"Composing via online media involves these three phases, each of which brings with it different rhetorical factors and audience expectations that can vary from culture to culture. Effective global communication requires one to understand each stage to better address the rhetorical expectations cultures associate with each phase of this process."
-Kirk St. Amant
For me, the 3Cs represent three parts or phases in the overall communication process. As such, they involve making informed rhetorical choices at each phase to achieve the purpose of the overall composing process in international online contexts.
The first phase is contacting. After all, if you wish to present information to an audience, you first need to make contact with them. But that contact can't be random; it needs to be done with a rhetorical understanding of the audience one wishes to contact and the context in which that contact is made. Contacting, however, involves more than being able to access an individual at a given point in time—it's more than "Here is my composition for you to look at!" In actuality, it's a matter of getting your audience to initially recognize that what you have composed is worthy of attention or worth reading so the audience will look at it or pick it up. It also means you need to compose in such a way that once you have the audience's attention, you can maintain it so they'll keep reading what you've written. That requires rhetorical knowledge of the audience's expectations based on the given situation—knowing what will catch or keep their attention in relation to having them really read (vs. skim and not truly pay attention to) your composition. This is where cultural knowledge becomes important: What the members of one culture look for in terms of determining if they wish to pay attention to a composition might be different from another. The same is the case for what rhetorical factors hold a reader's attention; these are often culturally based and thus vary from culture to culture. As such, the first step to effectively composing in international online contexts is to realize and address such cultural rhetorical differences when contacting international audiences online.
"Contacting, however, involves more than being able to access an individual at a given point in time—it's more than "Here is my composition for you to look at!" In actuality, it's a matter of getting your audience to initially recognize that what you have composed is worthy of attention or worth reading so the audience will look at it or pick it up."
Once you have the audience's attention, the next step is conveying. That is, you have to present information in a way that the audience will consider it—really think about it and engage with it to the point they might act on it. Again, this is a matter of meeting rhetorical expectations of everything from what constitutes an effective argument to what constitutes a valid source of evidence to what represents a legitimate course of action readers can be asked to undertake in relation to the topics being discussed. The rhetorical aspects here are different from those associated with contacting, and again, they can vary from culture to culture. As such, to realize the potential online media hold for global exchanges and interactions, writers need to recognize and address such factors.
The third and final phase of this process is connecting, and it is about one's readers taking the next step and interacting with the author—or composing responses to what an author has written. It is at this stage that compositions turn from (relatively) static words on a page into a mechanism for interaction prompted by the desire to discuss ideas and perhaps go beyond the actions an author requests in a given composition. It is a situation in which the roles of author and audience are in constant flux as each composes for and reads the compositions of the other in a process that builds relationships—and even communities—via online writing.
For this final stage to be realized, one again needs to understand the related rhetorical context, which is different from the "contacting" and "conveying" phases. In this phase, the author needs to understand and appreciate the rhetorical expectations of other cultures from the perspective of individuals who might craft a response to what the author has written. The author should thus help the audience/reader understand the rhetorical expectations of the author's culture so the reader can compose responses that can lead to meaningful interactions with members of the original author's native culture.
Thus, composing via online media involves these three phases, each of which brings with it different rhetorical factors and audience expectations that can vary from culture to culture. While composing international based interactions can take place at any of these stages (i.e., presenting or sharing, considering or acting, responding or replying), effective global communication requires one to understand each stage to better address the rhetorical expectations cultures associate with each phase of this process.
For educators, the situation is a matter of teaching students the importance of these three phases, methods for understanding them, and approaches for addressing them in order to prepare students to communicate effectively via online media in international contexts. For researchers, this 3Cs approach provides the general or overarching areas in which research on culture and rhetorical expectations is needed to help us better understand communication preferences, patterns, and expectations in greater global contexts where online composition takes place.
—webtext & interview by Gustav Verhulsdonck 2017