Instagram Introduced Alt Text

Alternative text and tags are something of a recent phenomenon on social media. In the past few years, Twitter has introduced alternative text for people who were sharing images on their accounts, making them more accessible to users with visual impairments. To read more about that, check out this article. Recently, Instagram introduced their own version of this. Adding this alternative text is somewhat of a necessity for a platform that consists entirely of image-based content.

Instagram updated their system last year by creating an automatic version of alt text that basically looks for visual clues and then writes a description that can be read out loud. But that method isn’t always accurate. That’s why they’ve created alternative text that users can place on their own images. It’s important to point out that there were some users (most of whom had a significant number of followers) who were doing this sort of work before any of this was introduced, simply by adding image descriptions (often in brackets) at the bottom of their captions.

There are just a few quick steps to take to include alt text when you’re posting an image on Instagram. Find them below.

  1. Select your image like you typically would, and write your caption.
  2. At the bottom of the caption screen there’s a little button that says “advanced settings.” Click on it.
  3. Click on “write alt text.”
  4. Write your alternative text, typically a description of the photo, and select “done.”
  5. Now you’re ready to share your image!

Why is it important to take these steps? We live in a world that was created for those who are seeing. Think about it: How many times a day do you pass a sign or an advertisement? Probably more times than you can count. The internet is a place that can break those barriers, and it’s slowly becoming more and more accessible. But, of course, we all have a role to play here. Taking the time to add this text to your image can give your followers a fuller experience of your work. And who doesn’t want that?

To read more about Instagram’s introduction of alternative text, check out this blog post they wrote in November 2018.

The Value of an Ebook

While we could go around for hours about the costs of an ebook version of a book versus others, there’s another part of the general consumption of ebooks that should be discussed. Perceived value is just as important as actual cost.

Books, in general, take lots of steps before they become published. There’s the acquisitions process, usually multiple rounds of editing, marketing and social media planning and execution, and, of course, the design of the book’s interior and exterior. There’s also everything that comes after the book: royalty costs, employee paychecks, rent, etc. Most of the blogs I read talked about these costs as a part of the profit a publisher makes. Similarly, most of the articles talked about the fact that because digital books don’t cost money to store and ship, they’re able to cost less. And I get it, I really do. But I’ll argue that that’s just one small piece of the much bigger puzzle.

If you do a quick google search of “paperback vs. ebook pricing,” you’ll undoubtedly find a plethora of articles, blogs, and opinions on the pricing of ebooks. But I don’t think that’s the question that needs to be asked. There seems to be a clear difference between the consumer’s perceived value of a physical book and that of the digital version of that same book, but it seems to be more of a matter of how ebooks, now that we’re fully into the digital age, fit in the market that’s already incredibly saturated. Even though consumers and authors alike subscribe to the belief that ebooks should be cheaper than other versions, like fantasy author Scott Marlowe, perceived value doesn’t seem to be about the work that goes into creating the title. Cost is important to think about since it’s the consumer that’s purchasing or abstaining from titles, and price can really affect their decision, but perceived value is also affected by many other instances that go into the decision to purchase a book.

As Brooke Warner writes for Huffington Post, it’s important to look at books, even the ebook version, for the story and not the format. After all, when we read, though our experiences may change some based on where and how we’re reading, it’s really the actual story that we’re invested in. While cost can affect a consumer’s decision to purchase a particular title, as Warner says, it’s often not the book we’re paying for, but the experience we receive while we read. The value of the ebook is in more than just the format, it’s in the ease of being able to purchase the next book in the series at 2 a.m. when you need to know if your favorite character does the thing or whether the love interest you stan is going to make it. Or it’s filling what empty spaces you have left on your shelves with the colorful covers of all the books you swear you’re going to read.

There’s extreme value in any format of a book because it’s usually not the physical book that you’re invested in. Rather, it’s the stories’ struggles, triumphs, laughs, and frustrated tears that keep readers coming back again and again.