Thinking About Audience

One of the reasons I make my students keep blogs is that it forces them to consider an audience. If they write a journal on paper or in a Word file, they know that I am the only person who is going to read it; write that same document in a blog, and they know their peers will see it too, and conceivably anyone who stumbles over their work. Heck, Neil Gaiman or Stephen Fry might find their blog, who knows! For most of them, this tends to change their work, to “up” the quality – isn’t it interesting that they’ll write better for an audience of their peers than for me 😉

So I shouldn’t be surprised that in this blogging challenge I find myself thinking about audience more than usual. I’m publicizing the challenge; I could be attracting a new readership to this blog, including my own professional peers and other members of the college or wider teaching community. And even though I’ve always had an audience at the back of my mind, as you have to when writing a public blog, all of a sudden that audience has become more immediate and real. Has it changed my writing? You bet! I find myself much more conscious of spelling and grammar – heaven forbid that someone catch me out in an error. I’m taking care to preview my work, and am being more scrupulous about my writing. Because I’ve linked my Twitter feed to the entry publicizing the challenge, I find I’m censoring my tweets just a bit more than usual, and limiting the personal content a bit: writing less about what I had for breakfast and more about what I’m reading while eating it.

I’ve been blogging for six years, and blogging really seriously for four. I maintain two regular blogs: this one, and a “personal” blog on LiveJournal. Although my LJ blog is theoretically public, I’m reluctant to attract a readership beyond the chosen circle of “friends” there, and will never link to it from a more public blog. I’m realizing that in the blogging world, as in “RL” – real life – I monitor the information I divulge depending on the level of friendship. I have very close friends, close friends, acquaintances, and random meetings online, just as I do in the “real” world. What it can be difficult to remember sometimes, though, is that conversations at the level of “to a very close friend” can be seen and responded to by those I’d put in the “random” category. Is that going to stop me from revealing myself in my personal blog, or on Twitter? No, but I may be more careful. You never know when Neil Gaiman might stop by.


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