Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Framing

Internet phenomena fascinate me. I certainly don't study them, and the general study of such phenomena (and the consequent understanding that would come) might well avail me, but it's not really my bag. I'm more interested in thinking through ideas related to writing and communication and how to do it.

One thing that I notice in internet phenomena, especially internet searches is how quickly things come to be taken out of context, or how the context gets lost.

For example, there is a page on the site Technorati that
presents the matter of my blog in an odd way. While it does basically represent what is going on in my blog, context is lost. Look, in particular, at the section "what this blog is about", which uses the labels of my posts to create a display of topics. The four topics that dominate the list are consistency, emotions, practice, sense of purpose. And I do talk about those often. The problem is that what is completely lost is the framing I provide at the top of my blog: "Seeking insightful perspectives on writing, dissertations, and projects in general." I talk about consistency, etc., but in the context of writing. I'm not writing about emotions; I'm writing about the role that emotions play in writing.

This notion of maintaining the framing is a good one for writers to keep in mind. When presenting a long and detailed exposition to readers, it behooves the writer to make sure that the framing is well done, so that the reader understands and can readily remember why the details are being discussed.
But having once framed something in the context of your main topic, you do not need to talk about your main topic explicitly. After all, we want to assume that our readers are not idiots and they can remember our basic purpose.

The framing is crucial: without it, our meaning is lost on the reader.
The framing is set by your sense of purpose: your sense of purpose is what sets your focus, and it is that focus which determines the scope and direction of the work.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

"When presenting a long and detailed exposition to readers, it behooves the writer to make sure that the framing is well done, so that the reader understands and can readily remember why the details are being discussed.
But having once framed something in the context of your main topic, you do not need to talk about your main topic explicitly. After all, we want to assume that our readers are not idiots and they can remember our basic purpose."


Ok I'm still here avoiding the rabbit holes of defintions, history and background and I find the posting on framing extremely important at this time. I'm looking back at my text and thinking to myself "I have 9 pages of revised single spaced text (with several more to follow) and no where in here do I feel I have shared with my reader why this long digression in detail is important."

When should we tell the readers about our framing? How often do we need to remind them of it? What are some graceful and tactful ways of doing this without it feeling out of place?