Rethinking ‘Global Audience’ & Networked Digital Composition

Though not synonymous, digital composition and networked digital composition are often thought of as one and the same. In addition to the ease with which text, image and video can be manipulated digitally—especially with especially designed software for such purposes—networked digital composition explodes the possibilities for composition.

We can access information from a broader range of sources than ever before, including tapping into the flow of knowledge-building as it occurs via social media such as wikis, Twitter hashtag feeds, blogs with comments, etc. For example, recently Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki launched a digitally-born text that would result in both digital and printed text. By being not just digitally-born, but networked and available publicly, the text could be truly open-review and collaboratively composed. (I participated in the initial concept-generation phase, suggesting a chapter exploring how the processes of composing text [as opposed to the products that are the result of composing] in the humanities has been influenced by networked digital capacities, called The Composing Processes of Writing History Digitally.)

With networked digital composition, we can compose with media previously available only to programmers and professionals. Of course, we don’t have to be ‘networked’ to use software we’ve purchased, but with the Internet we have immediate access to freeware and online webpages such as Picnik for images or Aviary for music.

We also have access to audiences like never before–both during the composing process and for our finalized digital products. On deviantART artists of all skill levels can create portfolios of work, ask for feedback on pieces or pieces-in-process and can create little enclaves of similarly-minded artists. Text, image, sound can also be taken up by those who view it and remixed—or plagiarized, if you will—with ease. Not only is networked digital composition available to one intended audience, it is potentially available to any number of individuals and enclaves, both nearby and global.

It is this final idea—the potential global audience—that I’d like to pause to consider. Though the fastest adopted technology we’ve seen worldwide—doubling in the last five years—the actual access to global audiences, who can participate similarly to those within the US, is far more limited than it may sound. Only 20% of those in ‘developing’ countries are online (see the link to “The State of the Internet Now” below), and those who are mostly on their cell phones. Marion Walton’s research out of South Africa asks us to question the assumed dominance of the computer in the digital age. She describes a ‘mobile-centric’ use of digital media: books via text, tweet, or the like; links to Youtube-like sites sent via text; chatting on the phone. Not only is the access to the Internet different across countries, but their devices, forums, and thus practices are also different.

State of the Internet 2011
Created by: OnlineSchools.org

All of this leaves me to wonder:

  • When we are composing with networked digital tools, what do we need to take into consideration regarding our potential global participatory audience?
  • What influence does this have on our composing processes and products? What influence does this have when reading texts from global sources? What influence should this have?

In the comments, I’d love to hear further questions that come to mind, as well as ideas you have as to how to begin to answer these questions.

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4 thoughts on “Rethinking ‘Global Audience’ & Networked Digital Composition”

  1. Not to answer your questions or be thoughtful in any way — but here is another way of presenting information that I found fascinating.

    Gotta love TED talks. 🙂

  2. Anxious to share my new digital knowledge with family members and friends living in Africa, Mongolia, and the UK, I have be thwarted more than once by the lack of availability. Sometimes there isn’t a strong enough connection to even support what I consider basic, like gmail and face-time. Other times, there isn’t a connection at all. At times dependence on technology can be frustrating. The flip side is – that it is nothing short of a miracle to talk in real-time to a granddaughter on the other side of the world, and to look out her window and see what she is seeing, or to read a e-mail generated letter. I like the idea of “shrinking” the globe and creating something universal. It’s too late and we’ve come to far to give up and accept that people must remain in digital darkness.

  3. I agree and see the good points in that “With networked digital composition, we can compose with media previously available only to programmers and professionals.” I think that in bridging the digital divide that is present, utilizing the access we have to audiences, “–both during the composing process and for our finalized digital products,” can provide great benefits in the composition process, as various authors, composers, specialists, etc… can all be reached and have the opportunity to provide valuable feedback. This would allow for a huge multicultural perspective, which in and of itself could prove immensely helpful.
    As for addressing the digital divide and working to reach a truly global audience: I believe that we can utilize these programs available and work to use them as a means to increase productive, learner friendly, and student centered learning activities. With activities such as art, which can bridge any language barrier, slowly, as technology becomes more widely accessible, the digital divide will begin to lessen, and more individuals can become a part of the intended global audience.

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