Morgan's Notes 22 Jan 2015


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Notes on Reader - Writer Persona

For this week, you were asked to

1. Read Price, Hot Text, chap 1 on some ideas of how to address an anonymous audience of one. We'll explore the limits of what Price discusses later, but the idea of developing a persona to address another persona (p 32) is a pretty good place to start. Price's text tends to emphasize writing in a commercial context, but he provides a good starting point for what we're looking at in this class. Readers aren't always "consumers" on the web. More and more they are co-producers, with the capability of writing back.

2. Draft a short article (no longer than 1 minute reading time) to serve as an introduction of yourself to the class and the world. Include an image, and at least one link. What might this intro be? A CV, perhaps. A short autobio in first, second, or third person. A short self-introduction. A short statement of what you're doing this semester. Something, as above "can stand as an introduction of yourself to the class." The form is up to you. So, try a few different options and keep your drafts in the drafts section of your Medium space.

Reading and Writing for the Web


The traditional audience was a mass… On the Web, though, the mass audience is crumbling. In its place, small groups are emerging, forming around common interests, aims, jobs, politics, hobbies, or obsessions. And within these groups, we see individuals arising, demanding that we deliver information specifically tailored to their personal taste. (Hot Text, p 4)

Price's text tends to emphasize writing in a commercial context, but he provides a good starting point for what we're looking at in this class. Readers aren't always "consumers" on the web, as Price suggests. More and more they are co-producers, with the capability of writing back. But we can start here.

We can start by considering readers as characterized by Price.

But then consider how else readers might be encountered. Here's one of those reader/writer exchanges. The original post is I read half a blog post and the response is linked to the bottom of the post: I read half your blog post. Side comments on the original post are also telling in their attitude, what they sense from the style and tone of the post. The post and comments illustrate much of that Price is discussing in chapters 1, 3, and 4.

Don't overlook Tom Coates's comment: “I can’t tell if it’s serious or not. It’s probably not serious. Good either way.” — Tom Coates.

Who am I writing for - and who am I?
Price links a constructed reader persona with the constructed writer's persona. He also emphasizes an audience of one: that is, on the web, the audience is not a target or a collective but a constructed persona.

If you review a university home page with these premises in mind, the fashioning will start to become apparent. That is, one implication of the close link between persona-text and persona-reader is that the writer is defining readers as a reader/consumer of the content, and more or less giving them the material to imagine themselves as that consumer. To the extent that actual readers can play the roles defined for them by the implied author, the content is successful. For the producer. To the extent that the actual readers will play other roles, they will construct other meanings and infer alternative authors.

actual writer > implied author > text < implied reader < actual reader

actual writer > writer persona > text < reader persona < actual reader


Each actual writer constructs in the text she composes an implied author, in part by imagining an implied reader. Each actual reader infers from the text a sense of the implied author. To the extent that the text offers the actual reader the stuff to play the reader role, the text may be considered successful. In this model, the actual reader is as active in creating success as the actual writer - perhaps even more so, as the actual reader may have more knowledge at hand to create a more faceted implied author than the actual author constructed. In this model , things go wrong because actual readers don't behave as they are constructed.

What can we glean from the chapter? That is, what's useful to you in creating content not merely to be consumed?

Reading Intros


Next: MakeMeThinkAboutTailoringMyTextExercise - aka about Personas, Style, Attitude, and Attention







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