Pingdom, Podcamp & the Audience

Are you ever amazed by the amount of time you spend reading and writing? It seems like I am always reading or writing, or thinking about reading and writing. Every one of my projects, personal, professional, and academic, is reading and writing intensive. This week I realized that, while all of my projects require different reading and writing processes, they have one important thing in common that helps to keep me engaged and focused – understanding my audience. My academic work influences my professional tasks, which is no surprise. This week I realized how much my professional projects can positively influence my study routines.

My professional projects include researching and writing a lot of different things. Grant proposals, constituent correspondence, copy writing, newsletters, technical writing, web site and social media content are a few of the forms and audiences my work must accommodate. Writing for the web and social media has taught me a great deal about efficient reading and writing skills. Why? I think because web-based communication must be succinct and there is always a different, specific audience to consider.

In digital forums the audience for each platform must be considered, not just the audience for a particular topic.  For example, the Facebook audience for my employer responds to very different content than our blog or web site audiences. Different content has to be prepared with our goal and each audience in mind. The web is an amazing place for a writer.  I started to wonder why it is such a busy, busy place, and why content on one platform is perceived so differently than on another. You would think anyone engaged with my topic would find it compelling anywhere it is published. But there is a real set of audience expectations for different platforms, and to be effective, it must be respected. What makes the web such a provocative place for written content?

Despite Pingdom’s herculean studies, social media and web content does not really seem to be ruled by demographics in the same way that other media is. The audience is just to broad. I think  social media platforms and other vehicles for web content is a lot like literary genres. An audience on one ‘genre’ or platform expects something very different from an audience on another one. This can mean an awful lot of writing, especially when managing multiple projects. The bottom line about the world-wide web is story telling. Everyone wants a good story. It is absolutely amazing. And it is easy to see how studying English literature can inform my professional projects. How my professional work informs my study projects is a little more interesting.

For example, it is very interesting to me that my practice essays always get higher marks than my exam essays. My professional projects gave me some insight. While writing practice essays I always think about the tutor who will read my paper, just like I think about my audience when I write professionally. In exams, the faculty, my audience, who will mark my paper is really not on my mind at all. More is the pity because meeting their expectations is central to my success, and as my audience, they deserve due consideration. That is something to think about. This weekend I am attending Podcamp, a two-day extravaganza where incredible people gather to discuss reading and writing, and contemplate the audience. I am attending professionally, but my academic work will likely benefit in extraordinary ways.

Caowrites is studying our BA English by distance learning in the USA.

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