Active readers and writers of the web. Particularly ones frustrated by context collapse and the proliferation of generic articles that try to accommodate every possible audience online
Readers are a problem for every writer. Writers have to write for a specific person. That specific person is almost always imaginary. Anytime you put writing in public, posted somewhere a vast range of people might happen upon it, imagining the reader becomes an exercise in desperate speculation.
Who is truly reading this? I haven't a clue.
All I can do is guess. I have to assume things about you. Assumptions I make based on the other people in my Twitter neighbourhood and extended gardening network.
If I assume incorrectly, I'll lose you in the middle of a sentence – either because I'll assume you know more than you do, or drown you in unfamiliar words and alienating jargon. Or I'll assume too little and bore you with basic, repetitive definitions of things you personally helped invent.
If I don't make clear who I'm writing for, and you don't know who should be reading this, we're far more likely to end up in an unsatisfying reader/writer mismatch.
At the beginning of many of my posts, I have a small informational box that tells you my assumed audience – who I think I'm writing this piece for.
A few examples to illustrate the point:
People who understand the basic historical arc of postmodernism, post-postmodernism, the rationalist movement, and the post-rationalists. Would describe yourself as Very Online.
These small boxes free both of us of unspoken obligations and expectations. As the writer, I am now free to write for an informed audience without defining every term and qualifying every statement. We can jump straight to the gritty details and contentious debates rather than doing a full literature review of the field.
You still might not have a clue what I'm talking about, but you were forewarned. You have chosen to venture into this article as a bemused voyeur – willing to sacrifice comprehension to feed your curiosity.
In the same way you might eavesdrop on a conversation between two Dev Ops engineers vehemently fighting over the practicality of Kubernetes. None of us knows what they're saying, but the jargon is to die for.