My Notes on Price Part One

Here are my notes on chaps 1, 3, and 4 that you can use to direct your attention. They are a selective summary of Price's thinking about audience, the text, and the relation you as a writer create with them on the web.

Chap 1 looks at persona

p 21: Address a small niche.
p 23: Create a persona representing the people you are writing to.
p 31: Price notes that style entails the writer persona's attitude towards readers, implying a relationship. Mass communication, for instance, tends to use an authoritative style that broaches no responses. Price recommends that you adapt a style that allows you to interact with readers. (Price is not talking about individual style but style in the rhetorical sense, as detailed as Silva Rhetorica: Style <> 1. Virtues of Style, 2. Levels of Style, 3. Qualities of Style, 4. Figures of Speech.)
p 31: Stance: What are you doing in this conversation? Amusing people? Teaching? Helping people become more aware? Just being helpful?
p 32: Writing persona to persona: "You are acting in a role, as one persona, and when you address a niche audience, you are talking to a character you have invented, a persona who stands in for the real people who are members of that group. That's talking persona to persona." 33.

Chap 3 looks at content in context of the web at large

p 64: Set aside some assumptions we draw from print: the assumption that you are the authority, that truth is out there, that the text transmits truth, that the text is stable once published it doesn't change ... These are all called into question in web text.
p 68: Use language to signal structure
p 70: Your writing is content and your writing is an interface: headings, titles, subheads are affordances that readers use.
p 71: Affordances
p 74: "Stop acting smart. But keep your attention on the individual people and your relationships with them, which is expressed in your tone. From your language, they can tell what you think of them. in a few sentences, they sense your affection or your contempt."

Chap 4: Attention

Talking about attention can be a real trap. To be read, a text must be found (Google, stumbling over a page, adverts), and some use teasers to ... uh ... tease someone to read further. (Consider the contempt the poster of a teaser can have towards a reader - unless the tease is something other than a tease. Are we holding up a piece of meat for the dog, or is the stance one of niche friend to friend ... )

This sense of attention as a tease is not the idea of attention that Price is working with. He's looking at how the text directs and guides attention - not simply grabs it.

p 78- 9: Attention is active: it acts as a scout, watching for opportunities. It changes moment by moment, shaped by external situations and the unfolding text.
p 80: Make scanning easy by placing key terms where we tend to look for them: start, heads, ends, ...
p 80: Write something new. Newness directs attention. (Nothing trickier than this: new becomes old in a day.) (Unless we re-think new not as novel but as difficult, challenging ...)
p 81: Use simplicity in the text and layout to start attention

Price emphasizes drawing attention with simplicity and passion. But attention is reciprocal, and so Price also emphasizes the attention the writer must pay to the reader:

"Writing for the web demands that you pay more attention to small groups in your audience and even individuals, at times; that you change your habits of writing to make your text work in the Web environment; that you keep consulting a standard structure to see how you are matching its model.... Relax ..."


"People who read what you write are very aware of your attitude towards them and toward your topic. Between the lines of your text, they can sense when you have paid attention to them ..." p 83

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