this isn’t writing, it’s typing*

I’ve been reading quite a bit lately about writing on the Web. Or perhaps I should say “writing” on the Web. I suppose since Gutenberg‘s press set the stage for mass production the masses have argued about whether technology enables talent and engenders understanding or elevates mediocrity and numbs the mind.

When I was a youngster, it was unusual to find a kid who liked to write. I was one of those oddball kids, and so I spent years in school writing for a purpose, for an audience … for a grade. Then I grew up (?) and became a journalist. This time I wrote for a purpose, for an audience … for a paycheck. And now I write for me. (Okay, for you, too, but understand, please, that you are secondary to my own enjoyment.) Today it is not so difficult to find a young person who enjoys writing. He may roll his eyes at a class writing assignment aimed at an imaginary audience or, worse, no audience at all; however, he may have an active blog that is read by dozens or thousands. She may communicate her thoughts daily in FaceBook. They both have many more opportunities for textual communication than I had just 20 years ago, and they are using it daily. I think the question that remains for instructors is how to harness that desire to communicate in written form and exploit it through meaningful assignments. Of course, the challenge is how to help students understand the difference between typing and writing. But, as a former high school English teacher (is there anything I haven’t done?), I’m just going to tell you flat out that the Web did not invent that problem. The Web does, though, provide a platform for anyone and everyone, which brings me back to why I started this blog entry in the first place.

What hath the Web wrought for writers? For instructors? For readers? What has it done for – or to – communication? There are some interesting notes in “Is the Net Good for Writers?”  What do you think?

I’ll throw in a link to an earlier blog entry of mine (another blog, another time) that I wrote for a former employer. It’s titled confused or amused? and it addresses whether people are (or should be) smart enough to read or view Web matter in a discriminating manner.

*Case Western Reserve University uses Truman Capote’s insult as an introduction to a Web site that provides writing tips for students: http://studentaffairs.case.edu/education/resources/sagesguide/.

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