“It was like talking to someone who wasn’t listening” (importance of audience)

Konrad Glogowski (The Blog of Proximal Development), who’s writing a dissertation on blogging communities in education at the University of Toronto, describes what happened when the blogs in his classroom went down and were down for two weeks. The students were very entwined with their blogs, to the point of feeling as if learning couldn’t go on without the blogs. But my favorite part is this:

“You know that assignment last night that we did on Word?”
“Yes. Did you do it?”
“I did, but writing it felt strange.”
“How so?”
“It was like – like talking to someone who was not listening.”

Fascinating… that this would be a newish consciousness to them, but also that they would have gained such an intense sense of audience. Sense of audience is so often — at least before blogs and online self-publishing — one of the weakest of a student writer’s skills.

But these students are lucky to even feel so lonely, in a way. What I did when I was writing in my journal during the 70s, 80s, and 90s (sheesh — long time!) was project, imagine an audience. I imagined, I don’t know, GOD listening, or I imagined writing to my future self. Or, in my early twenties, when I was much more of a grandiose person, I sometimes imagined my journals being published in book form! It wasn’t as if I felt as if I was writing book-quality stuff then. It was that I had high dreams for my future accomplishments. I had this “I’m going to do something great” feeling, and so the idea that my “early” journals might be published was certainly a possibility! (!).

Now I just have a sense of wasted potential in general. :-(

P.S. Michael Faris refers/responds to this post too.

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3 thoughts on ““It was like talking to someone who wasn’t listening” (importance of audience)

  1. The internet and blogs are sort of weird. My brother has more of an identity on the internet than off. I know another person who kind of disturbed me by saying that his conversations online feel more authentic than his conversations in real life, or what he calls “meatspace.” You’ve probably heard that before.

  2. oooh, “meatspace” — no, I hadn’t heard that before. But wow, what a fascinating word. I don’t know whether I LIKE that epithet or not. But I do like its vividness. Wow, meatspace… I got get used to that one.

    Some people feel more real online because they, for whatever reason, feel they can be more themselves, more open — they feel less inhibition and shyness. So sometimes there can be a rush to intimacy, a rush to openness that you don’t get when you talk to people in person (at least not at first, and/or not for a while).

    Interesting stuff.

  3. Yeah, now that I think about it both of the people I know who kind of live online are very shy and socially awkward/inept. They’re both extremely intelligent and have always sort of been “different.”

    I suppose there isn’t anything truly invalid about it. But there is something that makes me feel wary of it, and maybe a little disturbed by it.

    I’m going to set up my own blog and maybe start it off by talking about Matthew. Maybe I’ll copy in some stuff we’ve talked about here.

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