A response to my response: How writing is a conversation, not a performance
On Friday I posted a shoutout to a couple of baseball slideshows, one of them a review of the worst free-agent signings in Boston Red Sox history.
I couldn’t resist mentioning that I took issue with one of the players listed, J.D. Drew at No. 4, who, according to Fangraphs’ player valuation tool, has been worth just about exactly what he’s been paid over the course of his Red Sox contract.
Today the writer, Red Sox featured columnist Matt Strobl responded with another slideshow: J.D. Drew: Why he has been a bust with the Boston Red Sox.
Strobl told me in an email that he was “inspired” by my post to “go all Drew-crazy” with this new piece.
This second piece makes a great point about how writing in these times is a conversation, not a speech or a broadcast, which is the old-media model, and one that, in my experience, far too many people in so-called new media still live by.
The old model was: I write something, and maybe a few readers write me a letter in response, but what’s really happening here is that I, the writer, am broadcasting my views. When I finish writing, the process is over. Everything else is sort of like the applause or booing after a performance.
Today, the writer is just one participant in a conversation, and the written piece — or multimedia event or whatever it is — is one part of it. The comments and Twitter arguments and blog-post rebuttals and so on are not mere responses to the original piece, an audience applauding or booing. They’re all part of one organic whole.
Writers who get this, who engage in this type of back and forth with what press critic Jay Rosen refers to as the people formerly known as the audience, are giving those people a lot more than writers who don’t get it. And they’re getting more too. More engagement, more interesting dialog and likely more readers.
I still disagree with Strobl’s analysis of J.D. Drew, by the way. I’m thinking about writing a piece in response if I get time. If not, I’ll at least comment on his piece.
Don’t treat comments and tweets and Facebook or blog posts in response to what you write as afterthoughts or mere reaction. They’re as valuable as your piece, part of a conversation. We’re working on a web here, not a stage.