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Choosing an audience

Who is your intended audience for your weblog? Yourself? Friends? A select group of friends for whom you lock your entries? Family? Professional colleagues? To what degree do you consider audience when you write your posts? How do you tell if you've reached the right audience? Do you ever think or even care about audience when it comes to writing online posts?

When I started writing this one, my intended audience was my family. It's evolved greatly along the way, and now my intended audience is much more inclusive. I write the most for my friends, but I also consider my family and colleagues in my posts. At the back of my mind I always think before making a public post: would I be willing to have a search committee twenty years from now read this post?

(I've been thinking a great deal about the social structures which work with writing this week. I haven't played with the poll function on LiveJournal before, but I'm slowly mentally designing one on the subject of writing and audience which I won't figure out or post until I'm no longer paying by the minute for almost-local dialup.)

Comments

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sioneva
Jun. 16th, 2004 02:18 am (UTC)
Erm...I write for my friends and myself, primarily. If I get to the point of search committees, well, I'll be friends-locking it, I suppose! I want this to be a place where I feel free to vent about just about anything, not an item on my CV.
owlfish
Jun. 16th, 2004 08:55 pm (UTC)
I keep the search committee in mind not because I intend this to be a CV item, but because you can't trust anything publically posted not to be permanently a part of the internet and findable by search engine years from now. Search engines cache, remember. And there's always the Internet Archive to keep track of old versions of posts and websites.

This is why I friendslock a great deal more than I need to.

On the other hand, if your full name isn't attached anywhere to your weblog, then there's no reason anyone searching for you would find it that way, so it doesn't matter.
sioneva
Jun. 17th, 2004 02:24 am (UTC)
Oh, no, I completely agree--I suppose that in the end, I probably *should* keep it in mind, but I simply haven't.

When it all boils down to it, people can find you (and find out lots of information about you) regardless of how careful you are, unless you literally never have posted anything anywhere.

So...if it comes back to bite me in the tush, well, I'll worry about it then, I suppose!
chickenfeet2003
Jun. 16th, 2004 05:37 am (UTC)
I think I write in LJ for a variety of reasons and a number of different audiences.

To some extent it's just a chronicle and not really intended for any specific audience. Part of it is a way of interacting with the kind of intelligent people I rather miss in my everyday life. Occasionally it's an attempt to provoke either a specific individual or more generally. Rather like throwing a rock in a pond to see what happens.

I rarely post "friends only" and when I do it's mostly work related.
owlfish
Jun. 16th, 2004 09:03 pm (UTC)
The feedback, dialogue, and discussion is by far the biggest incentive to continue to post. I love the discussions that result! And I learn so much!
snowdrifted
Jun. 16th, 2004 08:39 am (UTC)
I've been thinking about the same thing, recently - my LJ has definitely changed since when I started.
I think initially it was more like my diary, a place to share what I was thinking about, but the audience wasn't huge since my friends list had about 3 people on it. ;) As I got to know more people online, the audience shifted to my friends list. Now, I think I'm back to journaling for myself, which has the side-effect of being very boring to others, I think. ;) Now I'm thinking of going full circle and doing diary-mode again, because it might be more interesting reading than just me talking about my day.
*shrug* *ponders*
owlfish
Jun. 16th, 2004 09:07 pm (UTC)
I like reading your updates since I can picture it in what I know about the rest of your life. Anyways, it's just nice to know on a daily or so basis that you're still around and about.
snowdrifted
Jun. 17th, 2004 05:16 am (UTC)
It's what I like about yours too. When you're traveling and going to conferences, it's nice to hear about what you're working on. :)
retsuko
Jun. 16th, 2004 09:07 am (UTC)
When I started, I was mostly writing for my geographically scattered group of friends. Now, I'm writing for myself a little more, and am getting less keen on sharing everything I write with the world.
littleowl
Jun. 16th, 2004 11:31 am (UTC)
Who is your intended audience for your weblog? Yourself? Friends? A select group of friends for whom you lock your entries? Family? Professional colleagues?

On LJ, I'm primarily writing for myself and friends. As I posted in the LJ itself, recently, I friends-lock a LARGE percentage of my entries and I also lock things down within that to specific friends groups. LJ has become my main means of communicating with a geographically widespread group of close friends, taking the place of written letters and even e-mail which is so clogged with spam that I can barely use it anymore.
I never write for my colleagues unless you count the odd entry on the online journal in which I engage in techno-babble and describe (or bitch about) design and development processes for the web.

My actual online journal (Thursday's Child) is quite a different beast. I tend to be more "literary" over there. I'm writing about personal things, but as stories rather than in my own voice. At least that's how it's evolved over the years. The online journal started out in a chattier vein way back when in 1997 and went through a gradual metamorphosis to wind up in the state it's in now. Unfortunately right at the moment, that means a hiatus. I've gone through several cycles of searching for my comfort-levels with personal, public expression and I'm another one now. It's why I'm posting more often at LJ overall and have let the journal lie fallow since late May. Writing in public is a very different beast than writing for a group of friends.

To what degree do you consider audience when you write your posts? How do you tell if you've reached the right audience? Do you ever think or even care about audience when it comes to writing online posts?

On LJ I carefully re-read posts before submitting them and decided what filtering level I want to put on them. I'm becoming more privacy-conscious after going through a very open phase. I've bumped up against one too many bad experiences and am feeling a little fragile at the moment so I'm slightly underground. Being completely private makes me uncomfortable too though, because if people hadn't started writing in the open in the first place, I feel like I'd have missed out on a lot. It's just that it can be hard to find that balance between sharing thoughts and oversharing.

I think at this point, when I'm writing on Thursday's Child, I've internalized the potential audience so much that I don't really think about it. I can sit down and put myself into the right "mode" for writing an open entry very quickly. It taps into a familiar part of my brain in which I enter story-telling mode and draw on the creative process of description.

Here on LJ, not so much. It's literally me, talking onto the screen. I just pay attention to what I'm saying and decided who I'm okay with seeing what I've written. Blam. Done.

Thursday's Child entries take more crafting to write.
Another reason why I haven't been writing there as much. No time to write there properly. As I see it, if I'm not going to write a proper entry there, I may as well just blather formlessly here where no one particularly cares -how- I'm saying things 'cos most of the people reading are my nearest and dearest.

Sometimes posting semi-privately can be very freeing.
owlfish
Jun. 16th, 2004 09:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you for writing all this and thinking it through. It helps me think about what my own audience and approach to writing for them is when I read through other peoples' thoughts on the same subject. I'm still thinking about your response - I'll probably write more later.
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