Writing in and for Digital Environments
October 23, 2014
Engaging the Digital World
Digital writing has become an important asset in our society throughout the last decade. With texting, blogging, and social networks, people are now taking their writing to the digital world more than ever. As time passes and technology improves, the importance of digital writing will continue to increase among upcoming generations whether it is in the classroom or communicating over the Internet. Throughout this piece, I will explore five articles concerning the importance of digital writing and define what digital writing is and why it is a crucial part of our society. Digital writing is becoming a crucial skill in our society and social media has played a huge role in shaping our world into what it has become today.
Why does digital writing matter? It matters because young people are digitally writing more than ever whether it is through texting, blogging, or using their social media accounts. In order to succeed in our fast-paced, information-rich world, students are faced with learning new literacies to succeed; yet schools have not caught up with the digital reality that students live in daily. (National Writing Project) In a book written by Danielle Nicole DeVoss, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, and Troy Hicks, Because Digital Writing Matters, the authors look at what educators, parents, and policymakers can do to help schools meet the challenges of new digital literacies and to equip students with the technology-related communication skills they need to thrive in school and in the global workplace. The book also gives three major points on the benefits from digital writing. The first major point is digital writing is more than just a skill; it is a means of interacting with ideas and with the world, a mode of thinking and expressing in all grades and disciplines. The second major point is digital writing can help students develop critical thinking skills and support learning across all subject areas. The final point made emphasizes that educators, community members, and policymakers must work together to promote technology developments in schools to create learning environments that support digital literacy. The authors stress that writing in classrooms will need to embrace tools, strategies, and skills beyond those that traditional classrooms required in their students writing. Educators have successfully used digital writing to enhance the writing abilities and experiences of their students at all grade levels. (National Writing Project)
In an article written by Jeff Grabill, a professor at Michigan State University, he emphasizes the importance of digital writing in education and in life. First, Grabill puts an emphasis on writing in general. He claims that writing is a key language skill and also supports learning in other content areas and written expression shapes success for individuals and groups. However, there has been a lack of attention of writing in school, which is a cause of concern because those who cannot write and communicate clearly will have difficulty landing a job or little chance of promotion in their occupation.
Following the first part of Grabill’s piece, he writes about the “digital” in digital writing. He claims that the biggest difference between ordinary writing and digital writing is the culture of the writing. Digital writing is networked and often deeply collaborative or coordinated. Digital technologies also have made it easy to “write” in all sorts of new ways by using more modes and resources, such as image, sound and video. We can use the work of another individual, with or without their permission, and form a work of our own. (Grabill)
Social media has become a huge part of our society, which has transformed the way people communicate and stay in touch with past friends. In a piece written by Lindsay Patton –Carson, Why Social Media is Important for Your Personal and Professional Life, she explains how social media sites changed the way we interact with each other. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Vine, etc. make it simple to stay connected in people’s lives. These sites allow users to share details about their daily lives through pictures, videos, and statues. Also, sites like twitter allow people to network with others, which can be done using hash tags because it shows what people are talking about.
However, Patton-Carson explains that social media can be used for more than just someone’s personal life. She claims that when it comes to someone’s occupation, it is important to be on as many social media sites as possible. Social media sites offer different ways to share important information. The more sites someone’s business is on, the more eyes will see it and possibly be interested. That being said, Patton-Carson describes the different benefits to different sites, such as Facebook. She claims that Facebook allows users to get to know the business more intimately. The key to being successful on Facebook is the interaction with the viewers of the business page. The more a business reacts with the “likers” of their Facebook page; people are more likely to talk about the business with others, which is how people get noticed. (Patton-Carson)
Lindsay Patton-Carson ends her piece with talking about getting someone’s name out professionally. Social media is important in the times of job searching. Managers that are hiring often search online for candidates, so it is vital to make a solid impression. The newly found LinkedIn has come to be the best site for someone to network and connect with professionals, as it is the largest professional network in the world.
In an article written by Leigh Wright, Tweet Me a Story, she talks about how she uses social media, especially twitter, to help improve her students writing. Using social media teaches her students how to write concisely, how to think quickly, and how to form their own social media conversation. This is done by weaving it with their words and crafting a social media story on a digital platform. (Wright) How does twitter do all this? When posting something on Twitter, you are only allowed one hundred forty characters, which requires students to write concisely and think quickly. As a journalism professor, Wright put her students through a series of tweeting exercises that taught the students how to concisely use Twitter and especially the hash tag.
However, when writing digitally, the entire world has access to everything that is published. In a small piece by Linda Flower, Writing for an Audience, she claims that the goal of a writer should be to “create a momentary common ground between the reader and the writer.” When a reader sees the work of the writer digitally, the reader should want to share the knowledge and the writer’s attitude towards that knowledge. Flower claims that there are three assets a writer needs to incorporate into their writing. First they need to establish knowledge by showing what the main ideas are and providing enough background information for the reader to comprehend the topic. The second asset is presenting an attitude. This means the writer needs to fully inform their reader on their position on a particular topic. The third and final aspect of writing for an audience is identifying the readers needs. When a writer is writing a piece, they need to apply their knowledge to the writers needs, meaning the writer presenting his knowledge so the reader can reach his needs while reading the piece. (Flower)
As a college student at a small liberal arts college, Dickinson College, I have received an education I could not have even imagined four years ago as I sat in a fairly large public high school. However, how could I make my experience here at Dickinson College better? I have taken classes in political science and have engaged in the world of politics, but I still feel like something is missing. I sit in classrooms with about thirty other students in most of my classes, but never know what most of them are thinking. Political science is a major that offers a wide variety of complex and controversial ideas. However, in class, it is difficult to get a conversation going on topics at times. That being said, digital writing can help that and get the conversation flowing outside of the classroom. Ways of expanding the conversation include utilizing social media, especially Twitter. Twitter is a powerful form of social media because everyone around the world can see someone’s tweets, which is what makes it so exciting. My recommendation for professors is to use social media more often and include their students to do so as well. As I stated before, the digital world connects people with the world and what the rest of the world is thinking. It is an unbelievable tool for professors to use and I wish they would do so more often.
An aspect that is often overlooked about the digital world is what it can do for someone in the business world. Lindsay Patton-Carson expressed in her piece how the digital world helps people network and receive job offers. Over the summer, I interned in Washington D.C. inside the capital building of the United States. The experience is something I will never forget and I probably would have never received the opportunity if it were not for social media. I went to high school with someone who currently works for my congressman and he reached out to me after I posted a status asking of any possible internship opportunities were available. However, he was not the only person to get back to me. I received at least three other requests for my application based off my “friends” on Facebook.
During my internship, I helped run a bunch of errands, but I was also responsible for helping with the Facebook and Twitter pages. I would never post anything, because who would trust an intern with such a pressure filled task, but I would be responsible for keeping up with the responses from the post. Many congressmen use their social media accounts to update constituents on his or her plans or location in the district. They also love to use social media to get feedback on a wide variety of issues. As you could imagine, some of the responses are not so great and some are pretty encouraging. That being said, it simply helps the congressman stay in touch with his constituents from his office in the United States capital. It is important that he always knows how his constituents feel on particular issues.
Digital writing is getting more important and popular every year. Every year some new form of social media is created and it only creates another way for people to connect with the rest of the world. Whether it is trying to find a job or simply trying to engage in conversation, digital writing is changing the way people interact with each other because we are always connected with one another. Especially within the last eight years, due to the production of smartphones. Some may believe this is actually a bad thing because it makes us unproductive, but nothing is more productive than sharing ideas with the rest of the world. Digital writing is becoming a crucial skill in our society and social media has played a huge role in shaping our world into what it has become today.
Flower, Linda. “Writing for an Audience.” Language Awareness: Readings for College. Ed. by Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa, and Virginia Clark. 8th ed. Boston:Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000: 139-141.
Patton-Carson, Lindsay. “Why Social Media Is Important for Your Personal and Professional Life.” Udemy Blog. 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.
“National Writing Project.” What Is Digital Writing and Why Does It Matter? –. National Writing Project, 25 Oct. 2010. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.
Leigh Wright, “Tweet Me A Story,” in Web Writing: Why and How for Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning, ed. Jack Dougherty and Tennyson O’Donnell (University of Michigan Press/Trinity College ePress edition, 2014).