As many of you will know that while I am doing a media and communication degree, I am a Journalism/Professional Writing major. A large portion of my degree is writing: blogging; essays; stories; articles…
In my degree we have discussed the concept of ‘prosumers‘ and interactivity and audience participation countless times. However I was reading “When Readers Become End-Users: Intercourse without Seduction” by Jane Dorner and a quote jumped out at me.
“Writers need readers, not users, in order to make a living”
And that line surprised me a little bit.
I have always considered the ‘prosumer’ as a positive change, where individuals can be more immersed in their favourite aspects of media culture I blogged about Fan Fiction in Convergent Culture sharing some of my favourite examples of an active consumer. And I was aware that there was a potential for negative effects (I even blogged about some in Copyright Culture) but they always seemed to be little problems for big corporations.
But the reason that quote struck me is because I am a writer. I produce content. I blog, I write creative stories, even the essays I write for university are my works. And that’s something that I want to continue doing throughout my life, potentially in a career. But up until I read that I never considered the possibility that my audience was an active one.
Dorner’s whole article (though a bit dated) explores the concept that words don’t seem to be property anymore. That concepts, ideas, opinions are fluid, and its hard to view that content as a physical thing. There is a more recent article by Rob Cover called “Audience inter/active; Interactive media, narrative control and reconceiving audience history” which is all about reevaluating the author-text-audience relationship (pg 139) and he too talks about the role of writers and the no-longer passive reader.
My readers can comment, and are welcome to note their approval/agreement or criticise my opinions/writing ability/articulation. Readers can ‘like‘ my post. Readers can ‘follow‘ my blog. Readers can ‘share‘ it across other media platforms…
But these are all features that are available through my chosen platform. They aren’t features of the ‘prosumer‘ culture. I have to admit, I still don’t really know how I feel about my readers being ‘users’. I just can’t imagine anyone wanting to have a more active interaction with my work; is that naive of me? If it isn’t affecting me now, it is something that I certainly will have to come to face as I continue to write and publish work online.
Cover, R “Audience inter/active; Interactive media, narrative control and reconceiving audience history” New Media & Society, February 2006 vol. 8 no. 1 139-158′
Dorner, J. (1993) ‘When readers become end-users: intercourse without seduction’, Logos, Whurr, London, 4(1):6-11