Week 11: Choose Your Own Adventure

Week 11 Reading Response

I focused this week on the Blakeslee reading in the Spilka book. The idea of writing for audiences in the digital age is what this class is all about, so it really made sense to me as a topic for exploration. Two ideas came through for me: the idea of audience reading choice, and the concept of knowing your reader.

Reader Choice

At the outset Blakeslee states, “We have yet to re examine the notion of audience to determine if anything is changing or needs to change in response to the field’s shift to digital communication” (p. 200). This, I think, is a valid argument. Text documents and digital documents are sofundamentally different, that it’s hard to imagine it not having an impact.

One of the ideas that struck me as I was reading this was that, as readers use digital texts, they “become participants, control outcomes, and shape the text itself” (p. 215). She quotes Landow’s argument that, “the nonlinear nature of hypertext empowers the reader, whose choices make a uniquetext” (p.215).

The reason it stuck out to me is because it reminded me of a book fad that existed during the 80s. Choose your own adventure stories were books where you read the story up to a certain point, and then you got to a pivotal part of the story where you had make a choice. After choosing you would flip to the page that would continue your story, depending on the choice you made. I don’t remember how many endings they would have, but I would re-read those books over and over to follow all the paths.

Blakeslee’s discussion of hypertexts reminded me of that genre, and made me realize how pretty much hyperlinks are “choose your own adventure” stories times about a billion. Comparing it to a little, 150 page book made me realize, again, how mind-blowing the internet is with all its anticipatory hyperlinking, banner ads, and sidebar ads.

Knowing Your Reader

That anticipation of reader needs is another thing that provoked a lot of thought. One of the most fitting quotes was, “You don’t know what you don’t know” (p.208).  Anticipating reader needs can be very difficult, especially if you aren’t able to have direct contact with that audience. One of Blakeslee’s participants reaffirms the idea that, “One of my first concerns about an audience is that no one knows who it is. That’s an impossible situation to be in. We need to get somebody at the client, a stakeholder, to agree who the audiences are” (p.210). It is crucial to know and agree upon who these people are in order to tailor a useful message. She makes a good point, but the same was true with print.

Although she admits that much work needs to be done, she asserts that that writers need to take as much care identifying their digital audiences as they did learning about their print audiences. She advocates the idea of creating personas to obtain, “the kind of nformation about readers that writers are seeking” (p. 207). She also discusses, “interaction, especially with actual readers” (p. 208), so the writer can get an idea of user background, context of use, and perceived user needs.

I am glad that she discussed the fact that not every writer has the choice to meet their readers. In my experience, I’ve had it both ways. At the travel company where I worked I spoke with customers all the time. I even went on familiarization trips with actual customers. In the other job at a continuing education company for attorneys, I never even met one of our customers. I feel that I delivered better copy at the travel company because I met and made friendships with some of our “personas.”

It’s been a rough week, so this is all I have for creative this time around:


Posted on November 13, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Forgive me, but I don’t get the IM joke…Can you explain?

    Regarding your comparison of hyperlinks to “choose your own adventure” stories, this is actually addressed by Gunther Kress in his book Literacy in the New Media Age. Well, I think he refers to them as “imagined reading paths.” See here for more: http://www.knowledgepresentation.org/BuildingTheFuture/Kress2/Kress2.html

    [And there I go, making you click on a link, not knowing if you’ll come back to this page…]

  2. Heidi,

    It is interesting that navigating the Internet is kind of like choosing your own adventure. The outcome is whatever you, the user, decides it is. However, as communicators we don’t want to lead people down the wrong path. That is where knowing your reader comes in to play. The more we know about our audience; the easier it becomes to predict what they will do. We can design our websites in a way that keeps users on track.

  3. Hey, Dr. Daisy: I’d be glad to. Sometimes I’m so immersed in meme-ery that I forget which ones have escaped into the mainstream and which ones haven’t. Sorry about the links. I couldn’t embed in the reply like I can in an original post.

    According to Know Your Meme: “They See Me Rollin” is a popular catchphrase derived from the rapper Chamillionaire’s 2006 hit single, Ridin’. Soon after the single and video were released, people began spoofing the song.” Here’s the original: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtwJvgPJ9xw&feature=artist

    Of course, I found out about the song because Weird Al did a parody of it called “White and Nerdy.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9qYF9DZPdw

    “They see me rollin, they hatin’” as a meme has been around for a few years. In the current incarnation, it will usually be an image macro with someone/something using a weird mode of transportation.

    On the meme scene, I saw it everywhere. Here are a couple of examples of the ones I find funny:


  4. The second you mentioned “White and Nerdy” I got it!

  5. Donny Osmond nerd-dancing just makes me happy in a way that’s hard to explain. Also – the bubble wrap part? Good Lord, I laughed and laughed.

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