November 18, 2007

Thinking about Audience Matters

This post was last updated on September 5th, 2011 at 11:05 am

There’s been lots of discussion about whether one blogs for themselves or for others. I’m too lazy to find the hyperlinks but I know Miguel has argued he blogs for himself while others, is it you Dan? that argues you blog for an audience. For me it’s somewhere in the middle but certainly clicking Publish means anyone can read it.

I too often make the assumption that most of my audience is like me. Involved in education, interested in technology and change and all that stuff and live in North America. Probably for the most part that’s true. But when realize your Uncle Bill, a retired veterinarian, Jim, a radio disc jockey and Willem an technologist from the Netherlands, read your work, occasionally comment you begin to think more deeply about what you write. To ignore it would be presumptuous.

When I go to give a workshop, I  usually begin  with finding out as much as I can about the audience. What do they hope to gain from our time, what is their current level of understanding and so forth. Most good teachers work with where folks are at. I realize that with as my audience grows it becomes difficult to consider all perspectives but at the same time I think perhaps our readability ought to invite a broader, more diverse audience.

Willem wrote a comment today and a post on my previous entry on commenting. He asks a good question:

Now, also I realize it’s much easier for us to comment on a weblog in English than the other way around. So what about globalization? Should the whole world start posting in English so it’easier for everyone to comment? I’ve tried the translators from MS and Google on my weblog but after translation I could’nt understand my own posts anymore.

While I don’t think we can accommodate every reader who may speak another language, either literally or professionally, I’m thankful for readers like Willem, Uncle Bill and Jim who make me think more deeply about what I write that conversations can expand beyond the typical and more homogeneous members of my network.

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14 thoughts on “Thinking about Audience Matters

  1. Pingback: Thinking about Audience Matters | Technology

  2. cpbw

    Interesting post. My personal frustration as a French Immersion teacher arises from the fact that all my web 2.0 integration occurs in English. My students have commented that English is the fun class where we get to communicate and collaborate with others. Although we integrate technology to enhance learning in our other subjects, our community or networks aren’t French and this greatly limits the possibilities for collaboration outside of our physical classroom.

  3. Paul Hamilton

    There is wonderful richness in the variety of blogs out there. I think we write blogs, and we read blogs, for a wide range of purposes. I normally read blogs because I want to learn or otherwise be enriched. So, whether the author intended it or not, he or she has written the post for me. I think many bloggers are motivated to write in large part because they want to share with others. I write my own blog in order to share resources with other educators, and I’m always encouraged when someone tells me I’ve been helpful. It has been a bonus when I get positive feedback from someone outside my targeted audience. One of the wonders of the internet is that it’s all available to anyone, for just about any purpose under the sun.

  4. Sue Waters

    Well now you have me wondering. Perhaps as an American you assume that most your audience lives in America. I have never once assumed that my audience is mainly Australian – perhaps because I live in one of the most isolated cities in the world which would make my audience very small 🙂 . I have always accepted the fact that my audience is global and from a range of backgrounds besides educators (and just wish I could read Romanian so I know what Gabriela Grosseck writes about me). And I also write for the middle ground but ultimately it is about my own personal learning.

  5. Pam Shoemaker

    I also assume that most people who visit my blog tend to be American or Canadian; I don’t think many visit my blog… I’m a “small potato” blogger. However, as my personal learning network is getting larger (mainly due to Twitter and the folks I have met through the Webcast Academy), I am beginning to make connections with people from other countries, and I am very much enjoying it. I’m also enjoying connecting and learning with others in N. America who live many miles away. I wish there was a way to know who visits my blog and where they are from!

  6. Dean Shareski Post author

    Sue,

    It’s true it’s my personal learning that I’m sharing but since I’ve invited the world to participate, I have to think differently about how I write. I think it’s a good thing for us to consider audience. The two groups I’m most concerned about speaking with is non-educators and non-English speaking readers. I realize there may not be much I can do about the latter but it’s too easy to use educational jargon that might omit some from participating. I think it’s fine for bloggers to speak to a niche audience but for me, I do want to reach a more diverse crowd. So much of educational change requires understanding from those in the general public and my belief that life long learning is for everyone should shape my thinking.

  7. Sue Waters

    Good point Dean and so totally right. Yes it is about my own personal learning which is why I will blog about whatever not just mobile learning and mobile technologies. But I do explain in more detail often to ensure that the information is in sufficient detail for my audience to understand. I love the fact that I have connected with a diverse audience which each contribute in different ways.

  8. Miguel Guhlin

    Dean, interesting perspective. After long retreats from blogging, I find myself writing to my perception of an audience…after a few entries, i remember to have fun and my voice starts to come through (or at least, I hope so). That’s when the writing gets interesting…when I lay aside my perceptions of the audience who MIGHT be reading, then begin writing for myself about my own learning.

    I found Sue’s perspective–living in Australia, isolated, and writing for a world audience by default–to be excellent. It’s that perspective that perhaps gives other countries an edge over Americans who are so comfortable just satisfying their own sensibilities. how interesting that a Canadian had to point this out.

    ;->

    Thanks,
    Miguel Guhlin
    Around the Corner-MGuhlin.net
    http://mguhlin.net

  9. Jim Strom

    “Jim, a radio disc jockey” is also a retired teacher, so I have a professional reason for coming here. Another reason is that having worked with Dean, I like to keep abreast of what he’s currently up to. I don’t understand a lot of what he’s talking about, but I’m happy he’s got a job. “Who do I blog for?” Intriguing question. Stimulating.

  10. Carolyn Foote

    Dean,

    Interesting perspective and questions.

    When I was doing some research for sites for our foreign language teachers, I ran across this rich resource which has lists of popular web 2.0 tools in other countries. It was fascinating to explore the different tools, and see what was popular elsewhere, and I thought it’d be exciting to try some of these with our students.

    http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/top_spanish_web_apps.php

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