My Readers and Me

I never really thought about creating a role for my reader, or building a relationship with them. In a sense, I was subconsciously recognizing this situation but no one had ever brought it to my attention. We always ask questions like “Who is your audience?” or “Who are you trying to reach?” but sometimes in asking these questions we get caught up in looking at the larger demographic rather than thinking about the individual. This piece helped me to visualize an actual person, in my target audience, physically reading my research and reacting to the words. Do they feel a connection to the text? Or rather, do we, the writer and reader, have a connection? By playing these roles I can create a “social contract” that guides us both in carrying out our roles. This agreement: “I’ll do my part if you do yours,” takes information sharing and makes it a human experience rather than a purely academic one. And admittedly, I shamelessly fell in love with this reference to Sociological theory because I’m a passionate Sociology major!

In addition to this social contract, it’s important to entertain the reader with your knowledge. Simply spewing information is not enough. A Presentation is only as compelling as the presenter presents it to the audience and there is no difference here. In particular, I learned from the the Zeppelin Club example. I tend to assume that my reader is already interested in my topic, because I am, but you can’t assume that everyone is an eager member of the Zeppelin club. Instead, offering fresh and interesting information will serve to attract the aloof as well as the eager– it’s better to be safe than sorry (I usually don’t like using cliches in my writing but that one seemed so fitting!) Anyway, using hooks like new information will be a breath of fresh air, and will be evidence of you holding up your end of the social contract.

One thing that I’d like to push back on is the “Organize and Plan” portion of sharing your writing in a group. I think interactive group facilitation is important, and constructive, but I’m not sure that it needs to be so structured. Often times my best feedback is in a more casual and laid back setting where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas and having them work as a conversation, rather than specific feedback. When it seems more like a creative group brain-storm, it can be more natural. And, I think the writing process should be more organic, anyway. Dividing and delegating for revision can be useful in very large groups, but for the purposes of this class I think respectful, free-flowing, conversation can be perfectly helpful.

In many ways, casting yourself, and the reader in different roles can help to visualize, and better execute your research. Once you see your argument as your script between writer and reader, the two can be connected by the strength of the representation of the material. Reaching out to the reader by upholding your end of the bargain as an engaging writer can be a challenge–but a vital realization in enhancing your argument.

 

 

2 thoughts to “My Readers and Me”

  1. Hey Kit! I too, resonated with the “social contract” example and the way it humanizes the research process. Information sharing today can be so impersonal, with little thought for who will be reading it or where the information might be going. Making the little extra effort to create a bond with your reader will allow the arguments you make and things you have to share have much more of an impact. I, along with maybe you and probably many of our classmates, am thinking about incorporating social media as an aspect of Major Project 1. Social media is a place where people are always interacting with their audience. I know that my younger sisters know their audience extremely well when using social media– they know exactly what to post to get likes, shares, comments, etc. They know how to ‘hook’ their audience into conversation, just like the authors note in “Craft of Research”. I think for an academic project using social media it is important to keep that same framework in mind. Target an audience, know who that audience is, and what their preferences are. Then you can effectively use a ‘hook’ to get that audience on board with your arguments and claims. Making the info sharing of the modern world a human experience is extremely important, and I’m glad you touched on this Kit!

  2. Hi Kit!
    Ah I’m studying sociology too! I love thinking about the essence of writing as a human to human connection. I love your point: “This agreement: “I’ll do my part if you do yours,” takes information sharing and makes it a human experience rather than a purely academic one.” Academia is just a surface level connection, whereas the essence of all reader/ writer relationships is the human experience, the communication of ideas and feelings.
    I completely agree with your critique of the very structured group-work plan laid out in the “organize and plan” section. I often resist super structured work, and find that I learn the most when I engage in spontaneous, passionate conversations with friends. In this setting, one is lead by feeling rather than instruction, and this guide leads to much more interesting work.

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