I’ve always tried to avoid using the terms ‘user’ and ‘users’ to describe the people who browse to, and interact with, websites. In my last post, I typed ‘user engagement’ and then changed it to ‘audience engagement’ as I have done before – when I remember to. Anyway, that simple change triggered a little thought experiment that I thought I’d share here.
Take the term audience and think about what it means in various contexts… impersonal passive audiences exists within the print, television, radio & cinema paradigms. At the theatre, audiences have a more personal relationship with the ‘content’ but are still mostly passive. Live stand-up comedy audiences are almost always active participants in the content. Classrooms are perhaps the ultimate in participatory audiences and very personal.
There are an almost infinite number of situations where you can place the audience/content relationship on the spectra of participation and personal connection.
What about the web? The relationship between web audiences and the content they consume speaks volumes about the evolution of the web in recent years. We are moving ever so steadily along the path to from a print audience paradigm to one that approximates that of the classroom.
What does that mean? Do we all miss our classrooms so much that we want our web to resemble one? Is the evolution of the web being driven by folks who still spend most of their time in classrooms? Is the classroom a healthy environment on which to model our online existence?
I don’t have those answers yet, but it has given me a lot to think about.Pin It