Writing for Web – Chapter 1 – Know Yourself and Your Audience

Assignment: Pick three words to describe your generation. Then write two paragraphs on why you chose those words.

My words: tech-savvy, impatient, opinionated

I am in Generation Y, and although I’m not entirely sure what that means, I didn’t hesitate when I scribbled down the three words above. Afterward, I thought of myself and the dozens of people I know around my age, and those three words applied. You may have noticed I cheated by using tech-savvy. I can do this because I used it properly (adjectives describe nouns, even hyphenated ones) and because I like it way more than techie. Generation Y is a group that is not afraid to try new technology. We are fearless when it comes to computers and devices and often view them as toys. We hear of a new iPhone or iPad coming out, and it is a competition about who can get it first. Others channel their excitement into programming; whether it’s building a new site or developing new software. I don’t know much about coding, but I’m happy to take instructions and work my way through it. If you had told me five years I would know how to work a WordPress site or a Central Content System, I would’ve laughed in your face. That is a common trait in my generation; when it comes to computers and mobile devices, bring it on. The more it can do, the more popular it is, and the harder we work to get it.

The last two adjectives tie together well. We are impatient and opinionated because of the technology used above. I used to get so frustrated in traffic and cussed my way through Tool’s Anemia on repeat, until one day I made myself stop. Generation Y hates to wait. It’s that simple. We whine about being in line too long, a drive thru too long, or sitting in traffic or at a light. We fidget, complain, honk, and yell because we have somewhere to be. We need to get over it and learn to breathe. That leads me to my final word: opinionated. Generation Y loves to tell you what it thinks. I’m definitely guilty of it (as you can see from this very site), and I want to be heard. All of us want to be heard and agreed with all the time. Maybe we’re used to controlling the technology, the machines and devices we own, or we are uncomfortable with real confrontation. With pushing a button, the device does exactly what we want. People do not work this way, and we don’t like it. What happens when we disagree with something? Watch out! Thanks to the world of websites and social media platforms, we can tell you how much or little we agree or disagree, and we expect you to care enough to read about it or watch us talk about it. YouTube, comment sections, “like” abilities, and forums make it possible for people to ramble endlessly about what they think. Not only is it possible, it’s encouraged. Generation Y loves to read its own thoughts.

Notes:

I learned some pretty interesting things in this chapter that focused on me, the writer, and you, the audience. I read about clarity, spark, and meaning – all of which are essential to effective Web writing. The assignments, all 10-minute nonstop exercises, included writing a letter to grandma, texting a friend, and the one above, which was my favorite. This assignment was significant because I had to write about a large group of people I hope to reach with our content.

Felder stresses being lively but straightforward, so I’m eager to learn how to be direct and purposeful without being dry. If the writing becomes dry or boring, she recommends stepping back and looking at it from another viewpoint. I struggle with this the most, and I wonder from what angle should I look?

What are your stepping-back strategies? Do you literally walk away for a few hours, or do you take skyline view approach? How do you change your vantage point?

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