After reading Joshua Reeves’ “Temptation and Its Discontents: Digital Rhetoric, Flow, and the Possible,” I have become more and more intrigued with the idea of controlled flow online and an audiences perceived agency in online interactions.  While audiences tend to feel in control of their clicking choices, I want to delve deeper into the construction and/or limitations within those choices as decided by the composer of the website, and what implications those choices have.

After researching user interaction based on data mining, navigational patterns, and eye-tracking studies, I will complete a small study having users interact with one of two websites. One of the sites will be a “closed” site where any provided links will keep the user on the site, creating loops within the site.  This is perceived agency for the audience and high control for the composer (with few link options that keep them on the page).  The second website will be an “open” site with hyperlinks taking the users from the page.  This website will be provide more agency for the audience and less control for the composer (with more available links taking them away from the page, will they come back?).

Through the use of an analytic program, I plan to gain knowledge as to how much time users will spend on one site compared to the other, as well as to how varying hyperlinks affect the way a user interacts with a site by tracking navigational patterns.  Following the users interaction, I will have them complete a survey in order to gain perspective on user emotion towards the varying sites, likes and dislikes, ease of use, and time spent on each.

The data collected, along with my research, will explore user interaction with websites, and draw conclusions as to how an audience’s agency (actual vs perceived) and the amount of control the composer has over the audience’s navigational path has on the amount of time a user spends on a site and how the user feels about that site.  The research and data will then be presented on a website in the form and style deemed most effective by the analysis.  The primary target audience for theory presentation is academic, but with a conversational tone and online publication it will be accessible to the general public.  Hopefully, this study can contribute to the idea of media flow and provide insight into user interaction with multimodal compositions online.

Project timeline – Gantt Chart:

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