford Journal, “The distinction in sizes should be such that a visitor would view the items in the order of importance, and the pecking order of things is obvious.” Within my multimodal project, my team can demonstrate visual hierarchy by making the title of the webpage much larger than the text, to show importance. We can also make the page’s main image larger than the images in the advice section, as we would want the main image to stand out more.

Another way we can develop a hierarchy is through color. The Oxford Journal claims that pops of color can create distinction in the areas that they are used, and my team plans to utilize this. We hope to have a neutral background, so it doesn’t draw attention, and to have our paragraph text also  be a neutral color. However, our title and main image will be in color, which will immediately draw the eyes of the audience.

One final way we can use visual hierarchy would be to carefully consider how we want to organize our information. We plan on each page being separated into modules, one with the story, one with and image, and one with advice. We can organize this information in either and F-pattern or a Z-pattern, as both guide the human eye easily.

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An e-reader sitting next to a stack of books

Going Past the Analog

As someone born after the turn of the century, I cannot remember a time where computers did not integrate into every aspect of life. I sought entertainment from Youtube, played videogames on my family computer, and did research for school using Wikipedia. However, within this sea of digital entertainment, there was always one analog device I regularly turned to: books. As an avid reader, I was a regular at my local and school libraries. For Christmas every year, I consistently asked for fantasy books. One year, instead of a wrapped stack of books, I received a small, off-brand kindle reader, loaded with books like Ramona and Beezus and Dear Dumb Diaries. Thus began my experience with eBooks.

These digital novels opened many new doors for me. As a child, I couldn’t really buy many books, but eBooks were inexpensive and within the bounds of my allowance. I could also check out eBooks from my local library from the comfort of my couch, meaning that I didn’t need to pester my parents for another library trip.

Digital spaces also provided me avenues to discuss books. Places like Tumblr, where you could make posts about media such as books, flourished with varied discussions. In a similar way, direct comments written in the margins of digital books could now be shared. Stated best by Craig Mod in his essay “Post Artifact Books and publishing”, “Digital marginalia is a collective conversation, cumulative stratum”. With these new avenues for sharing thoughts about books, I could connect with many more people and exchange ideas that I never would have had the chance to share otherwise.

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Final Project – Nov. 29th Update

I am the team lead for the Salmon Creek Journal Digital team. I have finally collected all of the submissions for the journal. Over the break, I asked each member to create their own wireframes for the site, and we will decide on the final layout during class. I have also made my own wireframe to share. After that, we will delegate parts of the coding or design to each member, which we will then compile next class.

I’m excited for this project, but I know it will be a lot of work. I know my team is fantastic, and I’m positive we will create something really cool!

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Fear of Coding UPDATE

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Final Project Duties

I am a part of the Salmon Creek Journal project team. My main role is the Project Manager. I have organized my team to begin advertising and I have collected our submissions for our project. I also hung up the flyers that were created by my team. Today, I will lead the team discussion and finalize what everyone’s role will be in regards to the website itself, as we only delineated tasks for advertising before.

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Fear of Coding Contribution

For this project, my team created a website about the fear of coding. Many times in the DTC program, students can feel intimidated by their first experience with coding. Within our website, we included a story about our hero making it through his first experience with HTML and CSS, while providing advice along the way to help readers who are similarly struggling.

I was the team leader and the lead writer. While we all brainstormed for the story together, I was the one who wrote it. I also have been coordinating the team and leading team discussions. For example, after each class I would post an update in Slack so that people were reminded of what their jobs were for the upcoming week and what we discussed during that meeting. I also found the color palette that we decided to use on the site. Finally, we were each responsible for providing some advice on one of the pages, and I did so for the last page.

This project was so fun to do, and I had a fantastic team to work with!

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The cover od the podcast "The Adventure Zone".

Dungeons and Dragons and McElroys, Oh My!

Ha! Bet you goobers didn’t see that one coming! What other tasty twists and turns await you in… The Adventure Zone! 

Where can you find dog-free moon bases, a lodge that houses both Bigfoot and Mothman, a school of villains, an underwater metropolis, and an amusement park full of hyjinx? Why, The Adventure Zone, of course! This tabletop roleplaying podcast began in 2014 when brothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy gathered with their father, Clint, to record a filler episode for their comedy podcast My Brother, My Brother, and Me. This Dungeons and Dragons episode, however, became wildly popular, and they continued their campaign. Now, almost a decade later, they are onto their fifth long-form season, with each having their own distinct story and gameplay. 

I have listened to many seasons of the show multiple times. This podcast was my first, and it got me through surgery recovery, heartbreak, and bouts of anxiety. How could some piece of audio made by random guys from West Virginia affect me so much?

An image of the McElroy Family.
From left to right, back to front: Griffin, Justin, Travis, and Clint McElroy.

Within this podcast, almost all of the hosts are new to the various table top role play games that they use, so listeners who don’t know these systems can learn with them. Their dynamic, perfected after years of weekly comedy podcasts, makes the content humorous. In addition to this, the stories that they tell are engaging, often making listeners like me cry by the end. Finally, an assortment of custom-made background music ties this content together. Considering all of these aspects, The Adventure Zone has a habit of bringing in listeners who just want a laugh and turning them into devotees, worshiping at the altar of Fantasy Costco and Amnesty Lodge.

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The Physicality of Digital Art

When our team began exploring what our project would look like, one thing that we focused on was the use of design concerning the words and art that we used. Our subject is overcoming the fear of coding. This is a common experience among DTC majors, as many will use a programming language at some point, whether that be HTML or JavaScript. We hope to tell a story of a person overcoming this fear using our own lives as inspiration. We discussed the possibility of using ASCII art in our projects to tell out hero’s story. This idea is perfectly expressed by Ulises Carrión in the text The New Art of Making Books.

In the new art (of which concrete poetry is only an example) communication is still inter-subjective, but it occurs in a concrete, real, physical space – the page.

This quote explores the physicality of art on a page and the space it takes up. The ASCII art that we discussed would have fixed and concrete locations on the webpage. Aside from the art, the text of our story would also have to have specified space on the page, as it would have to be distinguishable from the ASCII art. As of right now, I think that having a side scrolling website would be beneficial, as we would be able to have this text and visuals flowing through the story. Because we plan on using ASCII art to illustrate, each new part of the story will have different characters meticulously placed in specific parts of the page.

An image of "2022" written in ASCII characters.
Image by Artturi Jalli on Unsplash. An example of ASCII art.
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A whimsical cover depicting Little Red Riding Hood in a sprawling forest.

Filled to the Brimm With Grimm

For our electronic publication project, my team created a compilation of stories by the Brothers Grimm. We ended up with this topic by first discussing gothic literature, which led us to realize that the fairy tales written by the Grimm brothers would be great for AI generated art, as they vary wildly from whimsical to creepy. With this, we each selected 2-3 stories and compiled them in a Google Doc.

After we compiled our stories, I went to work with creating my AI images. I utilized DreamStudio to create matte paintings inspired by the artist Annie Stegg Gerard. I did have some difficulty with the next steps, as I do not own any Apple products, and that is how we were taught to proceed. However, I eventually found some neat tricks, including how to convert from a .epub to a .zip on windows (just change the extension manually!). Since I also do not have Apple Books to view my finished epub, I utilized a program called Freda. I also created a foreword for my work to add more explanation into what themes we explored in the publication.

The part of this project that gave me the most trouble would be utilizing a PC, as I couldn’t check how it would appear in Apple Books as I went along.

Please download my project at the following link:

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An image of a young child playing with a handheld console.

Reading Multimedia Texts

Reading on a screen has changed dramatically with the integration of different media. However, multimedia reading is best when the interactive elements are optional. For example, Wikipedia contains online pages that describe a specific topic in detail. The website does use interactivity, most often exemplified by hyperlinks to other relating articles, but these are optional and not distracting. These hyperlinks provide context and more information for those that want to learn more without being intrusive. However, a website that contains media that is not necessarily avoidable is very distracting, like music that plays in the background automatically. The concept of making multimedia aspects of reading optional has also proved beneficial in my classes. While reading an article that contains a video, I am able to focus much better if the video does not automatically play, as I am able to read the writing at my leisure and then choose to watch the video if I need more information instead of being distracted by it. The concept of making multimedia aspects of digital works optional is bolstered by N. Katherine Hayles, a digital media scholar, in her article “Hyper and Deep Attention: The Generational Divide in Cognitive Modes“. 

Stimulation works best, in other words, when it is associated with feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness—a conclusion with significant implications for pedagogy.

As per Hayles’ claim, the interactive aspects of media is best presented as something the user has control over.

Many of my habits have changes dramatically due to multimedia applications, and my reading habits are no different. Due to the prevalence of fast, short-lived media online, I find it more difficult to focus on longer forms of writing. While I have always loved reading fantasy books, I now find myself more inclined to reach for my phone instead of a new novel because it is easier for my brain to process.

An image of a woman burying her head in a book.
Image by Siora Photography on Unsplash.
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Open Source Horror

Project Gutenberg is a fantastic website that collogues open source novels and makes them available to the public for free. On this site, I’ve found two horror books that I am interested in: Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu and Present at a Hanging and Other Ghost Stories by Ambrose Bierce. The first is a very early vampire story, predating Dracula, about a female vampire named Carmilla who attacks a young woman. It was written in 1872 and is a piece of gothic literature. The latter is a series of short ghost stories. This piece was originally published in 1913. It is separated into four different sections of loosely related spooky tales.

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an image of a person using a virtual reality headset.

The Future of the Book

The smooth and sturdy cover of a freshly bought book opens, and the magical scent of a new book wafts towards me, smelling the same as it did in my childhood. The text is neatly typed from left to right, the thin pages turn swiftly, and the imagination is working full steam ahead. Just like always.

Well, almost. In the front of this book lays a printed QR code, on the receipt a randomized password. With my Virtual Reality controller, I scan the code, input the password, and suddenly I’m transported into the book itself. I soar above the clouds on a dragon’s back, I read next to a fire with Jane Austen, and I waltz beneath brightly colored truffula trees.

This is the current state of the book. While many prefer to simply buy the online versions of popular novels, true bibliophiles will spend the extra money to obtain the analog versions as well. With the proliferation of Virtual Reality, or VR, the publishing of books has flourished in digital formats. This development was predicted decades in the past, as educator Amaranth Borsuk claimed that “the potential of digital devices to serve as book interfaces has been present since the early days of portable computing” in her 2018 novel The Book (p. 200). Readers can now buy anything from an ebook to a fully immersive interactive experience. Each different form, of course, has its own price tag. A digital text is the least expensive, followed by the print book itself, then varied digital interactive experiences. The latter of the three has only become commonplace within the last decade, but innovations in its sphere have grown immensely. Each genre of book has seen different digital iterations, with each blurring the line between “reader” and “user”. Let’s examine the most popular genres available in modern digital formats: textbooks, classical novels, fantasy stories, and children’s books.

Historically large and imposing objects, textbooks have a reputation of putting their readers to sleep. However, in the modern age, professors now utilize what we now know as textbooks for far more than just reference material. Now, textbooks are seen as incomplete without expansive digital components that go beyond simple PDF versions of the text. A fantastic example is a physics textbook. Now, readers interface with interactive diagrams of falling objects and forces embedded into the digital text instead of simple images printed in a book.

an image of complex math and physics equations.
An example of an archaic and static diagram of formulas that would be found in analog textbooks.

Perhaps most important development is the digital lab feature provided with most of these books. Within this feature, students can conduct real-time experiments just as they would in reality, yet without any of the inherent dangers or costs of using physical matter. While analog copies of textbooks are still available, many teachers require these digital versions of the text for their lab instruction unless a student has an accessibility accommodation. These modern textbooks can also be updated online to reflect more accurate information, though this upgrading process does cost users. With these innovations of the simple textbook, gone are the days of static diagrams and immutable information.



Classical novels have truly stood the test of time. Greats like Dickens, Shakespeare, and Austen still captivate audiences centuries after their deaths. Part of their popularity stems from the fact that they have always been on the cutting edge of technology. This is due to their copyright-free nature, as artists have used them to experiment and develop the digital landscapes and experiences we are so used to today. In fact, according to Borsuk, the very first audiobooks ever produced were recordings of public domain works such as poems by Edgar Allen Poe (p. 205). While these books used to simply be available as print novels, audiobooks, or free ebooks, they have now been transformed beyond their pages. For example, readers can now experience A Christmas Carol as it was first designed to be: read by Charles Dickens. Now, the real Dickens is of course not actually reading this book, but AI technology, combined with first-hand accounts of people viewing his plays, has led to modern populations being able to listen to and view Dickens performing his stories, just as he would have far into the past. A similar system has been developed to experience Shakespearian plays, where you can sit within the Globe Theatre and watch as three witches circle a scheming Macbeth. Now, these authors created works of writing that were inherently meant to be acted out, but what about novels that are less interactive? Readers don’t have to look far, as many authors have been AI generated to read their classic novels to you by a fireside. Users can visit Jane Austen in her home as she enthralls you in Pride and Prejudice, or travel to a Spanish villa to hear a recounting of Don Quixote. These experiences are much like audiobooks, simply transformed for the modern age.

Words cannot always aptly describe truly awe-inspiring scenes, and authors are tasked with simply doing the best that they can. However, now authors can coordinate with visual effects artists and 3D modelers to bring their books to life. This is most prevalent in fantasy and science fiction novels. These books are not AI generated movies (though that media has certainly flourished in the past decade), but rather settings surrounding the user as they read. The process is best described by Borsuk when she states that “Book artists have explored [the] spaciality [of books] by creating virtual realities that puncture the two-dimensional plane of the page,” (p. 149). For example, readers with access to the interactive digital version of Eragon by Christopher Paolini are presented with a myriad of breathtaking scenes that shift as you continue with the novel. What better place to read about Farthen Dur than inside the mountain city itself, gaping in awe at the sheer size of the underground civilization? Readers will also find themselves riding upon the great blue dragon Saphira’s back, navigating the seas with Roran Garrowson as he travels in search of the Ra’zac, or reading underneath the grand trees of the elven city Du Weldenvarden. In addition to photo-realistic visuals, ambient noise relating to the location is also incorporated. These settings are crafted to supplement the imagination, not replace it, as the actions in the book do not play out in real time. Rather, these scenes set a tone and a mood for readers to truly immerse themselves into the books as they read. While readers of the past had to seek out quiet spaces to truly become engrossed in a book, modern readers can simply put on their VR headsets.

an image of a tree surrounded by glowing blue mushrooms.
An example of a setting a reader may find themselves immersed in.

Bright colors, distinctive shapes, and silly storylines: these are the hallmarks of children’s story books. Traditionally made out of thick cardboard printed with vivid inks, this form of writing has, like all other forms, become available in interactive digital versions thanks to virtual reality. Many headsets that are made for children will come with children’s stories preprogrammed into them, but they can also be purchased online or alongside analog versions just like most every book.

an image of a boy and a girl using virtual reality headsets.
Children often use virtual reality to read, as it helps to stimulate their imaginations.

Pop-up children’s books have perhaps translated to the digital world the best. Instead of cardboard and paper bushes rising up from the page for a bunny to run past, they burst up from a digital landscape. In many of these books, the words will be displayed on the bottom of the screen as a read-along with the narrator. This moves away from what other genres do, as most others leave a digital book in hand for users to use. However, this format leaves the child’s hands free to interact with the scenery or animals present with the book while also learning how to read from the bottom text. Of course, there is a much larger demand for purchasing analog books alongside digital ones in this genre, as parents can then use them as bedtime stories for their children.


an image of a father reading a story to a baby.
Analog books are still prevalent in the modern era in certain spheres.

We’ve explored how various books have transformed in the digital world, but where does that leave publishers? Why would readers ever want analog versions of books when interactive ones are available? Well, many adults still prefer the experience of reading an analog book, a joy that has echoed throughout centuries. No matter what innovations have been made or how technology has advanced, the analog book has remained steadfast and popular to this day. It’s classic feel, freedom, and inexpensive nature lends itself easily to readers everywhere. Publishers have grown to realize this, which is why they often sell package deals for both analog books and their digital formats. Large publishers now have entire departments dedicated to creating these interactive formats alongside departments focusing on the physical books. Smaller publishers may outsource the creation of their digital media, but will still prioritize the physical medium. There is a security with publishing analog books, as each new generation realizes that these material objects contain just as much magic as their online counterparts.

The book has come a very long way. Its use as a source of knowledge and entertainment has stood the test of time. While digital worlds are being created to allow readers to experience books like never before, the analog book still remains strongly in publication. Even if these volumes do not allow you to watch Dickens perform, ride on the backs of dragons, or chase a rabbit through bushes, they prompt your imagination to visualize it just the same. Whether readers are opening a physical tome or a digital one, whether they smell the scent of a new book or feel the grip of their VR controllers, they are unlocking a magic that book readers have experienced since words were first put to the page.

Citation: Borsuk, Amaranth. The Book. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2018.

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An image of an e-reader on top of a notebook and next to a cup of coffee.

Turning Science Fiction Into Reality

With the influence of the digital world growing every day, forms of media that used to exist only in the physical world have transitioned to becoming digital, and books are no exception. Experiencing stories in a digital space is no longer an idea that only exists in science fiction. However, how will books be presented through this new medium?

Written forms of communication have always formed around the materials that were used to distribute information. For example, written Chinese language was influenced by how

the strips [of the jiance] were so thin [that] scribes developed vertical ideograms that could be more easily written on them. (Borsuk, 2018, p. 27)

With that in mind, the future of the book lies in what materials we will be using to convey information. I predict that virtual reality will be a new frontier for books. For example, storybooks could be read in a virtual environment that reflects the setting of the story. This form of storytelling would be especially engaging for children’s stories.

At the very least, I can see all physically published books being published digitally as well. We are already very close to this end, as various teams such as Project Gutenburg work to digitize previously printed works. With this, however, I also expect new levels of protection to form around digital books. One issue with physical books is that

…their power to spread ideas makes them vulnerable to censorship, defacement, and destruction, particularly motivated by ideological and political difference. (Borsuk, 2018, p. 179)

With the rise of NFT’S, I could see similar methods being used to protect the content of digital books so that someone couldn’t hack the book and censor its content. By using blockchain methods, NFT’s provide authenticity certificates for digital media, and I can see the this being extended to digital books. This would provide a reliable archive of information that would be much more difficult to destroy or alter than a physical one.

While books may continue to exist as physical objects, there is no doubt that they will flourish in digital spaces. They are a cornerstone for knowledge and entertainment, and their presence will surely be seen in every medium possible.

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An image of the corner of a cookbook. The page is dog-eared.The beginning of a recipe for "Nutty Footballs" is shown.

Baked With Love

Sitting in a small bookshelf next to my bed sits an unassuming cookbook. It’s not flashy in design, and it touts no professional baker’s name on it’s cover. Yet, for almost a decade, this is the book I’ve reached for when I’ve wanted to bake.

An image of a bookshelf. On the far left sits a brown and tan cookbook with "Bake Sale" written in cursive font.
A bookshelf containing my cookbook, among other novels.

In terms of a codex, this book isn’t anything special. It appears to have section-sewn binding in a hardcover shell. While it does not store records of grain and cattle, this book is similar to early written texts because it serves a purely utilitarian purpose: to pass on and keep record of useful knowledge. This book is special not because of it’s construction, but of it’s personal history with me.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a baker, and subsequently wanted a cookbook of my own. On a trip from California to Portland, I stared in awe at the shelves of Powell’s Bookstore for the first time. From this magical store, my mother gifted me a cookbook filled with dessert recipes. I found the following statement on the inside cover:

Kylie Sickles ~

You will be a wonderful “baker” someday – Bake with your heart & you can never go wrong.


With Love,


July 8, 2013

It goes without explanation that I was very excited for this book. Even today, where my dreams no longer lie in the culinary world, I use this book often. While I am a terrible cook, I am a pretty decent baker, and this gift jumpstarted that development.

As a twenty year old college student, I thumb through the pages of this book and memories from my ten year old self flood to the surface. The dog-eared pages remind me what recipes excited me most, like the football cookies I had planned for Superbowl Sunday. Even recent memories lie hidden in these pages – my partner, who loves sweets, was wooed by recipes from between these covers. This is what makes the book so special. Sure, I could search the web for some dessert recipes, and I would even find hundreds more than what this book contains. This book, however, holds emotional value, from my mother’s note to the page corners I excited folded all those years ago. When I bake from this book, I am baking from the heart.

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