Wednesday 2 May 2012

WEB206 - Week 9: A New Media Audience

The nature of media consumption has shifted dramatically in the era of personal computers and the Internet. No longer are audiences made up of passive consumers who select from a small range of media channels. Now, faced with a seemingly endless variety of sources, readers have become far more selective and discriminating in terms of the media they consume. Furthermore, as audiences have become familiar with the interactive nature of digital technologies and the publishing platforms available, there has been a significant shift towards organic, community-driven content. The nature of audience expectations and engagement with texts has moved towards a participatory model where readers are actively involved in creation and remediation.

One of the results of this has been the emergence of communities on the Web that attract readers and contributors who are interested in specific niche interests, or in a particular 'angle' or political approach to general news. The 'audience' is made up of individuals who have a strong interest in the topic and who communicate that interest through a variety of platforms. Becoming an active voice in this environment requires a good knowledge of the topic you are writing about along with a willingness to engage with others in thoughtful dialogue rather than emotional argument.

This week's readings:
Cover, R. (2006). Audience inter/active: Interactive Media, Narrative Control and Reconceiving Audience History. New Media & Society, (8)1. Available from the library database.
Shirky, C. (2003). Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality. Retrieved October 14th, 2009, from

Are you actively involved in any online interest groups or communities? What elements do you think define engaging writing in this context?
I'm afraid I've been too busy the last few years to spend much time participating in online communities. I lurk around a few different Facebook groups, Whirlpool and a couple of other geeky places, and a couple of AFL forums (go Hawks!), and I have a couple of distinct circles of people that I interact with via Twitter, but that's about it. Back in the 90's I did the whole IRC and Usenet newsgroups thing, but that was Before Children. :>

Are there approaches to, or styles of writing that actively encourage conversation and dialogue from an audience?
I tend to respond better to people who are clear and articulate, and who can demonstrate a decent grasp of spelling and grammar. I also tend to respond well to people who can use humour effectively, and who discuss things in a way I can relate to. I agree too with Kym's point about conversational writing, as this encourages people to respond.

What sorts of impact can the audience have on online media texts such as blogs? What difference does this make to the media landscape in general?
I found Shirky's analysis of power law distributions quite interesting - that merely by one person choosing a blog, another person is more likely to also choose that blog. This also happens with things like Twitter - as soon as you read that Ashton Kutcher has a million followers, people will go and follow him purely based on that fact, even if most of what he says is complete tripe. Another side of that is that Ashton may then start tailoring his tripe to suit those million people, whereas perhaps before he didn't. So not only is the audience influencing who people should follow, but perhaps they are also influencing what is being said.

Writing Task - Entering the Conversation
As we have seen, the increasingly participatory nature of the Web calls upon publishers to become actively involved with their audiences. As both a publisher and a member of the audience, you will need to engage with others who are working in your particular area and become a part of a distributed conversation.
You should now have found a variety of sources that relate to your chosen topic. Select one of these sources that provide functionality for responding to an original piece of writing. (Eg. blog comments, discussion forums).
    Write a considered and informed response to a post of your choosing.
    This response should be no longer than 200 words.
As a part of this exercise, you will also need to consider how you are going to keep track of and monitor the impact of your commentary. The conversation that emerges from your commentary (or the lack thereof) will prove valuable in preparations for your final assignment.
Apologies for the delay (again). So far I've managed to run a week behind for approximately 7 weeks of this unit! Every time I think I'm getting back on top of things, something else pops up and bites me in the backside!

Anyway, I attended some seminars at the Melbourne Internet Show on Monday/Tuesday and heard a social media expert give a brief talk which I found quite interesting. I then tracked her down on Twitter and her blog. Much of what she talks about is relevant to my own blog so I thought it would be good both for this exercise, and also just for my networking in general, to comment on one of her posts.  Here 'tis:


ps: When I posted my comment I entered my email address, which is not published but is used to notify me of any replies.
pps: Her presentation from Monday's seminar is here if anybody is interested.


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