Broadcast or Narrowcast?
by David BackerPosted on March 17th, 2011 at 1:08 pm
Normally the term is used in reference to technologies that send out information to specific groups (eg, email lists). But every technology is an extension of a mental state—so a narrowcast refers to more than just a technology, it refers to a state of mind.
When I write a blogpost with a specific audience in mind—when my writing is “meant for” a specific group—my attitude is narrowcasted. Like preaching to a choir. In contrast, if I’m looking to communicate with anyone and have no particular audience in mind, then my attitude is broadcasted.
Similarly, independently of my intentions, if my writing only gets a small emergent readership, then it’s narrowcasted. And if it gets a wide readership (“goes viral”) then it’s broadcasted.
I can control the first one. It’s my will, my intention, and my decision to communicate with a specific group in mind or with anyone who will listen. The second I can’t control. It’s who ends up listening independently of my intentions.
What’s the attitude in online literature: broadcasted or narrowcasted, and what’s the emergent readership like? Are we writing for anyone and everyone, or are we writing for a specific audience (parents, friends, MFA communities, the “literary minded”)? If so, is that who ends up reading it?
I guess a boiled-down version of this question is: What are our intentions when we publish literature online? Are we hoping to go viral, shout into nothingness, build our CVs…?