Public and Private Writing on the Internet

Topics: Blog, Writing, Communication Pages: 8 (2360 words) Published: February 26, 2014

Assignment 3

Reflective Essay


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Question 2: How has the division between public and private writing been influenced by the rise of social media?

Using Social Media as a channel from which to disseminate the written word within the private style, the public communication profession suffers now from a decentralization of publishing power and competes with mass amateurization of the produced word (Anderson, 2009 & Shirky, 2002). Acting as a platform, social media combines mass media qualities with a subjective private writing style, formerly retained for the purpose of creating profit from objective public produced print, blurring the distinction between author and audience (Lüders, 2008). However, some characteristics from both pre and post-social media share commonality but differ in the scale to which they are produced. Pre-social media, the informal private writing style was not uncommon. Diaries and journals produced this type of personalised writing consistently. The authors believed the text to be limited in publication or for a specific and small pre-determined audience often based on geographical location (Walker Rettberg, 2008). Conversely, the public word presented an agenda under the guise of formal impartial views regarding the issues of the day (Blood, 2002). This carefully constructed body of work was structured in such a way as to appeal to the passive majority of people in order to produce for the commercial enterprise, economic gain (Anderson 2009). With the introduction of social media the power dichotomy between public and private writing became inverted. Social media gave the layperson the ability to publish the private word prolifically, on a global digital scale, destroying the geographical and newsworthy boundaries previously hindering its worldwide publication (Blood, 2002). In an attempt to adapt to this newfound digital environment, commercial enterprise began to create relationships with the public, through social media as well as traditional media formal channels. However, the difference being the engagement of people in a personal voice through the ‘everyman’ platform (Aziza, 2010). Using social media as a communication channel, audience becomes producer and consumer and business organisations now reach out using personal voice to engage the clients on an informal level so as to encourage relationship formation.

Boyd (2006) writes the disembodiment of the spatial and corporeal voice due to the intangibility of the online medium has affected the previously distinct public and private communication spheres. The obscuring of these once individual world’s characteristics, can be attributed to the increase ability of the layperson to publish their works via social and participatory media. To understand the consequences of social media use, the history of traditional media must be defined thus giving context to the concept of public and private writing and the significance of the introduction of social media.

Walker Rettberg (2008) describes an old media world in which mass communication was produced by a one-to-many system. A small amount of producers created ‘public’ style content for large passive audiences. Drawing on personal experience, the ability to interact with print, visual or audio media was more or less non-existent. Should I have wish to engage with media...

References: Anderson, C. (2009). Free: The Future of a Radical Price. Retrieved from
Aziza, B
Blood, R. (2002). Weblog Ethics. In The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog. (pp. 114-121). Retrieved from

Boyd, D. (2006). A Blogger’s Blog: Exploring the Definition of a Medium. [Web log post]. Retrieved November 4 from
Jensen Schau, H
Lomborg, S. (2009). Navigating the blogosphere: Towards a genre-based typology of weblogs. First Monday, 14. Retrieved from

Lüders, M. (2008). Conceptualizing Personal Media. New Media and Society, 10, 683-702. DOI: 10.1177/1461444808094352
Miller, D
Nardi, B.A., Schiano, D.J., & Gumbrecht, M. (2004) Blogging as Social Activity, or, Would You Let 900 Million People Read Your Diary?. Retrieved from
Shapiro, A
Shirky, C. (2002, October 3). Weblogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing. [Web log post]. Retrieved from
Technorati: State of the Blogosphere 2011
The Science of Building Trust With Social Media. (2010, February 24). Mashable, Retrieved 6 November 2013 from

Walker Rettberg, J. (2008). Blogging. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Walker, J. (2008). Blogs, Literacies and the Collapse of Private and Public. Leonardo Electronic Almanac, 16(2-3). Retrieved from
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