Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Engagement in a Time of Polarization / Thinking on Engagement

During our conversation in Engagement in a Time of Polarization, an open MOOC, we discussed a wide range of ideas in defining what engagement might be through this discourse. I think the hardest part of the discussion for me is who we are engaging - someone in a political discourse, someone in a classroom, someone in an electronic group? Engagement can be a complex, confusing issue because there is the user and how they engage and the group, class, or political group that measures the engagement. I see it like the reader to the writer -- or the reader to the text they are reading. Engagement is important to a book, but the book doesn’t measure its impact. However, the publisher measures its sales and promotion as to the success of the book.

When you consider the measurable ways to follow print readers, book people use the concept of "circulation" and "readership". It is suggested that readership is larger than circulation because of "pass-on" readers. But, we also know that print media and electronic media move differently. Page views don't mean readership, it just means page displayed on a screen. It isn't until you measure how long people were on the page that we can even define what they were doing there (and often that is not clear). 

Does engagement work that way? If we buy the book and don't read it, perhaps we are passive in the act of engagement. If we buy the book and are moved by the story (still passive?), then we've engaged the story and we have accumulated the reading experience (as interpreted through my own experience). Now, I am ready to go to a book club, teach the book, or quote that in my own writing experience. Now, I am potentially active until I unleash my ideas of the book on the book club, classroom, or article. Is there a basic threshold from passive to active engagement? 

During our discussion Elizabeth St. Clair in our discussion commented, “I think the work you put in, whether you do it with your hands, head, or heart is worthy of being considered participatory.” I think this is a really interesting place to start in terms of being engaged and what that means. And all of the book comparisons above serve in the realm of participatory - but move across a vision of passive and active engagement. 


Post a Comment