Saturday, December 30, 2006

Lurking on the web? or being a good public audience?

So, here's my question: I visit a number of blogs by academics, colleagues, friends, etc, but I rarely comment. Should I comment more often to let them know that I was visiting? Otherwise, does it seem creepy that I am reading their publically published material and not saying anything? When I read the blogs of graduate students in our department, it's interesting to see their perspectives on what is going on. Sometimes I comment, such as to point out the happy coincidence that we are reading the same book, etc. I wonder if that seems too "supervisory" or Foucauldian? On the other hand, my friend and colleague (and GTA) Michael reminds me that after all, it's a public blog and if someone doesn't want the material read, they shouldn't be pubically publishing it. Good point #1. And the fact that few people comment on my blog doesn't mean that few read it. Good point #2.

Writing to a non-specific "general" audience undermines some of the usual audience analysis that rhetoricians would normally do, and yet, the content and tone of a blog sort of self-selects an audience, doesn't it?


Blogger amd said...

I know that for me, one of the big stumbling blocks to commenting on academic blogs is that the comment I want to make is very rarely the same kind of off-the-cuff comment I might make on a friend's blog (that focuses on their everyday life), or on a knitting or cooking blog.

Even if there isn't anything I feel like I need to look up or double-check elsewhere (which is rare), when I want to say something about an academic post, it almost always requires some thinking, some re-thinking and even some revising. Not to mention that it usually takes a lot of words to get it all said.

So I usually bookmark the blog to get back to it later, when I have time to write the comment, and then I never do.


11:41 PM  
Blogger LINDA BARNES said...

Some might argue that when we write, we are really just writing for oursevles. I am often aware that in writing, I am actually discovering what I fee/lthink/believe. I don't always want or need anyone else to read my writing. I don't even "need' you to read this, Sara. But it is rewarding to have a conversation -- if not with a friend, at least with another aspect of oneself.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Michael Faris said...

I'd say, no, you don't have to let someone know you are reading their blog. Do I have to let someone know I am reading their journal article or buying their book? If someone wants to know who all is reading their blog, they can get a tracker and find out (although they just get location and IP addresses).

I'd say there is still a lot of audience work being done when writing/analyzing blogs. Who do we want to attract? Who do we think/fear/know is reading? What do I limit, how do I present myself for this "imagined audience"?

4:24 PM  
Blogger Sara Jameson said...

You're so right, Anne-Marie. If I am going to comment to Clancy Ratliff's ultra-high rhetorical blog Culture Cat, I sure as heck want to sound smart! I don't want a casual comment that is available for the world to see unless I think it is top notch. I think my attitude is unfortunate because we would advance our conversations much more if we were willing to risk being ourselves more.

6:03 PM  

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