‘To Whom It May Concern’ – ‘Sit Notum Omnibus Presentibus’: In Other Words- This May Not Interest You However, Now That You’re Here, Read It Anyway

Thinking about media, audience and place, has been my modus operandi since the beginning of this university session. My current task is to reflect on what we have learnt with particular emphasis on our success in forming an audience for our blog posts (something in which I have foundered). I feel overwhelmed by the enormity of this topic and in the back of my mind there is something nagging at me about the course structure somehow not allowing us to reach the full potential of this subject. What’s the expression- in for a penny, in for a pound? So here I go!

In his article ‘Mass Media’, John Durham Peters gives us a very good explanation of how media operates:

Media are symbolic connectors consisting of three interrelated dimensions: message, means, and agents. Every medium has a “what,” a “how,” and a “by/to whom.” This triad—sign-content, delivery device, and authors and audiences—can be described in a variety of vocabularies. … [I]t is useful to understand media as a threefold system of content, channel, and creature. (Peters 2010, p.266)

From this we can see that media and audience go together like night and day and we are left only then to understand how place finds its own space within this tight-knit community. Your place or mine? If you think about it, media can’t succeed without an audience and an audience can’t exist without a place for it to occupy. In this subject we have been looking at how place interacts with the media thereby creating certain effects on the audience; so perhaps we could add a fourth wheel to Peters’ triad—that of place (not that I would be so presumptuous! It would only be for the purpose of increased understanding in this discussion).

Addressing an audience can be daunting. It is often easier to communicate with someone face-to-face, as the deliverer is able to react to verbal and non-verbal signs, adjusting the content and delivery style according to direct feedback from the other person. The Latin phrase ‘sit notum omnibus presentibus’ was used as an audience address which translates to ‘it is known to those present’ (a bit like a captive audience) the assumption being that if the audience were present, they would be interested. I imagine that in Roman times it would have been very easy to gauge audience response; agreement signified by cheering or smiling and disagreement being literally hurled at you in the form of rotten vegetables and fruit or perhaps even more dangerous objects.

Blogging, on the other hand, is mass media at its least intimidating. You are ‘speaking’ to an unseen audience and the danger of being attacked is minimised. It is a combination of what Peters describes as ‘personal interaction [where] particular content is typically addressed to one or a few usually familiar recipients [and] … mass media [where] … the delivery device multiplies both messages and opportunities for their reception [and] the audience expands to include strangers, and content must be adapted accordingly. Blogging has the ability to relay an intimacy, mimicking face-to-face conversation as well as recreating ‘everyday conversation [where] people are interchangeably senders and receivers’ (Peters 2010, p.267). It is easy to understand why blogging has been such a successful medium.

There are a number of things you can implement to increase your chances of being a more successful blogger. Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger is a great place to start. I found some worthwhile tips reading Gregory Ciotti and ‘42 Timeless Ideas for Attracting More Visitors to Your Website’ had a lot of helpful and humorous information. Having said all this, why did I fail at inviting an audience to my blog site? It was not until I started writing this post that I the realisation hit me of how important having a readership is to the success of blogging. I don’t think I really knew how to get one or why I should read OP blogs (other peoples) and it was not until this point in time that these things started falling into place. Blogging is like having a conversation and the more interesting and informative you are the more people are going to listen.  However, as my father used to say ‘Too late she cried as she waved her wooden leg’. If you can glean some meaning from this, please comment because I only have vague notions as to its true meaning.

An after-thought: I was going to try to explain why I felt this subject had fallen short in its delivery and one thing perhaps was a lack of theoretical framework, which I have become accustomed to in my university subjects. Other than that my notions are vague and not yet developed or am I just thinking about the delicate positioning of my final mark? In this scenario I am going with DON’T DO IT!

 

Resources:

Peters, John D 2010, Mass Media, in W.J.T. Mitchell & Mark B. N. Hansen (eds), Critical Terms For Media Studies, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, pp. 266-279.

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