Lately I've been realizing how much participating as an author in online interaction spaces (like Facebook and this blog) is helping to deepen my thoughts about audience from the writer's perspective.
Take Facebook for instance. On my profile, friends and acquaintances from various stages of my life collide. I'm used to thinking about them differently, and now they're here, in one space. This gives new perspective to what "writing for a wide audience" means.
Or take the fact that I import this blog into Facebook as well as posting the items here. It makes me aware that others may also be reading this in a different context--e.g., feed readers--and that makes me try to keep those contexts in mind when I write things, knowing that, for instance, people might be seeing two different sets of comments on my posts, or none at all, depending on where they might be reading it.
These sorts of things make me aware of how much I modulate my communication on a daily basis depending on who I'm speaking to and how they're receiving that communication. And as a writer, these thoughts further sensitize me to the nuances of the idea about audience, which is such an important aspect of what we consider as authors.
Walter Ong* says that writers always imagine a particular kind of audience for their writing, and then give their readers roles to step into. It's fascinating to me how these online venues challenge, stretch, and concretize those imaginary audiences, potentially making both author and audience aware how much those roles are a shifting landscape, and how much the audience also creates roles for communicators to step into.
Anyone else have any noticings about audience, whether from online or offline venues?
*In his excellent essay "The Writer's Audience Is Always a Fiction"
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Audience and Online Interaction Spaces
I'm a writer, an incurable reader, a narrative theorist, a media researcher, a scholar/author/writer/consultant, a PK, and the Queen of Soup Making. I write a lot, and I've taught a wide range of topics in universities. Along my journey I've picked up a PhD in Communication from Purdue and 2 degrees in English. I've been turning my ideas about communication as author-audience relationships into a communication paradigm that can be applied to a wide range of situations. I'm also writing a historical mystery series. I'm a member of Sisters in Crime, and the co-chair of the Mystery and Detective Fiction Caucus of the Popular Culture Association. My MA thesis focused on connections between T. S. Eliot and Thoreau, who each wondered about how to remain still and still moving. Before I went to grad school, I spent 7 years working for a division of HarperCollins Publishers.