: TheEditor: On this page let's try to work our way towards defining who OurAudience is and the relationship we want to strike with OurAudience. A starting point might be to consider the various what we think about an audience - which differs with the disciplines and the medium. There are other ways of proceeding. Jump in.

Wiki audiences aren't like other audiences. If they don't like what's on the screen, they can change it. So too, the relationship between the wiki readers and wiki writers is different than it is in other media. On a wiki, it becomes clear that author and audience are roles people play, and interchangable ones at that.

the myth of the captive audience
As a literary audience, readers are entering into an agreement to buy into whatever it is that the writer has to say. The reader agreeing to "suspend their disbelief" for a certain period of time. But the relationship is tenouous. Writers can't guarantee their audience will stick around, or pay any attention to what they have to say. The writer wants to engage the reader and keep them reading. But the writer can become anxious or worried the reader isn't following him or buying into what he has to say. The writer decides to address them directly, attempting to make direct contact. The writer feels this "reaching out to the reader directly" approach puts a face on the author or gives them a personableness that wasn't there before when they were merely talking "at" the audience. They feel they can draw the reader back into the story. SueanneDolentz

Writing textbooks have responded with stylistic techniques for gaining and maintaining the reader's attention. They emphasize using active verbs and concrete details; adding color; getting personal; etc. - not to clarify meaning, not to develop the idea futher, not to develop an insight, but to keep the reader reading. Boredom is the enemy, so keep the reader entertained. One response to this idea comes from Tufte. Discussing PowerPoint presentations, he writes, 'Audience boredom is usually a content failure, not a decoration failure.'

: Presentations largely stand or fall on the quality, relevance, and integrity of the content. If your numbers are boring, then you've got the wrong numbers. If your words or images are not on point, making them dance in color won't make them relevant. Audience boredom is usually a content failure, not a decoration failure. [http://wired.com/wired/archive/11.09/ppt2_pr.html PowerPoint is Evil]

(And the web has its own way of dealing with audiences--pop up internet ads. Bam: in your face. But there's a cost. A distinct written voice is scarcely discernable in such ads. The closer the audience is to the writer, speaker, performer, etc., the more control may be exercised over them. -BerneChristiansen and M C Morgan and LindsayLarson and SueanneDolentz and AaronReini and... )

There are other ways of thinking about writing and reading.

our wiki audience

We acknowledge that our audience is not captive. We have no control over you. You are free to leave at any time. Nor are we here to entertain you with 5-a-penny tricks. On the wiki, the reader can become a writer. And so on the wiki, it's the writer(s) job to help the reader move between reading and writing, between consuming and producing.

We're interested in working with the creative, participatory audience, the

' Control Over Audience? '

the idea of collaboration dispels the power/superiority notion. No one is necessarily telling anyone else anything, because the "no one" and "anyone" disappear. Content can be targeted, but there are no guarantees of reaching the

' Varied Opinions: '

*Someone can close a book or toss aside a magazine as they can close a window on a Website. The idea of audience changes drastically between print and the Web seems a bit ludicrous.

*There is a trend toward "non-captive" teaching. Students need to be in school, but the direct information passing is being increasingly blended by student-driven activities and hands-on experience.

*The print conception of audience-as-passive-receiver is simplistic. Real audiences are not faceless or passive.

Audience and style: consultative, formal, cooperative
audience, reader, and readers
Audience is a collective noun borrowed from face-to-face encounters, while the term "reader" implies a print relationship. What term is appropriate for the wiki? Reader, in part. But contributer, too, maybe?

We don't want every reader to contribute. There are downfalls to allowing people to

How about collaborator?

TheEditor: What does "borrowed from face-to-face encounters" mean?

It's suggested by Ong, in "The Writer's Audience is Always a Fiction." [
http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/bb/comp6.html] I can't find an online version. But here's an essay that makes use of Ong's ideas and may apply to what we're doing: [http://english.ttu.edu/kairos/7.3/coverweb/busker/bha.html Virtual Kairos: Audience in Virtual Spaces].

The Silent Audience
moved to ParticipatoryJournalism

The Creative, Participatory Audience
: TheEditor: I'm liking where this heading seems to be going. Bringing in McLuhan seems to help us formulate the idea of a wiki audience.

McLuhan spoke of the mass audience of electronic media as a successor to the prior notion of ThePublic, and it is a "creative, participating force."

He said: "Environments are not passive wrappings, but are, rather, active processes which are invisible...Print technology created the public. Electric technology created the mass."

There can be two kinds of audiences on a wiki, or two roles for audiences to play: participate by reading, and participate by reading and writing the wiki.

In The Medium Is The Massage,
McLuhan talked about electronic media producing a widened "family circle." As in, the information provided by electronic media goes far beyond mom and dad; essentially, AudienceAsFamily.

And also: "The medium is the m[a]ssage because it creates the audience most suited to it."

McLuhan's pun: "Mass-age." And of course, wikis and blogs alike are meant to be available to the masses.

' Hot and Cool '

McLuhan also wrote extensively about "hot" and "cool" media. A medium that is “hot” requires active participation from the audience, such as reading a book or newspaper. A “cool” medium could be enjoyed passively, like simply having the television on as background noise.

Television was the emerging, dominant medium during
McLuhan’s time, and therefore attracted much of his attention. He claimed television and other “cool” electronic media not only revolutionized communications but were transforming the very manner in which the human mind operates. He didn't think it was a good thing.

The Internet is the emerging medium. Unlike television, the Internet (wikis in particular) is primarily a “hot” medium -- users actively participate on and with the Web. This halts the trend from
McLuhan’s time of electronic media as “cool” media.

Wikis are the epitome of “hot” media. Not only must you actively read the wiki to gain anything from it, but you are afforded the opportunity to alter it with your own message.
McLuhan would have been in favor of such unabashed audience participation.

Wikis and Blogs are the hottest thing going, and everybody is jumping on the bandwagon.
McLuhan theorized forms of media that get too hot tend to reverse on themselves. Is there any danger of that happening here?

When we talk about "hot" media, we mean it that gets hot over time, before becoming too hot and reversing on itself. If the sign of a
HotWiki is the fear of people meddling with your writing, couldn't it be said that wikis are the reverse, that they start hot and cool down over time? Most of us were freaked when we first started on the wiki, but we are able to do this assignment without revolting proves that things are cooling down. Do you get where I'm going here?

A wiki growing too "hot" might means the participation hits an extreme, which could include the ever-present: "What if someone came in and deleted everything?" -- which could encompass not so much the fear of that happening, but it actually happening. The participation could hit an uncontrollable, damaging extreme that could turn on the wiki and (maybe?) destroy it. A wiki turning "cool" would mean a lack of "audience participation," which is basically impossible in a functioning wiki. For a wiki to reach the point where hotness grew too hot and turned to coolness, it would have to forsake the
WikiWay of engagement and active participation. -AaronReini, LindsayLarson and BerneChristiansen

' Meatball Wiki looks at audiences as participatory: '

: What's new about
TheAudience on the digital network is that people can respond--they can reply back to you, modify your text in collaboration, or steal your ideas and build on them; this either invades your sense of identity or reinforces the experience of WebExhibitionism inherent in radically publicizing your life. It makes your LifeInText? a negotiation with your readers, TheAudience; this is the opposite expectation of many. http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?TheAudience

: Contrast the
SilentPublic? of traditional media.

[See also

See Also:
TheBlogAudience and WhyRead

World Audience Audience as a ball and chain?
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