Cultural Osmosis: how can we tap in?

There was a time when we discussed how primary and secondary audiences were important to think about before beginning to write or create. The primary audience is the one you are trying to target whereas the secondary audience is the one which will read your piece by cultural osmosis. In Jim Ridolfo and Dannielle Nicole DeVoss’ “Composing for Recomposition: Rhetorical Velocity and Delivery” that initial understanding is expanded upon, leading to a discussion of how you want those audiences to interact with your work and how that work will interact with varying mediums.

In our group’s campaign on poverty, we have many angles to work so that we can reach out to as much of the population as possible to change perceptions; that is the stated goal. We understand that our audiences primarily include students as well as public officials, but also teachers, civil servants, and ordinary citizens secondarily. In Ridolfo and DeVoss’ piece, we learn that it’s not just important to know who that audience is but how a piece might travel through different spaces and mediums.  This quandary is raised more simply in a figure on rhetorical velocity: “What genres and mediums will the works transcend?”. The authors are trying to engage readers and potential writers with a question that is expressly relevant in this digital age. We as writers need not only consider our audiences but also the mediums through which those audiences will interact with our writing.

For instance, our campaign might hand out flyers or brochures to passersby but then a student might take a picture with their phone and post it on their social media page. How might we as progenitors of said piece incorporate this understanding in the design and rhetoric we choose to employ? How might we facilitate this interaction, make it easier for them to post it on social media, causing more to do so and spreading our message? It might be in our campaign’s best interests to create a flyer which is easily shared over social media so that we capture as wide an audience as possible.

Flyers might engage a different audience than social media users but there are some similarities. Designs for both, to my mind, should be brief, eye-catching, and informative. It shouldn’t take a person more than a second to draw interest in reading, nor should it take a social media user longer than a few seconds of scrolling to gather that same interest. It might be easy to design a piece which panders to each audience and amplifies the effects of both. We as creators could consciously include phrases and pictures that mimic social media posts, even though it is in written form, to engage an audience which is adept at social media. This would work to our benefit as we seek to involve as large an audience as possible, utilizing the ease of access to the internet and phones to share our physical pieces.

Another interesting angle this article’s questions have prompted me to think about is how we as campaign designers might also include something in that flyer that asks readers to share it, whether it be through social media or otherwise. We should encourage individual activism on a college campus that is presumably already primed for it. Somewhere on the piece, there could be a phrase that says something to the effect of “Take a picture and share this with your friends, your social media network. Spread the word.” There would certainly be more nuanced thought given to the wording but the gist is that such an inclusion would amplify our message.

A third, tertiary medium I thought about was newspapers and news media. When a campaign blows up on social media, it might spill over into traditional media sources such as the local news or newspaper. Given that possibility, we then must consider how our campaign piece interacts with that medium and its audience. It’s more of a stretch but I believe some thought should be given to it at the very least. How might you plan a piece to engage with three mediums let alone two? That is for us as writers to decide and for our readers to discover.

The article has really given me much to think about regarding not just who we are trying to reach but how they can help us. It builds on my growing understanding of how we as writers have many, many ways of interacting with our readers beyond our initial understanding of audiences. I would have never thought of creating pieces with secondary and tertiary mediums in mind without such a discussion of velocity and rhetoric from DeVoss and Ridolfo.

One thought on “Cultural Osmosis: how can we tap in?

  1. Great job nailing the plural form of passerby!! 🙂

    I think your discussion of how a flyer might be repurposed from one medium to another was really apt for the reading this week. I want to push you to think further on how digital and print flyers require similar rhetorical perspectives.

    Perhaps one version of a flyer works well in print and digitally, but is it also possible that another version of a flyer works well in print but less so digitally or vice versa? What do you think? If so, why? What are the differences in medium that you might take into account when composing a flyer with rhetorical velocity in mind?

Comments are closed.