Prewriting Assignment #1

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Prewriting Assignment #1

Post  Nick Jones on Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:07 am

My chosen webcomic is entitled "xkcd." It claims on its homepage to be "A Webcomic of Romance, Sarcasm, Math, and Language." This little description can tell us a lot before we even begin to read the comics themselves. You can infer that the subject matter will be intended for an audience that has a superior intellect, and will not make cheap jokes that appeal to the masses. Reading one or two of these only confirms this. It takes me about five minutes to get the joke, and sometimes it is just completely over my head. The comic does not concern itself with detailed illustration. It instead uses black and white stick figures and focuses on the humor. It gives off a very strait forward, like it or don't vibe, as evident by this warning: "Warning: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)." The webpage itself is also very plain and dull, which I think supports its appeal to math and science based professionals.

As I've hinted above, the audience is those who have strong backgrounds in higher math, programming, and physics. The types of people who read it would be engineers, astrologists,researchers in the fields of physics and math, and professors of these subjects. The dull nature fits in very well with the humdrum daily work of these people. It also serves to scare away anyone who doesn't belong in such a community. Looking at the quote, we can see a sort of contempt or annoyance that they have for others, such as those in a liberal arts field. It remains good natured, but at the same time unapologetic. I can see the audience of this comic as being very similar to the audience of "The Big Bang Theory." That is to say, the audience who watches it and actually understands it.

This group of people share a love for math and science that they can express and relate to other members through "xkcd." They value higher humor, humor that make you think and offers no cheap jokes about sex or farts. In a way, they almost seem to be elitists. The sister website, a blog, features post with statistical jokes and strong technical language. it is not only the content that is technical, it is also the structure. It definitely wasn't written by an english major, but rather by someone with a background in technical writing. The writer's name is Randall Munroe, a CNU graduate with physics degree and a background working at NASA. He is sarcastic, but at the same time likeable. This style rubs off in the forums. Most posts on the wide variety of topics jest at previous posters, and offer humor in and of themselves. However, there are several topics such as "Serious Business," "Math," and multiple other intellectual topics which remain serious and argumentative, sometimes even getting heated in the process. This is fairly typical of any forum though.

The best way to describe how "xkcd" works with its audience is "well." Munroe has a firm understanding of what minds similar to his enjoy and find funny, and he owns it. He listens to what they have to say, taking emails for suggestions on improvements, as well as giving advice to any who may need it. He is also very driven to produce the best possible product, with no award to himself except for the satisfaction of a job well done. He openly lets people share his work, be it via email or in publications. The audience and the writer share a mutual respect and a relationship that the general population will never be able to comprehend.

Nick Jones
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