You know the world has changed when a baby’s first word is more likely to be iPad or cellphone over the more common introductory words of mama or daddy, crazy right? The society we now live in, no longer resembles the society our parents once knew. Babies no longer reach for rattles instead they amaze us with their astounding ability to work a cellular device before they even learn how to talk or walk. The digitally smart baby is only the beginning of the impact of the digitized era.
The Digital Takeover
Think about the last time you read an article or a novel? Now, think of the platform that you chose to access those texts. Personally, if you are like me you access these forms of text digitally. This could be reading the New York Times online, reading your favorite novel through iBook or simply using academic online libraries to find a source for your paper. No matter what it is you are doing, you are somehow using a form of technology to achieve your goal. Technology, however has its negative and positive implications. Some view the takeover of technology as a negative issue, for instance the authors Vivek Wadhwa and Alex Salkever discuss their feelings of angst towards technology in their book The Driver in The Driverless Car: How our Technology Choices Will Create the Future. They argue that “Increasingly pervasive data networks and connected devices are enabling rapid communication and processing of information, ushering in unprecedented shift—in everything from biology, energy, and media to politics, food, and transportation that are redefining our future. Naturally we’re uneasy; we should be” (xi). They believe that the increase and evolution of technology has taken over our ability to have proper control over our lives. Despite their concern about the risk of the future of technology the authors both acknowledge the benefits of the future of technology and are actually excited about the prospects of technologies continuous evolution. One of the particular benefits of technology they discuss is the prospect of the enhancement of education. The authors see the future of technology advancing with artificial intelligence, a one-on-one interaction with your very own personal avatar. However, I want to discuss the current way we have already begun to integrate technology with education.
For us as students’ technology has become the most prominent way we access and utilize information especially. Typically, we are accessing the digital world as a means of being social. Social media sites have become the key connection for us to keep in touch with our college friends, keep abreast of pop culture or check out what our favorite celebrities are doing. On the other hand, using technology for academic purposes has also become widespread. This can be seen through the medium of digital writing.
What is Digital Writing?
If we ask the President what digital writing was, he would probably pull up a list of his infamous tweets on American domestic policy and foreign policy and say here it is. Digital writing the ability to say the important stuff in only 140 characters, name a leader of a free world who could give you a better example.
While Trump would not be wrong to consider his “masterful tweets” pieces of digital writing art, they are in fact some form of digital writing. For the purpose of this blog post’s though will focus on more academic sources to explain digital writing and its usefulness. In the article Digital Writing Uprising: Third-Order Thinking in The Digital Humanities the author Sean Morris talks about digital writing as a rebellion against the norm because digital writing has aspects that it does not share with written word. That aspect is what Morris refers to as communal writing, for him and other scholars digital writing is a shared experience with a group of individuals. “As our writing practices become more and more digital, we discover that immense collaboration is possible and we create meaningful networks using social media tools that help us control that collaboration, monitor it and make it purposeful.” When we are writing digitally we are not writing alone or for ourselves. We know that once your writing hits the digital world that many people can contribute their opinion whether negative or positive to your writing. This can then affect how you choose to write your next article. This point also relates to the main points in Jen Rajchel’s article Consider the Audience. Rajchel argues that one of the most difficult parts of web writing is the audience. When we write our digital pieces of work, we are writing it with the people who are going to read it in mind. Rajchel says “we manage the circulation through various social platforms and code-switch for several interested parties.” In order to keep your audience interested you have to switch up the way in which you engage with them through your writing. This could be through the tone you use in your writing or making your writing more multimodal so that readers can stay engaged.
Digital writing has been a transformative experience. I think that many students would also appreciate the ability to catch a break from writing mundane academic papers and try their hand at a new form of writing; digital writing that is. As young adults we are always on social media and have been introduced to technology from a young age, but we only really utilize technology in this aspect. In Shelbie Witte’s article That’s Online Writing, Not Boring School Writing”: Writing with Blogs and the Talkback Project she introduces a short anecdote about a student who was not doing well in her English classes, and during parent-teacher conference found out from the perplexed parents that the student would go home and spend hours at night writing short stories and poems. The student’s explanation was that “it was online writing, not boring school writing”. This eight-grade student is voicing what some of us college students might be afraid to convey.
Witte who could not understand why her student could not write a short passage in her journal, but go home and write an essay decided to do her research and switch up her curriculum. She introduced her students to the world of blogging as a different form of academic writing and the rest was history. Witte believed that “by combing writing with online technology, teachers can provide opportunities for students and future educators to develop their digital fluency while also strengthening their traditional literacy skills.” With her introduction of a blog project in the classrooms she proved her argument. Digital writing can be a tool to engage students in the classroom and help us improve with our academic writing.
The Digital World’s Impact on Me
This past summer, right before I came back to school my Mac laptop just completely stopped working with no interference from me. The first thing I did when I discovered this was cry my eyes out, panicking about what I would use at school. When I tell you, I search up every ask forum, article on computers and those how-to YouTube videos to revive my computer, I am not exaggerating. In fact, it might be an understatement.
I think that I blame these sites for my inability to fix my computer, they used super technical terms that I could not define even when presented with the definition. The writers of these articles, blog posts and forums did not completely stop to think about the average audience who would be tuning in for help with their computers. That is why when I think about what classes on digital writing offers students, the first thing that comes to mind is the opportunity to expand your writing skills for a wider audience.
Typically, when you are a student in college or in high school the papers you write are for one person, you always know your audience is going to be your teacher or professor. This is not the case for the digital world. In the digital world you can have a various group of people who might be interested in what you are speaking of, the only time you truly know who your audience is, is when you get the opportunity to engage with them. This could be through comments or response blog posts. When you are writing in the digital space you must tailor the things you post, your blog layout, and other aspects that make up your blog, to appeal to your audience.
As a student here at Dickinson, I am used to writing academic papers for all my classes. I think that digital writing can help improve the way I write my academic papers because it allows you to find your voice. When you are a writing your blog post, you rely on your thoughts and opinions. You may draw on other people’s thoughts but you still end up internalizing those thoughts and analyzing it in your own voice. I think that when I am writing academic papers I get too focused on trying to make this paper sound as intellectual as possible and lose a bit of my actual voice when writing. When I am writing blog posts you get to find a balance, because even though you are not specifically targeting an academic audience, you still want your blog to make sense and have a voice of authority.
Here at Dickinson, I am a Law & Policy major. A big part of my writing for Law & Policy has been having to analyzing cases and then think about my opinion of those cases, analyzing them through that lens. This part of my writing for my major feels similar to what we have doing with the blog project. Instead of analyzing cases we have chosen a topic of our choice to analyze and then write about what we think about them. For my blog project I have chosen to write about my senior year. I chose this subject because everyone has different opinions on your senior year of college is supposed to go and I decided that maybe my experience differed from some but others could possibly relate and a communal community we could share the senior year experience. For this project I highlight the most important aspects of senior year and then use my personal voice to express how I’m feeling about the pressure of employment search, my nervousness towards graduation or my sadness concerning leaving my friends. Blogging has given me a new outlook on writing, because when you get to write from your perspective it becomes less of hassle and more of something to look forward to.
According to the article From Written to Digital: The New Literacy by Phillip Ventimiglia and George Pullman the authors discuss how important integrating digital writing into education is because of future employment benefits. They say that “students can be more successful after graduation if they are digitally literate—having learned how to identify and create digital solutions, adapt to new tools, discover more effective and efficient way of doing things in their fields.” After graduation I want to gain work experience before I start applying to law school or graduate school. One of the career fields that I am most interested in, is a career path in public relations. I believe that taking this class on digital writing would be beneficial to a public relations job because you might have to write an article in magazine on person, or a press release. I think this class has been beneficial for those skills because they will not be like academic papers, and generally would be digital writing pieces. Another important public relation skill to have would be to have creativity and I think that is one of the key things that I have learned so far in this digital writing class. Having to come up with interesting and appealing blog ideas and blog posts focuses on building up your creativity skills. I see myself using digital writing in this career field a lot, and possibly in other future careers as well. However, I’ll probably never have as good as grasp on technology as this baby MTS Internet Baby.
Rajchel, Jen. “Consider the Audience.” Edited by Jack Dougherty and Tennyson O’Donnell, Web Writing Why and How for Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning Consider the Audience Comments, University of Michigan Press, 4 Mar. 2015, epress.trincoll.edu/webwriting/chapter/rajchel/.
Morris, Sean. “Digital Writing Uprising: Third-Order Thinking in the Digital Humanities.” Hybrid Pedagogy, 8 Oct. 2012, www.digitalpedagogylab.com/hybridped/digital-writing-uprising-third-order-thinking-in-the-digital-humanities/.
Ventimiglia , Phillip , and George Pullman. “From Written to Digital: The New Literacy.” Why it Matter to Higher Education: Educause Review, 7 Mar. 2016, er.educause.edu/articles/2016/3/from-written-to-digital-the-new-literacy.
Wadhwa, Vivek, and Alex Salkever. The driver in the driverless car: how our technology choices will create the future. BK Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2017.
Witte, Shelbie. ““That’s Online Writing, Not Boring School Writing”: Writing With Blogs and the Talkback Project.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, vol. 51, no. 2, Oct. 2007, pp. 92–96., doi:10.1598/jaal.51.2.1.
October 24, 2017
Professor Sarah Kersh
Does Digital Writing Matter?
In 1981, the first IBM PC was introduced to the public. In 1989, the world wide web was created. In 1992 a 22-year-old sent the first text message to wish someone a “Merry Christmas.” And in 1997, Nokia became the first manufacturer to produce a cell phone with a full keyboard. All these inventions would soon launch a world of technology and introduce the world to digital writing.
Writing itself has been around for quite some time. So, what exactly is “digital writing?” What makes Digital writing so different? Digital writing is the creation of the internet and technology and all that those things encompass. When I say encompass I am talking about all that technology and the internet offer. Some of their offerings include hypermedia. Hypermedia “includes graphics, audio, video, plain text and hyperlinks” (Diagostino 96). Hypermedia is what I would argue makes digital writing because it has advanced and become widely available. It has created a world where the web is “not just communication but for interaction.” (Diagostino 97).
That is what digital writing is all about. It is a world where writing is done to connect and interact with others. We see digital writing everywhere from text messaging, blogs, social media and so much more. It has quickly become popular and a part of our daily lives because of this reason. But, everything apart of our lives is not necessarily important or good. Does digital writing even matter?
Digital writing comes with its pros and cons. As stated before digital writing does a great job at helping people form connections with one another and interact daily. However, digital writing also does a great job at keeping people less engaged.
To start off, Digital has helped us form connections and interact with one another daily. Through text messaging, comment sections, blogs, and more, people can be far away from others and still connect and communicate. “The Driver in the Driverless Car” notes that technology and digital writing “are enabling rapid communication and processing of information, ushering in unprecedented shifts—in everything from biology, energy, and media to politics, food, and transportation” (Wadhwa, Salkever 11). Digital writing is advancing our society one blog, one message, at a time. Digital writing has impacted every field and will continue to do so. It is embedded in our society. It is how we communicate.
Although digital writing brings people together, it also distracts us. This can be said for technology in general. However, when digital writing includes hypertext, graphics, pictures, and occurs on social platforms that are easily linked to other social platforms by a click these things distract us on a whole new level. If you were to observe any blog, you are most likely to see multiple ads on the side that cater to your interest. These things easily disturb people from taking part in what they are using digital writing for, to begin with. This is especially the case when reading and or writing blogs. We no longer pay attention while reading and writing digitally Dagostino says, “For anyone who imagined that computers would make writing easier, the irony is that by making a host of individual tasks easier, computers have dramatically expanded options for writers and probably have made writing, and learning to write, more complex” (Diagostino 100). Because so many things are accessible to digital writers they cannot focus as much when writing. In ” Writing Resilience in the Digital Age” Wilkins admits that some of the writers she surveyed said that they could not focus. One writer admitted”‘Facebook. I am addicted to the “room full of people” it presents’;‘I GET SO DISTRACTED’” (Wilkins 72). Diagostino points out, “The nature of reading for online platforms is actually “scanning,” described as looking at words, headings or sections of pages, often out of order, focusing on only some of the words and skipping the rest” (Diagostino 97). Ultimately people of the digital writing age have become lazier and less attentive.
Even so, digital writers are still engaged in writing regardless of how lazy they have become. “In defense of writing: a social semiotic
perspective on digital media, literacy and
learning” argues that digital writers are still very much creative. It states, “To sum up, we can say that the study shows that digital media open up two simultaneous possibilities for pupils. Firstly, the possibility of creating a more advanced (multimodal) text and secondly, the possibility of creating this text with less semiotic work than before.” (“ In Defense”5). So, although digital writing may hinder readers and writers throughout the process of writing, it does not hinder the end goal of successfully reading or writing digitally. Digital writing is still done well.
Some may automatically conclude that while digital writing can produce so many benefits it does not matter since it produces a wide range of negatives. Digital writing has made us lazier and distracted. So much so, that we cannot even engage in digital writing or reading digital writing to the best of our ability. However, digital writing still matters in our society today.
When discussing the effects of technology, “The Shallows” argues that it is not the technology that matters but “how we use it that matters…we’re in control” ( Carr 3). I think the same thing for digital writing. Digital writing is being used in a beautiful way. It connects us all globally. It keeps us informed. It helps us act in cohesiveness. That outweighs the negatives.
Digital writing is embedded in our society today. It has become our main form of communication. It is how we interact with one another. It has become a part of everything we do. It is how we tell our stories, how we find love, how we educate ourselves, how we find jobs, how we learn needed skills for our jobs. Some may argue that digital writing is not like traditional writing. I would agree with that. However, that is purposeful. As beautiful as traditional writing is, it did not and does not have the power of digital writing. Digital writing transcends. Digital writing is this generations form of traditional writing but in a more expansive way. For those who are against digital writing and technology overall, they may need to step aside. Because digital writing is here to stay and will continue to have a global impact on our society by constantly connecting us through many fields.
Part 2: The Benefit of Digital Writing Classes
Since Digital Writing is here to stay, many classes are being offered for people to deal learn it hands on. Classes about the digital writing can offer many things.Speaking from personal experience, one thing I noticed it has helped me gain is an appreciation for writing overall. When I think of writing, I think of my English classes in high school and critically acclaimed books. I think of prestige. Proper grammar, citations, the whole nine. However, none of these things come to mind when I think of digital writing. When I think of digital writing I think of the comments section in any blog, blogs, and Instagram. Basically, I think of informality. At least, these were my thoughts in the beginning.
I believe most people think these things when they think of digital writing as well. I’m sure they hold digital writing and non-digital writing at different standards and ranks. This is mostly due to a lack of memory of how much digital wiring is a part of everyday life. We use digital writing to write our magazines, scholarly journals, standardized test, and even books. So, why do we equate digital writing to comment sections and Instagram? I think this is because digital writing has become such a common thing, especially within more informal platforms.
We are so used to being able to scroll through Instagram for brief descriptions of the daily news and leaving abbreviated comments under pictures and blogs. Because of this, we tend to think of digital writing as being informal. Yes, digital writing can be more informal on certain platforms. But, this does not make it less prestigious as other writing.
This belief is a bad thing to think about digital writing. It is one of the reasons why trolls exist. People go on the internet believing they can post any and everything. They think they can say whatever they want regardless of how hurtful it is because this is one of the spaces that digital writing has created. However, being in digital writing has re-taught me how prestigious it is and all the benefits that come with it.
Digital writing has helped me to commit to developing a major project. On most digital environments such as Instagram, it is easy to observe multiple topics at once. There is no commitment is staying on one person’s page. However, with a blog, a central theme needs to be developed as well as the material included in the blog. The material of your blog must be centered based on your blog’s theme.
Digital writing also teaches you how to be creative. It is easy to stick to the same methods of producing information when there is only one essential theme. However, by developing a blog and bettering one’s creative writing, you learn how to present information in different ways. You learn how to entertain your audience in various ways. You have to. With a world wide web out there that has a variety of writers who can engage their readers through gifs and charming speech, digital writers have to be one step ahead within their creativity.
Digital writing also helps you create and find your own voice. Digital writing helps you to develop a perfect balance of writing informally and formally. As a law and policy and educational studies double major on campus, it can be easy to get stuck into those train of thoughts. Sometimes you can forget what else makes you a real person. You tend to forget all the things that make you unique. You forget what other things you can bring to the table. Having to create my blog has helped me get back in touch with these things. I had to take a deeper look into what entertained me and how I was going to use all those things to entertain my readers as well. I had to take a deeper look into how I show readers who I was without talking to them one on one as I do in all of my classes. Digital Writing allowed me to tap into who I am as a person and to find my voice.
Carr, Nicholas. “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.” 9780393339758: Medicine & Health Science Books @ Amazon.com, W.W Norton and Company.
Dagostino, Lorraine and Christine Casatelli. “Content Creation for a New Generation: A Guide for Digital Writing.” New England Reading Association Journal, vol. 52, no. 1, Jan. 2017, pp. 94-105. EBSCOhost, envoy.dickinson.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eft&AN=123510083&site=eds-live&scope=site.
“The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future 1st Edition.” The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future: Vivek Wadhwa, Alex Salkever:
“In Defence of Writing: A Social Semiotic Perspective on Digital Media, Literacy and Learning.” LITERACY, vol. 43, no. 1, n.d., pp. 36-42. EBSCOhost, envoy.dickinson.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edswss&AN=000207997700006&site=eds-live&scope=site.
“ When was the first computer invented”, Computerhope.com, Computerhope, 30 October 2017, Web, 31 October 2017.
Wilkins, Kim. “Writing Resilience in the Digital Age.” New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice & Theory of Creative Writing, vol. 11, no. 1, Jan. 2014, pp. 67-76. EBSCOhost, envoy.dickinson.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lfh&AN=94661997&site=eds-live&scope=site
Did you know that the average American spends more than 10 hours a day behind a screen consuming media? In fact, it is estimated that we will increase the hours behind a screen and access additional devices in the future. During this time behind screens we are inundated with digital writing. The influence of digital writing is bound to affect our lives in many ways. Since were all students at Dickinson I would like to focus on the impact that digital media has on our consumption of information. In this essay, I am going to explain how digital writing influences our lives as students for the better. Digital writing enables the addition of multimodal writing which gives allows for more depth in reader understanding, more efficient consumption, and easier access for different learning styles and makes it easier to judge the credibility of information.
But first let me explain what digital writing is. Digital writing is essentially the writing practices in a digital space. This can include social media, Buzzfeed articles, and even online journals and scholarly work. It is nearly impossible for us to escape digital writing in today’s society. Since we are engulfed in this media we should get to learn more about the positive ways digital media can help our lives especially in terms of school work.
Digital writing is perfect marriage with multimodal content. A multimodal approach is the combination of elements like sound, images, pictures, graphs, and other media. The multimodal approach to writing can make writing more efficient and add additional depth and ways to understand an article.
As students, we are often trying to get the most information in as little time as possible. Multimodality writing can allow our information gathering process to go quicker. For some students, it is easier to quickly understand a well-designed image, video, or soundbite which is added alongside the text. The addition of a short video can save the author and us as readers a lot of time. While multimodal writing was present before the digital era multimodal media has come to dominate students’ textual landscapes. Multimodal writing allows us to see exactly what the authors argument or goal is. “writers negotiate meaning-making opportunities with operating discourses in contexts of situation and culture of text production. “ (Rowley)
Multimodal writing allows readers to seek more depth in articles. A tool many authors use are hyperlinks, which allows the reader to follow a link that the author selected to provide background information. Hyperlinks allow us as readers to not only understand certain terminology but to be able to see exactly the knowledge the author would like us to have on this topic. These tools can also be used to broaden our connection with the text. Jen Rajchel in “Why and How For Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning” explains how multimodal writing allowed her to view poems in a completely different way by clicking on each hyperlink available in poems. This allowed for visualization of the allusions represented also in textual form. She also mentions how through digital writing citations and footnotes allowed for a path of discussion.
Multimodal writing can be very beneficial for our everyday use of gathering information as a student. While it can be a helpful tool we need to have multimedia literacy in order to use multimodal writing effectively. Richard Lanham says, “Multimedia literacy requires that we be very quick on our feet in moving from one kind of knowledge to another.” Lanham also describes how authors need to be able to express themselves in a media that the audience finds easiest to understand. This is important because not only can the authors tailor their media to one style but also students can find articles that use certain media styles also. We all have different brains and these styles can help us be more efficient by using our strengths instead of being forced into consuming writing or media only in one way.
Students need to be especially concerned about the credibility of information, whether writing an academic paper or exploring information about medical treatments, political matters, and many other serious matters. Fortunately, it becomes easier over time to judge the credibility of information for digital content. While the digital platform has led to a “.. staggering volume and speed with which information is presented and the sophisticated ways in which facts and figures are represented make it practically impossible for an average adult to single-handedly judge accuracy and credibility without guidance.” (Abilock, 70) Readers who have grown up with digital writing are adapting to the new information sources and able to judge credibility easier. As Abilock describes, “youth are less trusting than their elders of sites that host their information.”
“We tend to treat print as a determinate of information quality.” (Abilock, 73) These books, journals, newspapers, and other publications have typically gone through an rigorous review process by editors or peer review. Digital writing and multimodal writing are delivered on platforms that enable tools for readers to better evaluate the credibility of the information.
Fortunately, the digital environment enables tools that for readers to assess the credibility of information. In the digital environment, it easier to check citations and reading what other sources are saying about the issue. It is easier to access reader feedback and ratings on digital content. (Lim)
When was the last day you spent without your phone? I feel almost naked without my cell phone. As students and young adults, we encounter digital writing nearly every day. Since we are exposed to this form of media it is important to understand digital writing well enough to make the most out of this resource. I believe learning about digital writing helps students out in research, their major, and future endeavors.
I am an economics major here at Dickinson College. Generally, for my economics papers an economic issue is presented and I’m asked to explain why an action is going to help or hurt this issue. After reading about what makes good digital writing I believe that many of these same concepts can apply to my writing in economics. Carroll in “On Writing Well”, lists several principles of good digital writing that I believe are important aspects of my essay in economics. Being precise, being aware, and being concise are examples of these principles that fit with our writing style in economics. Being precise is important in economics because if the word doesn’t mean exactly what you intend to then the reader is learning false information. Being aware is a very important aspect of digital writing as issues like plagiarism, stereotyping, oversimplification, generalizing, jumping to conclusions, faulty logic or circular arguments, and the overuse of pronouns and articles can all make an economics article invalid. (Carroll) The last connection between digital writing and economics writing is that both disciplines require producers to be precise and concise. Being concise is an important aspect of the writing we have in economics because we have strict limits to lengths of our papers and anything that isn’t concise takes away from our main arguments. I think the multimodality also helps me as an economics major because much of the economic literature is dense in difficult language. I often look the subject up online and find articles that reference visual or audible aid to help me get a better picture of what is going on.
I believe that understanding the landscape of digital writing is a very beneficial towards our everyday lives as students. Digital writing is a major aspect of nearly every college students lives. An advantage of being Millennials is that we grew up with this technology that has allowed for digital writing. Not only are we reading social media but we are also gathering our information for classes online. I think in nearly all of my classes we have had some form of assignment that connects digital writing to the course. An example of this would be in my American Studies – Gender and Race in Sports class in which we are tasked with connecting themes we were learning in class with digital writing and media. When looking at these articles it was clear that the variety of websites are different and target their audience through different methods. It is important when coming across digital writing in a course to have a general idea of the platform this information is on and the audience. For example, having the knowledge that the Onion posts satirical articles allow me to stay away from their content when looking for credible resources. Also, when looking through post on the internet some sources may post information without fact checking in order to have their story come out first or stretch the truth. While there are some issues with the credibility of some digital writing we are able to access much more information than we ever could. You can write an entire research article without leaving the confines of your dorm room.
It will be interesting to see the use of digital writing beyond my life at Dickinson. I will be trying to enter the workforce after this school year. Whatever job I plan to get I’m sure digital writing will be very impactful. Currently I have been investigation different career paths online and found articles that have help me understand the job market. My dream job would be to work in a front office for a sports team. In this role, digital writing would be very important to knowing the landscape of the league and news surrounding players. For example, there was a lot of drama last week when Eric Bledsoe a player from the Pheonix Suns tweeted “I don’t wanna be here”.
This tweet essentially sent a message to every other team in the league saying that he isn’t happy and would like to be traded. Regardless of what type of job I will get or hopefully get, I will call upon digital writing for tips and strategies to use once at my new position. It will be interesting to see how the growth in technology influences our digital writing. I think that the increase in technology will allow for even more publicity of information.
Abilock, Debbie, “True—or Not?” Educational Leadership, v69 n6 p70-74 Mar 2012. 5 pp. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar12/vol69/num06/toc.aspx
Lanham, Richard . “Digital Literacy.” Richard Lanham: Digital Literacy, Sept. 1995, www2.idehist.uu.se/distans/ilmh/Ren/lanham-digital-lit.htm. Scientific American
Lim, S., & Steffel, N. (2015). Influence of user ratings, expert ratings and purposes of information use on the credibility judgments of college students. Information Research, 20(1), paper 658. Retrieved from http://InformationR.net/ir/20-1/paper658.html (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/…)
Rajchel, Jen. “Web Writing: Why and How for Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning.” Edited by Jack Dougherty and Tennyson O, Web Writing Why and How for Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning Consider the Audience Comments, University of Michigan Press, 4 Mar. 2015, epress.trincoll.edu/webwriting/chapter/rajchel/.
Rowley, Jennifer and Frances Johnson. “Understanding Trust Formation in Digital
Information Sources: The Case of Wikipedia.” Journal of Information Science, vol. 39, no. 4, n.d., pp. 494-508. EBSCOhost, envoy.dickinson.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edswsc&AN=000321979300006&site=eds-live&scope=site.
“ Digital optimists assert that tools will make us more democratic, flatten social hierarchies, and make knowledge more accessible and engaging. Meanwhile, digital pessimists worry about the lack of privacy, the substitution of information for knowledge, and the loss of social skills and face to face interaction.” – Stephen Barnard in “Building Castles in the Air: Critical Digital Pedagogy and the Pursuit of Praxis”
Can a Digital Environment be a Living Laboratory?
Imagine you are in a high school environmental ecology course. You are trying to learn about stream pH and biodiversity but the concepts seem far removed and readings in the textbook are dry and disengaging. In a laboratory setting you can perform experiments and follow a lab manual to come to predestined conclusions. Now, let’s say that you have access to five acres of land behind your school that is designated to the ecology class. Instead of working only from a textbook you are now able to go out into the dynamic environment and engage closely with the measurements you collect in the field. Perhaps your teacher lets you explore and come up with your own research question. You get on the bus at the end of the day with muddy jeans and a memorable learning experience. Your 15-year-old self has just spent the afternoon lab course in a living laboratory, a space designed for innovation and exploration.
Now, replace the gunky mud and learning how to understand the chemistry of the streams with learning how to write functionally. What kind of space is reactive and dynamic while also providing an opportunity for personal growth and an exploration of identity? A space for ownership, creativity, community building and self exploration for writing exists in cyberspace.
I want to use this digital platform to explore…
- How digital writing and technology are understood by writers with an educational background on the subject.
- The dangers and the benefits of digital writing for students.
- How digital writing has impacted my own time as a student.
- The need for high schools and colleges to have a mandatory course in digital literacy and digital writing.
In order to best understand the revolutionary potential in the application of digital writing in the classroom, we first must understand the already existing critical dialogue.
Don’t worry, I have already done a majority of the leg work for us….
Building off Barnard’s concept of a digital optimist and a digital pessimist, I invite you into the contradictory world of digital writing criticism.
Digital Pessimism and Skepticism
Technology has faced a lot of criticism, especially in regards to how it will impact human interaction. Sherry Turkle in her article “Alone Together” addresses the paradox of technological engagement leading to lack of physical engagement. There is this question of how humans will engage with technology, especially since, according to Turkly, “People are lonely. The network is seductive. But if we are always on, we may deny ourselves the rewards of solitude” (86). Here she grapples with the possible harms of over saturation leading to an overall decrease in personal time and a sense of self. To help articulate her point further, Turkle describes a future with humans so connected that they are disconnected physically. One example explores the relationship between a grandmother and a her granddaughter over Skype. Technology allows them to see each other, but it frees us the ability for the granddaughter to multitask, and therefore be distracted in the conversation. Turkle warns her readers (us) of the possible social negatives technology can bring.
“I once described the computer as a second self, a mirror of mind. Now the metaphor no longer goes far enough. Our new devices provide space for the emergence of a new state of the self, itself, split between the screen and the physical real, wired into existence through technology” (92).
In the end, she sees the benefits of a technologically hybrid world, yet, she fears a loss of humanity through an addiction to the technological world. This is a fear that dominates many a science fiction novel and is a common argument we are likely to hear from Baby Boomers. Thanks, Isaac Asimov for the horrifying robot future that still haunts my nightmares.
The perils of technology in the classroom extend beyond the dehumanization of students and bleeds into the economics of technology. Diane Racitch in her article “Promise and Peril” applauds the possibility of technical teaching tools in schools but warns of the privatization of such seemingly beneficial resources, “They claim to offer customized, personalized education, but that’s just rhetoric. They have high drop out rates, low test scores, and low graduation rates” (167). While the Digital optimist sees technology as a means of creating educational equity, Racitch argues that the resource once created will become a means of making a profit and even a way to further increase the gap between students learning abilities, “Teachers see technology as a tool to inspire student learning; entrepreneurs see it as a way to standardize teaching, to replace teacher, to make money and to market new products” (169). Education is an intersectional issue that combines race, class, ability, and to Racitch, while technology may be the saving grave of educational equity, it is important to keep in mind the motivations of those producing the software.
To my internal luddite, Racitch and Turkle make solid arguments for why hybridizing a classroom could be dangerous for students. Toss the computers out the window and bring back the textbooks, my tangible brain screams! But, then another voice kicks in, and this voice calls out my hypocrisy as I write. I am currently on a digital platform, writing to you about that I have learned as I hunted through scholarly readings. It was through technology that I was able to find the information and it is through technology that I will be able to publish this later in the night and hopefully you will read it. While, I must admit, technology seduced me into the rabbit hole of procrastination, but that feels more like an issue of mental fortitude compared to technology. At the end of the day, humans still have the agency to make decisions, and I want to further understand what critics have to say about digital writing. So, I’m going to put my internal luddite on hold and see what other voices there are in this conversation.
Digital Optimist or the Hybridizer
Now we dive into the more optimistic side of the criticism, particularly on the platform Digital Pedagogy. I started by reading Sean Morris’s article “Digital Writing uprising: Third-Order Thinking in the Digital Humanities.” He has a sentence in his article that really captured my attention, “Essays Quake and tremble at the Digital. They weep in awe and fascination. And they throw themselves into the abyss.”
The more I read Morris, the more I understand his argument that the digital world is one of dynamic change. When you write in this space, yes, your words are initially yours. But! Others will repurpose what we say and the concepts will develop. Instead of writing on a sheet of paper, and the paper getting turned in and forgotten, writing in a digital world is a space with higher stakes. Here, people from across the world can comment on my writing, they can tear it apart, they can challenge me, or we can work together. The internet is a digital writing community. Morris’s argument is all about this communal and living aspect of online writing. Additionally, he argues that “today there is no value to our writing except as it is made useful.” In this digital environment, value is derived from the audience. This attribute of digital writing is why it would be so important to incorporate it into curriculums at the high school and the college level. Students would learn how to cite properly while also learning how to collaborate, it is a writing workshop that writers can take home with them at the end of the day.
Danielle DeVoss tackles the importance of digital writing in the National Writing Project’s book titled Why Digital Writing Matters. In this book digital writing in the class room and as a learning tool is justified through its ability to provide a creative means of composition for students. Additionally the applicability of digital writing is explored and how, “Equipping students to write in only one modern—traditionally, black ink on white paper in scripted genres – will not serve students in their higher education experiences or in the workplaces of the future” (5). I really appreciated this aspect of the argument, as it moved to the practicality of writing and how digital writing can help give students an additional means of communication. Another interesting aspect of her argument was about how teenagers have a difficult time realizing that their use of technology, be it texting, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook are actually valid forms of writing. This way of approaching writing challenges previous conceptions of what writing is, and morphs it into a concept of use. Finally, DeVoss really prioritizes how digital writing is both the use of digital mediums but it is also the presence of collaboration to use those mediums. Just as Morris argues that digital writing is writing in and for a community, DeVoss stresses how the digital writing process can actually teach students how to collaborate.
This is the Liberal Arts argument that Dickinson students are familiar with. Through the adoption of a digital writing course into curriculum, students would strengthen another aspect of their academic and practical identity while learning how to work in ground and the importance of collaboration and audience.
Naomi Barnes is her article “Learning as Weaving” explores the importance of digital writing in the classroom as a means of deviating from a linear curriculum, highlighting similar importances that DeVoss addressed. Through a metaphor of a spider web, Barnes unpacks the value that that digital writing can offer students. Again, there is the theme of collaboration, “The key is to teach them to collaborate—to weave a web, strong, networked, and expansive. Perfect for catching the elusive creature that is new knowledge.” Knowledge is one hell of an elusive creature, I agree. Barnes then goes to say that in the class room that prioritizes digital writing, students have a chance to become an expert and they are able to learn from each other. This creates a sense of ownership and pride in students for their work and meaningful collaboration is able to occur as a result. Social Media also plays an important role in education as it allows for smaller interactions to occur between students. These interactions can help form community and allow for more substantial interactions over time.
“Social Media provides examples of small and large scale interactions that can inspire face to face interactions in the classroom, the school, the community, the nation, and the international stage. They can show us that some of the most ideas are not dictated by a curriculum.”
While Barnes praises student blog projects as a space for community building and personal development, she does warn that “Twitter and blogs are not the solution for learning, through they have the potential to be a great vehicle for it.” This hybridized approach is the focus of Stephen Barnard’s article “ Building Castles in the air: Critical Digital Pedagogy and the Pursuit of Praxis” where he argues that these should be both digital interaction in class rooms and in person discussion. Similar to how our course is run at Dickinson.
His argument supports my idea of a digital environment as a living laboratory when he says, “getting your hands dirty can be fun, especially when you leave room for failure and experimentation.” Barnard expands outside of the class room, justifying the presence of digital writing in class rooms as a means of giving students a more complete tool kit of skills for the world outside of college.
“Blogging and micro blogging offer excellent opportunities of collaborative learning. Similarly, digital story telling and content curation promote creativity and connection. Altogether, this pedagogy goes beyond the expectations of traditional education by helping learners acquire multiple types of capital that are viewed as valuable in today’s networked society.”
The value of digital writing exists within its ability to create a community for writers, a space for exploration and for experimentation. In a world where risk taking is vital to successful careers, learning at an early age how to use your voice and take academic risks in a digital world could really benefit students for their future.
Where do I stand?
Let me take you back to the high schooler spending their lab course outside in a space that encouraged collaboration and innovation for the students. I think it is important that we remain optimistic but realistic with our expectations of technology as a living laboratory for writing. However, a hybrid teaching environment would be benificial to students, and I know this from my own experience.
While not taking place directly in the academic sphere, my first profound moment with digital writing was when I started writing fiction and poetry online. I would finish my homework, excited to write for an audience that spent the time to read what I had to say. I quickly developed stories, intricate characters, and developed a voice as a poet (to some extent, of course). This space, outside of academia was extremely supportive and encouraging for me and I felt a strong sense of belonging both as a writer and as a thinker.
When talking about digital writing the word “community” is a buzzword. I truly experienced a community on Wattpad, even co writing stories with women in Australia! We connected and created over a space without the need for face to face interaction and what we created was consumed by others in the space and was capable of bringing them enjoyment. Getting positive and constructive comments on pieces only drove me to write more, and to challenge myself in different ways. This was my first true interaction with digital writing and it was formative for my love of the writing process and my desire to be an English Major.
Imagine how empowered students would be in high school courses if they had to maintain a blog that developed alongside their personal growth. For the students that took it seriously it has to potential to be powerful.
Now, I am a college level writer (you may not know that from this post, but I promise, get me writing on poetry…and). Digital writing has a different meaning to me now that I am taking a course on digital writing. As an aspect of the course I am able to curate and maintain my own blog. This blog of mine is devoted to Writing, cliché, I know. It is going to become a space for me to document my writing process, further explore what it means to write, and possible be a space to share some of my own creative writings.
Digital writing has always been a space of self expression, and this course only allows me to better understand the technicalities of making that self expression more impactful. The most impactful aspect of blog writing is that it allows for the development and the refining of an authorial voice. Other students would greatly benefit from the incorporation of digital writing into their lives or their education as it would give them a reason to experiment with writing and how they communicate over a formalist platform.
Another aspect of digital writing that I find interesting is its ability to help your writing in general. In order to be an effective digital writer, you must be concise and able to prioritize. I am still learning how to do that with my own writing, but if I had not taken a digital writing course the implication of boring or dragging writing would not be as apparent.
In my life right now I am trying to decide what it is that I want to do after college. One possible avenue of employment is to work with a non profit with their social media or digital presence. I am especially interested in how museums communicate with the public and strategies for making natural history more accessible to low income people. The digital ecosystem may be my way to help make these collections and information more attainable for those who are interested. Also, the skills that I am learning as a digital writer such as a need for creativity, mculimodality, and the mechanics of the digital world will help make me a more appealing job candidate as I have experience navigating an often overwhelming environment.
In the same way that students are learning about ecology by playing in a bog, I am learning about writing by playing in a blog.
Barnard, Stephen. “Building Castles in the Air: critical digital pedagogy and the pursuit of praxis.” Digital Pedagogy Lab, 1 Sept. 2015, http://www.digitalpedagogylab.com/hybridped/building-castles-in-the-air-critical-digital-pedagogy-and-the-pursuit-of-praxis/. Accessed 31 Oct. 2017.
Barnes, Naomi. “Learning As Weaving.” Digital Pedagogy Lab, 10 Nov. 2015, http://www.digitalpedagogylab.com/hybridped/learning-as-weaving/. Accessed 31 Oct. 2017.
DeVas, Daìnielle. Because Digital Writing Matters. Jossey-Bass, 2010. Print.
Morris, Sean Michael. “Digital Writing Uprising: third-order thinking in the digital humanities.” Digital Pedagogy Lab, 8 Oct. 2012, http://www.digitalpedagogylab.com/hybridped/digital-writing-uprising-third-order-thinking-in-the-digital-humanities/. Accessed 31 Oct. 2017.
Ravitch, Diane. “Promise and Peril.” Technology: a reader for writers, edited by Johannah Rogers, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 167-169.
Turkle, Sherry. “Alone Together.” Technology: a reader for writers, edited by Johannah Rogers, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 85-95.
What is Digital Writing? Why does it matter?
While it may not be something you think of, you digital write every day, multiple times a day. It allows for interpretation, builds relationships, is a way of communication, and is used in throughout every person’s life, through work, recreationally, and in school. Digital writing is computer-based writing that is crafted from previous knowledge and skills of the writer. While we see digital writing as words on a screen or paper, in “Because Digital Writing Matters” by Daniel Devoss, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, and Troy Hicks, they explain that digital writing as much more than what meets the eye, “digital writing is more than just a skill; it is a means of interfacing with ideas and with the world, a mode of thinking and expressing in all grades and disciplines” (2010). Digital writing plays a role in lives of so many people, not just those in the classroom. It has changed the thought of literacy throughout our world. It influences how we communicate with one another, through email, twitter, blogs, and text messaging. How we learn, through software that can be downloaded, Microsoft Word, and a galore of different websites with infinite information. Digital writing has even effected how we digest information over time, every lecture is matched with a power point where we can take notes with on a tablet and share with colleagues and friends. Whether it is obvious or not, digital writing, through technology is impacting and changing our world.
Digital writing is something that we, the younger generation, often referred to as “digital natives”, the “Net generation”, and “tech savvy”, can relate too and understand. We are constantly on our computers, iPads, and iPhones, texting, typing papers and doing research, using software like Microsoft Office, on twitter, and blogging. In today’s society, and with us digital natives being so in-tune with technological advances, we see digital writing everywhere, primarily because devices like computers and iPhones have become part of our culture. Cathy J. Pearman & Deanne Camp explain this further in their journal “Digital Writing: The Future of Writing is Now” by saying, “However, it is interesting to note while students are taking part in all this writing, they do not often call it writing. Students report writing is something they do while in school” (2014). We see writing all the time on devices, so we are more likely to do writing on those devices without even thinking about it. If you think about it, how many minutes a day do you think you spend on your phone? How much of it do you consider writing? Although it may not be sitting in class taking notes, or typing a paper in the library, a comment on Instagram, a quick blog post, a tweet, are all forms of digital writing that we partake in on a daily basis. Students are “digital natives who rely on mobile devices operating in continuous wireless networks” (Pearman & Camp, 2014).
Changing the Context
Digital writing has been so widely used that it is changing the context of writing. Pen and paper writing is being thrown out the window, as online publishing is able to spread and receive feedback from other people, multimedia is able to be used to include hyperlinks, photos, and sounds. “The National Governors’ Association and Council of Cief State School Officers reinforce this idea of collaboration by recommending studnets “use technology including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others” (Pearman & Camp 2014).
Students are no longer using pencil and paper to write essays or do homework assignments, as many assignments are online where the teacher can comment on your work and give feedback, creating a student teacher relationship that can improve learning in the classroom. In his article, “Organic Writing and Digital Media: Seeds and Organs”, Pete Rorabaugh writes, “Thesis statements and the discussion about them are posted to the digital environment, and commenting on peer thesis statements becomes an assignment” (2012). Digital writing isn’t just taking place in the classroom, it grows online. Rorabaugh is explaining that people make thesis statements, arguments, agreements, comments, everything that is a part of an essay, online. Through twitter, blogs, articles, academic journals, a topic can expand and grow in an infinite number of directions. Through digital writing, we have changed the context of what writing means, it has become an adequate way for us to write compared to pen and pencil.
Digital Writing in the Classroom
Throughout the past generation or so, technology has evolved tremendously, along with the way we use it, at home and work, on the streets, and in the classroom. With advancements in technology comes adaptation, some becoming more adaptive than others. Our generation has adapted and embedded technology into our lives. “New millennium learners are not only more skilled and adept at using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) than their teachers; they have also been shaped by it in terms of their patterns of thinking and communication, notions of learning, needs for control, and even their personal and social values” (Gu, Zhu, and Guo 2013). We know how software works, the ins and outs of it all, often times more than our parents and teachers combined. Because kids and younger adults are so accustomed to using technology, elementary schools, high schools, and colleges around the globe are finding ways to integrate technology within the classroom setting. Things like this is what is boosting digital writing around the world, through class websites, allowing students to comment and peer review others work, chatting with professors, etc.
Although, while we are in a day and age where technology is relevant and sometimes expected, some do have negative opinions. There are classrooms where teachers prefer to stay away from the use of technology, whether it be to help class lectures, increase discussion, or they merely think of it as a distraction. While this may be true in some cases, a national study in 2001 showed that 87% of faculty believe computer technology enhances student learning (Lavin, Korte, and Davies, n.d.). While it’s nearly undeniable that technology is a great use for education, it is dependent on the teacher and students to use whatever the technology may be, in an effective manner. “It’s how we use it that matters, we tell ourselves. The implication, comforting in its hubris, is that we’re in control” (Carr 2010). Without putting it to use, technology cannot be of assistance to us. With the acceptance, proper use, and understanding of the social and individual influences of technology, things like digital writing can flourish and be beneficial to students and professors in the classroom.
What Does Digital Writing Offer to Students at Dickinson?
We live in a society where technological evolution is happening in just about every aspect of life, so quickly and so often. We have grown up in an era where computers, cell phones, tablets, and more have become necessities of everyday life. With these devices glued to people’s hands and always in pockets, they have impacted the way we communicate with one another, learn, teach, and write. Because our environment is growing and becoming more advanced, we, as humans naturally adapt to the change. We have unlimited knowledge right at our fingertips, that we can access with a touch of a button. Because of all this, digital writing has become acceptable and necessary in schools and businesses throughout the world.
As a college student in 2017, I have become familiar and comfortable with digital writing. Going through the college process, especially here at Dickinson, a sustainable liberal arts school, during a time where technology is becoming so advanced has shown me just how relevant digital writing is. In just about every assignment that I have had during my college career, there has been some type of digital writing involved, whether it be on Microsoft word, power point, Moodle, the internet, etc. Some courses and professors implement digital writing in their syllabus and teaching styles more than others. For example, this class has students look at and engage in online writing a lot more than many of my economics class, through blog posts, online submissions, and more. Many foreign language courses require students to do assignments online, where they can hear correct pronunciations, record themselves, and even engage with students from other countries across the world. Overall, I think that a lot, if not all, of the professors have turned towards digital writing and having assignments online. For example, Moodle, a learning management system, gives students the ability to quickly and efficiently access the professors web pages through their phone or computer, where they can find they syllabus and upcoming assignments and projects. Not only does this fit today’s technical savvy generation of students, but it also compliments Dickinson’s moto of going green and promoting sustainability throughout the campus. Being able to search and download articles and academic journals on the Dickinson library website, find out exactly what your grades are, or how many flex points you have are all attributes that attest to Dickinson’s sustainability and digital success.
As our world becomes more technologically advanced, our economies are going to change. As an economics, major, I have found technology and digital writing to be useful in many ways. For example, collecting and processing data is important in understand how economies work, as technology has advanced over time, this process has become much faster, being able to use software to compile mass amounts of data and creating models. Online journals are huge within the world of economics, publishing findings is a way of communication, allowing others to read and analyze your work. Aplia is a website that is used for assignments, Microsoft office and power points for papers, lectures, and presentations, and there are multiple blog and news sites about the topic. With digital writing in economics, knowledge, discoveries, and other important information are able to be spread and implemented around the world, in a fast and efficient way.
When looking beyond my time here at Dickinson, and what life may bring to me in the business world, I know that digital writing is going to be a major part of it. Through job searching, networking, submitting my resume, and emailing with companies, I have already done a fair bit. Within my real estate development internship last summer, technological advances in data collecting, trying to find new, and use current sustainability methods were used every day. Our generation has become familiar with the ways of technology, which I think puts us in a good position when job searching and eventually entering the business world. We understand how to communicate through computers and cell phones, how they work, our ins and outs of them, putting us in a position for success.
Carr, Nicholas G. The Shallows What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. W.W. Norton, 2011.
DeVoss, D. E., Eidman-Aadahl, E., & Hicks, T. (2010). Because digital writing matters. Hoboken, NJ: JosseyBass, Publishers.
Gu, X., Zhu, Y., & Guo, X. (2013). Meeting the “Digital Natives”: Understanding the acceptance of technology in classrooms. Educational Technology and Society, 16(1), 392–402.
Lavin, A., Korte, L., & Davies, T. (2009). The impact of classroom technology on student behavior. Journal of Technology Research, 2, 1–13.
Pearman, Cathy J., and Deanne Camp. “Digital Writing: The Future of Writing is Now.” Journal of Reading Education, vol. 39, no. 3, 2014, pp. 29–32.
Rorabaugh, Pete. “Organic Writing and Digital Media: Seeds and Organs.” Hybrid Pedagogy, 21 June 2012, www.digitalpedagogylab.com/hybridped/organic-writing-and-digital-media seeds-and-organs/.
For Millennials and even the more dynamic members of generation Z students, the Internet and posting online has become second nature. Sending an email, commenting on a picture and instantaneously developing quirky captions are such common tasks that the technical element has practically become invisible. You don’t need to teach the younger generation how to use the Internet because they are already of the Internet. However, some would also argue that articulating the fundamentals is also helpful for maintain a dominance of one’s own territory.In terms of understanding the how important features of online writing help influence the manner through which we communicate, it is essential to actual define these features. And it is of this mindset that I present to you the core factors of digital writing. With the help of credentialed authors on the topic of digital content, I have curated some indispensible the tools for producing effective and informative digital writing:
Step #1 – Keep it Short:
In his manual, “Twelve Tips to Better Writing for the Mobile Web” David Lee King attempts to enlighten readers and web users on how to orchestrate a suitable online culture in order to garner larger following. He proclaims in the abstract of the article that in the rapid world of online scrolling; “We must get our point across and have the writing be engaging. And yet, at the same time, customers need to be able to quickly read and understand it.”(King 2017) Most specifically, his article aims to lay the ground rule for writing intended for the small screen, aka smart phones, and aka that thing you cannot live without.
This concept of adapting the convention of writing to be more presentable on the small screen is reflective of the significant points in his work. His proposal to “Think Short” is demonstrative of his desire to adapt. King urges writers to “Skip the welcome message and the introductory paragraphs explaining the reasons for a new service. Instead, say what you mean in as few words as possible.” (King 2017) Although the suggestion of skipping pleasantries such as introductory paragraphs might appear to be preposterous to some born last century (I am also included in this shade) King attests it is beneficial to maintaining viewers attention. This concise nature is parallel in an article “Writing for the Web Versus Writing for Print” by librarian and Internet tenant Judy Gregory. In this piece that focuses on the stark distinctions between the traditional medium of print as opposed to the flashy media of the web, Gregory implores authors to write, “No more than 50% of what you would write for print.” (Gregory 2004) She fortifies her suggestion with scientific research “that suggests that reading from the screen is slower than reading from paper.”(Gregory 2004)
Her suggestions and the rationale behind them imply that readers are more comfortable when given shorter word counts on online platforms because they have a shorter attention span. There key is to make easily scannable material accessible for readers on the go. In conversation with this point to increasing the readers’ level comfort with online information, the King piece articulates critical steps for achieving these goals; “focus on the ideas, topics, or goal per pages…edit, edit, edit. Every word needs to count” (King 2017) The process of editing, though frustrating for most, does help produce a clearer sense of understanding for the reader – and even for the writer. Through editing, a writer is able to revise complex ideas and formulate a more succinct means of communicating their message. It is the chance to quickly comprehend details from a web page that subliminally Internet users yearn. Therefore, both King and Gregory contend that straightforward language and scannable content are imperative to developing a sturdy following.
Step #2 – Ignore Your English Teacher – Keep it Conversational:
Another key factor for digital writing that can to some extent be perceived as a testament to the age of millennials, is the notion of informality. Like several aspects of youth culture, the Internet is a chasm in which literature standards once revered in print media slowly dissipate. Keeping it casual – embodied by meme culture and mottos like YOLO – appears to be the consensus taken on by experts of the digital writing realm. Gregory emphasizes the need for scannability because “Users don’t have time to work hard for their formation” (Gregory 2004). As such, a conversational tone of voice in blogs, articles or websites is typically adopted by online platforms in order to increase the approachable nature of a site. Users respond more positively to online stages that they perceive accessible. In keeping with the cordial message, King entreats his readers to adopt colloquial tonality by defying ingrained literary rules. He beckons digital writers to abolish the rule that “Sentence structures are unacceptable” from their collective online imagination. Instead, he proposes writers, “use [fragmented sentences] sparingly, but feel free to use incomplete sentences [because] they provide a stronger impact when used.”(King 2017) This suggestion mimics the online culture of texting between teens and young adults of the modern era. Hence appropriating short sentence structures, which are typically employed in personal text conversations, into accredited blogs is a strategy for the writer to strengthen reader commitment; readers are more likely to identify with the type of writing styles that they are already familiar.
Familiarity of style is also beneficial because it boosts the likelihood of the reader remaining on the web page. Harkening to King’s notion of scannability for small screens, and his recommendation that “text should automatically adjust to fit and be readable on a variety screen sizes” (King 2017) it could be argued that his call for self-activating, and practically instinctive speed is due to the readers’ agitated state. Gregory confirms this in a key guideline of hers, “the Web encourages casual restless reading behavior. People skim websites and will leave if they experience boredom or disappointment.” (Gregory 2017) The reality that Gregory paints is bleak because due to the many online options readers of digital media are now viewed to be highly critical of the content that they pursue and consume. Hence in this vast state of endless articles and instant media access, it is pivotal for writing to be concise, slangy, and familiar.
Step #3 – Visual Elements Count:
In terms of defining the crucial elements of successful digital writing, one major aspect that is often overlooked is the visual layout of words on the page. Structuring the layout of a website in order to produce content for it would seem like the most levelheaded step for a digital writer. However, because of the fast paced temperament of millennials and gen Z’ers, channeling ones inner Ferris Bueller and stopping to acknowledge the formation of a site is rarely done.
On the other hand, King’s purpose for writing is to call attention to the details missed by the accustomed eye, which is why he plays up the design rules by lacing them through out his argument. He forces the writer to consider the ways technology assists or hinders the experience of reading for followers as they navigate the site; “when reading down a page, smartphone readers touch and move a finger down the screen to advance…touching works great unless there’s an embedded scrollable box in the middle of an article. Then the page gets a bit more confusing to touch….you might accidentally touch the embedded content and scroll what’s in the smaller box.” (King 2017) These digital landmines could prove to bring discomfort to the reader, and thus distract from the writing. Ultimately, if not constructed appropriately, webpages could detract from the readers’ attention and alter their willingness to revisit. It could consequently be suggested that the design elements of online platforms have a significant hold on the readers’ relationship to the writer. It is for this reason that Gregory is justified in her argument that in terms of online media –as opposed to print – “Structure and design are concerns for the Web writers.”(Gregory 2004)
Gregory is of the belief that digital writers become more invested in the publishing components of their jobs because of the connection to their readers. Gregory also supports the concept that the role of the writer has evolved to include other facets of the digital world. “Web writers need to be more than great wordsmiths; they also need to understand and address site architecture and the capabilities of interactive media.”(Gregory 2004) In today’s age, since the ways that readers experience the site through navigation directly impacts their reaction to the content, the writer is motivated to take on a variety of roles in order to proper execute their vision and maintain a bond to their followers. Gregory notes how this is completely goes against the rules of print media where “the project manager, editor, and designer may be kept separate in print projects”(Gregory 2004).
Why Should You Care About Digital Writing?
In terms of grasping the importance of these detailed tools of digital writing, I think it is noteworthy to consider the argument put forward by Lisa Levesque in her piece on “Engaging in 140 Characters or Less.” Levesque argues for the importance of social cohesion and positive communicative standards within online communities. She maintains that in the rapidly changing world of digital media and writing, it is crucial for communities to develop and preserve a social identity. This argument speaks to the reasons illuminated by King and Gregory as to how the definition of digital writing tools help bring about a sense of clarity for readers. Levesque accordingly so, delves into the use of these digital platforms in strengthening bonds; “User engagement was emphasized above all else, with 80% of posts being concerned with relationship building and 20% with self-promotion.” (Levesque 2016) The goal of digital writing is to capture the attention of the reader and create subsequent interactions between themselves and the author, the material, and the larger world. From this perspective, the reader is empowered to connect more profoundly with the blog content because they are provided with the opportunity to do so in a public forum that offers more room for collaboration. The role of the reader is therefore transformed from passive spectator – as was the case with print media – to active stakeholder. The mere fact that 80% of bloggers’ intention when publishing is directed toward heightening user interaction reveals how the reader participation is now revered. This new viewpoint of the readers’ role is parallel to the transformation of the writers’ responsibility. More so, it also speaks to an idea; “The Internet has empowered ordinary citizens to become fact-checkers and analysts. People with a wide range of experiences can collaborate online, sharing knowledge, sources and ideas, and challenging each others’ facts.” (Carroll 2010)
Digital writing has been shown to flip the script and redefine social positions and conventions of literature. In Sean Michael Morris’ article, “DIGITAL WRITING UPRISING: THIRD-ORDER THINKING IN THE DIGITAL HUMANITIES” he works to validate this claim, and yet test the limits. He initially acknowledges the merits of this newfound collaborative process brought on by the fluidity of digital writing; “As our writing practices become more and more digital, we discover that immense collaboration is possible, and we create meaningful networks using social media tools that help us control that collaboration, monitor it, make it purposeful.” (Morris 2012) Nevertheless, Morris cautions against attaching a positive outlook to the ever-changing aspects of digital writing. He suggests that simply because the roles of both the reader, and the writer have been expanded so that they are more inclusive or influential, does not guarantee that this change will bear positive impact; “Academic writing, intellectual writing — this writing right here — cannot know how it will be excerpted, repurposed, discovered, reimagined, plagiarized, undone…. therefore our reflections upon digital writing are always already ironic.” (Morris 2012)
Regardless of the irony, defining the devices of digital realm is instrumental to navigating through it and advancing communication with each other. I previously stated that this world is for many millennials and generation Z’ers entrenched within their collective consciousness. Yet, this privilege of having grown up in a technologically forward era does not ensure that correct usage of these platforms; “Young workers are often assumed to have an innate knowledge of the digital world and a real interest in using social media. This is not always the case. New workers, though they may be interested in using social media, will have the least knowledge of the organization that they are trying to represent. “ (Levesque 2016) Exposure to an experience will not always endow one with understanding. Morris echoes this argument by observing how “authors, we go unsuspecting about the Internet… to impose sequence and structure on a medium more familiar with non sequitur, and what we get back is revolt. Digital writing is a rebellion.” (Morris 2012) In spite of this rebellion, it is more meaningful to attempt to tame the beast of digital writing by learning guidelines and practices in order to achieve a sense of order for future interactions.
It is my perspective that understanding the codes and conducts of digital writing and media use are critical steps to forming bonds and appropriate professional relationships with others on and offline. For example, a college student such as myself would need to comprehend the dos and don’ts of official networking sites of the likes of LinkedIn, if they are to succeed in the real world. In this case, although Morris is right about the digital age being a state of rebellion against conventional literature styles, there are still platforms that function to fulfill rather traditional activities.
Some of the key rules for producing content and engaging in social spaces are still applicable. When outlining one’s online persona on professional platforms, the guidelines of web as articulated by King and Gregory remain highly relevant; drafting profiles involves one adopting the tools brevity, deliberately fragmented sentence structure, and an awareness of page layout. Tools necessary for the reader – who could be an potential employer, an alumnus, a peer – to be able to scan through and maintain interest in what they see. These tools are help modern youth and students communicate in newly meaningful ways, hence breathing life into the Morris’ belief that “Through digital writing we form a new relationship to our words: text becomes functional.” (Morris 2012)
Carroll, Brian. “Blogito, Ergo, Sum: Trends In Personal Publishing” Writing For Digital Media. Rutledge. 2010. http://blogs.dickinson.edu/wrpg211/files/2016/08/Carroll_Blogito-Ergo-Sum.pdf
Gregory, Judy. “Writing for the Web Versus Writing for Print: Are They Really soDifferent?.” Technical Communication, vol. 51, no. 2, May 2004, pp. 276-285. EBSCOhost, envoy.dickinson.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspxdirect=true&db=ufh&AN=13026970&site=eds-live&scope=site.
Lee King, David. “12 TIPS to Better Writing for the Mobile Web.” Computers in Libraries, vol. 36, no. 1, Jan/Feb2016, pp. 12-16. EBSCOhost, envoy.dickinson.edu/loginurl=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspxdirect=true&db=rzh&AN=112316567&site=eds-live&scope=site.
Levesque, Lisa. “Social Media in Academic Libraries: Engaging in 140 Characters or Less.” Public Services Quarterly, vol. 12, no. 1, 01 Jan. 2016, pp. 71-76. EBSCOhost, envoy.dickinson.edu/loginurl=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspxdirect=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1094690&site=edslive&scope=site.
Morris, Sean Michael. “DIGITAL WRITING UPRISING: THIRD-ORDER THINKING IN THE DIGITAL HUMANITIES” Hybrid Pedagogy, 8 Oct. 2012, www.digitalpedagogylab.com/hybridped/digital-writing-uprising-third-order-thinking-in-the-digital-humanities/.
In the ever so changing world we live in today, digital writing is becoming a norm. Online writing is how most people receive information. Through articles, videos, news outlets and social media, people turn to the online world to communicate and receive all sorts of information. This digital writing is becoming so important, not only to use but to understand in order to be fully engaged in this community. Social media is growing exponentially, so being aware what you write is crucial. For example, twitter provides you with a platform to express thoughts, feelings or ideas in less than 140 characters. Trump once tweeted the word “covfefe” which sparked a nation of confusion and bewilderment. One word, one tweet can change your life and in this example, ultimately confused an already weary nation because of the broad audience it spoke to. This online world moves so fast its also important to make sure you slow down and look what’s directly in front of you.
In “Consider the Audience” by Jen Rajchel, she discusses the essentials for web writing and why and how its important to liberal arts learning. Considering the audience of who you are writing for is also important. Learning that you are not only writing for yourself, but also writing for people that make up a larger community. Keeping in mind what will help you become more involved and relevant in this community can help you become a more successful online writer. With so many different types of online writing, it gives an opportunity to become part of many different platforms. Rajchel states, “One of the biggest challenges and opportunities in digital publication is reaching out across multiple audiences with varied interests and deciphering which platforms are best suited to ones content.” This doesn’t mean you have to pick a certain group of people or an interest and write directly to them. But more so that you understand what your writing about and to who so you can speak to them more specifically. For example, you’re not going to write specifically about sports if you are composing a blog about modern day politics. Yes, your creating comparisons and relationships are always helpful but understanding what content fits on what platform is even more important. This is where tone comes in to play. The way you write must engage the audience and create a relationship between the reader and the writer. Asking questions that make the reader think or providing examples that are relatable are a great way to do that. Also, the multimodal aspect of online writing is important because this is a great way for the writer to set the stage. Having pictures, hyper links and videos gives the reader an opportunity to be engaged in different ways. This is what creates for a closer reader and writer connection.
Digital writing is also important because of its ease. The ability to access this online writing and reading is something that appeals to all generations. It builds communities and connects you with people you otherwise wouldn’t come into contact with. Digital writing makes you feel a like because of the transparency it provides, as nothing can really be deleted. For example, you may feel as though you’re the only person in the world that enjoys looking at ugly renaissance babies. Well that’s where your wrong because Tumblr has a whole blog dedicated to just that. Here it is in case you were wondering. https://uglyrenaissancebabies.tumblr.com/. This one page just connected you to so many different people through your interest you once thought no one else had. The power of online writing!
This idea of connection is important when discussing digital environments because technology inherently connects us all the time. In “Electric involvement: Identity performance in children’s informal writing” by Guy Merchant, he discusses patterns of communication and how they are changing our social lives. “We inhabit a social world in which identity is complex, no longer closely tied to place or territory, delineated by nationhood, nor simply created, as psychology suggests, through acts of identification.” (301 Merchant) Technology allows us to be connected no matter where we are in the world. Writing online provides us with an interactive platform that can reach so many different people and in so many different ways.
“Digital Writing Uprising: Third-order Thinking in the Digital Humanities” by Sean Michael Morris begins to explain this idea of digital writing and why it is so important today. Early on he begins with the idea of how online writing makes transformations “Digital writing provides no road map. Where it goes, what it does, how it lives when were not watching is something we cannot foretell. First sentences, then, fall flat.” These transformations happen from the writer when actually producing the work but also throughout the digital community with the readers. You don’t know who is going to read your work and that can lead you to some pretty interesting people or things. He goes on to explain how digital writing is action. “Not that writing inspires action, or comes out of action, or responds to action. But that the words themselves are active.” This is ultimately because when we write online we are joining a community. Our writing is in collaboration with many different people we most likely don’t know. This can be helpful, useful and allows us to create different networks on so many different platforms that involve different types of content.
Technology can be both used for good and evil. Its how the user itself chooses to do so. Technology illustrates this idea of a double-edged sword because of the benefits it provides but with that comes a price. In “The Driver in the Driverless Car” by Vivek Wadhwa she provides us this idea of how technology leaves us to make choices. “You will see that there is no black and white. The same technologies can be used for good can be used for evil in a continuum limited only by the choices we make jointly.” (XV Wadhwa) Technology benefits us in regards to communication with a vast majority of people, the collaboration of ideas, improvement in education and so on. But with that comes this idea of distraction, lack of attention, addiction to social media and removal of interpersonal connection. Wadhwa goes as far as to say there is a possibility of technology destroying industries and jobs. For example, she presents us with Clifford, who is a digital tutor through a VR headset. Clifford is exceptional at providing information and understanding how I learn. This one on one interaction is very beneficial in terms of learning but the lack of personal connection is concerning. These costs and benefits are all relevant but it comes down to the choices we make of how we use technology and if as a society we can control this beast that sometimes seems untamable.
Also, digital writing is everywhere whether you are engaging in the online community or not you are still bringing forth experiences you have had online. In “Because digital writing matters” by Danielle Nicole DeVoss, she explains how most writing is essentially based from a digital aspect. “Composed with digital tools, created out of word, image, sound and motion; circulated in digital environments; and consumed across a wide range of digital platforms.” (IX, DeVoss) We can’t escape digital writing because a lot of our experiences we have accumulated have come from the digital world. Networking has become such an essential piece in writing that it’s almost impossible to look over. For example, there is just no way to advance in the world we live in today without the basic understanding of technology, digital writing and social media in regards to networking and future careers. The idea of writing has always been thought of as a pen and paper but in this ever-evolving world it has become increasingly digital.
Digital writing has had a huge impact on my life in terms of my education, social and family life. The ability of communication that technology provides is extremely unique. The fact that we can live video and talk to people instantly from across the globe is almost hard to fathom. Technology almost allows us to be reachable and connected no matter what we are doing or where we are. One example of the communication that technology has provided for me is through recruiting and how I ended up here at Dickinson. A simple email expressing interest to head coach Dave Webster with an attached video of my highlight reel is how we first connected. No prior meeting or mutual connection just a simple email and video sparked his interest. Several emails and phone calls later, it led to my decision of where I wanted to go to college. This blog below provides an interesting picture of what it was like to be recruited in the 1900’s and how it has changed. http://www.ncsasports.org/blog/2015/03/28/how-technology-has-changed-college-recruiting-for-coaches/
Without this ability to communicate online using technology there would be a void in the recruiting process. This can be related to many other walks of life but this recruiting process is very relevant to my life and technology had a direct affect on it.
Throughout my three years here at Dickinson, technology and digital writing has been crucial in regards to my education. For example, language is something that requires constant practice and communication is essential. The Spanish department has a certain Skype program where you can set up live sessions with people from Spanish speaking countries. I’ll never forget the experience I had using Skype and being able to have a conversation with someone across the world because it was one of the best ways for me to learn Spanish. With technology this idea of communication and collaboration becomes real. When put to use in an academic setting it gives you a great opportunity to learn, which is what it did for me.
Technology has the ability to enhance the classroom and improve your educational experience but it also can take away from your ability to be engaged, or connect with material, ideas and classmates. One-way technology has somewhat hindered my opportunity of growth is through the distraction it causes within the classroom. I feel as though having a phone within class at college has increased my sense of focus. For example, while studying for a test or doing homework I find myself attached to my phone. In “Because digital writing matters” DeVoss states, “young people are engaged in a multipurpose, highly participatory, “always on” relationship with digital media.” There is a feeling of constantly wanting or needing to be connected to social media or the Internet that causes this. I believe that having your phone at all times provides us with an opportunity to be over connected and feel dependent. Using the Internet as a platform for learning such as Google and other scholarly articles is beneficial but has made me become reliant. Digital writing provides a multi-modal aspect that is not only engaging but also addictive. Lists, videos, links and pictures have become such a norm with digital writing that it makes textbook reading seem so disengaging. In an academic environment I believe it would be beneficial to disconnect but personally I have struggled with that throughout college.
DeVoss, Danielle Nicole. Because Digital Writing Matters: Improving Student Writing in Online and Multimedia Environments. John Wiley & Sons, 2010, books.google.com/books?id=mClCOKWErhMC&dq=digital writing&lr=&source=gbs_navlinks_s.
Morris, Sean M. “Digital Writing Uprising: Third-Order Thinking in the Digital Humanities.” Hybrid Pedagogy, Hybrid Pedagogy, 8 Oct. 2012, www.digitalpedagogylab.com/hybridped/digital-writing-uprising-third-order-thinking-in-the-digital-humanities/.
Merchant, Guy. “Electric Involvement: Identity Performance in Children’s Informal Digital Writing.” Waidner- Spahr Library , Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, Sept. 2005, kf6nl3av4d.scholar.serialssolutions.com/?sid.
Rajchel, Jen. “Consider the Audience .” Web Writing: Why and How for Liberal Arts Teaching .
Wadhwa, Vivek, and Alex Salkever. The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future. BK Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2017.
The year is 2017, and it often feels impossible to step outside your door and not see people glued to their electronic devices with fingers blazing, typing away. Following the Digital Revolution of the 1970’s, on-screen writing has become integrated into everyday life ranging from social media platforms like Twitter to academic databases used by education institutions worldwide. This post itself was assigned in an English course dedicated to educating students how to best understand and utilize digital writing. Writing digitally opens new avenues for writers through more literary freedom, multimodality and mass collaboration in a manner in which traditional on-paper literature lacked. However, despite its innate advantages, there is an argument that digital writing takes away from (or even forgoes) some of the foremost literary principles attributed to on-paper writing. Nonetheless, Digital writing has and will continue to be an increasingly ingrained part of the 21st century’s cultural context. As a result, being capable of effectively writing online is necessary for navigating literacy of the future both formally and informally.
The Rise of Digital Writing
Following the rise of technology, digital writing has become more and more prevalent in society’s social, educational and professional spheres. In the United States alone, 1.96 billion people write digitally via media sites like Twitter and Facebook, accounting for an astonishing 81 percent of the population. It is clear to connect the statistics to the relevance digital writing has within our day to day social lives. As well as its prevalence in informal literature, digital writing also plays a massive role in the educational and professional place. Traditionally, professional and academic environment was characterized by paper, pen, and piles of written work. However now so more than ever, students are writing through digital educational platforms like Moodle while academics post scholarly articles for databases online. Troy Hicks, Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl in their book, “Because Digital Writing Matters: Improving Student Writing in Online and Multimedia Environments” emphasizes the importance of teaching digital writing in education. Hicks offers that, “[because] young people today have an unprecedented level of access to a wider range of content and connectivity than ever before, yet access does not ensure that reflection and learning take place. Student writers will need thoughtful and well-prepared teachers and mentor” (Hicks, 2). Within the contemporary workspace, digital writing manifests itself in policy legislation, promotional advertising, and public relation in which can be discussed collaboratively. Digital writing is a key component to the twenty-first-century lifestyle from working, socializing and schooling.
Advantages to Digital Writing
But how and why did digital writing become such an integral part of modern writing? Well, digital writing offers writers advantage tools that analog writing does not. One of the benefits of writing digitally is that it is multimodal. Writing on paper is typically one dimensional but writing online is multifaceted in its ability to engage an audience. Digital writing such as blogs and article posts, often feature pictures, hyperlinks, audio, and even video. This gives writers more ways to connect with readers across multiple mediums. In addition to granting increased freedom, digital writing opens the door for “mass-collaboration”. Digital writing can be easily accessed, assessed and critiqued by millions of people within the online community. This increased capacity for collaboration provides more avenues for writers to better develop their pieces than previously thought possible. Jen Rajchel’s article “Consider the Audience” argues that digital environments make for better writing by presenting “a broader dialogue among scholars and texts” (Rajchel). Because every piece put online can reach a much larger audience, there is a greater obligation to provide thoughtful and in-depth content to them. As a result, the writer typically put more intent on producing high quality of work. Rajchel concludes that “When students [people] feel an increased level of investment in their projects and a heightened sense of responsibility to an actual audience, the work becomes less about grades and more about shaping their scholarship.” This is advantageous because digital writing simultaneously raises the standard of production while engaging author investment in the process of learning how to write.
How to Produce Quality Digital Writing
Much about writing effectively online revolves around finding an authentic tone to present to your audience. Writing off the paper allows for more literary freedom providing space for one’s voice as an author to better manifest itself. Pete Rorabaugh, an English professor at Kennesaw State University, wrote an article “Organic Writing and Digital Media: Seeds and Organs” further explaining how to develop an authentic tone when writing online. In order to create an organic voice while writing online, it’s best, to begin with, a stream of consciousness. The article encourages online authors to “write loosely” (Rorabaugh) for both explicit and creative writing pieces. Despite the common, the misconception that writing must follow a fixed, linear process, writing freely allows for smooth transitions being paragraphs and changes in thought. Writing loosely fosters more casual, organic tones of writing, and despite its potential to lack organization – format can be reevaluated and improved upon later in the re-drafting process. In the digital environment, Rorabaugh argues that there is no one way to go about the writing process. He identifies that “Each paragraph is an experiment, and comments in the digital space should focus on whether specific approaches are valuable, useful, or empty.” Freedom and creativity within the writing process lend themselves toward ensuring a piece reads as authentic.
In addition to “writing loosely”, if a piece is to genuinely read as organic, one’s writing process must be an interactive experience between the writer and the expected audience. This way your online piece can become the product of the collaborations within your online community. Pete Rorabaugh supports that this understanding is especially important when writing for digital environments as, “they rebuild ‘audience,’ expose the organic layers of a composition and invite participation in key stages along the way”(Rorabaugh). Digital writing pieces put emphasis on author-audience collaboration, as he explains “[the] growth [of a piece] is determined by the encouragement and critique of the community.” (Rorabaugh). Students should be taught that organic writing is less reliant of traditional ways of constructing a piece but rather on the collaboration of author and community. This approach allows for pieces to be better capable of connecting with audiences as organic writing.
Digital Writing V. Analog
Despite the tips offered in “Organic Writing and Digital Media: Seeds and Organs”, some argue that online writing will never be as organic as tradition analog literature. Writing online offers instant access to varied audiences, multimodal forms expression and greater collaboration within the writing process. However, there is concern that the digital tools meant to accommodate authors actually take away from their ability to write effectively. As a result, some argue that digital writing should not be gaining prominence in the education system. Kristen Purcell, Judy Buchanan, and Linda Friedrich, in their book “The Impact of Digital Tools on Student Writing and How Writing is Taught in Schools,” reveal some of the concern teachers across the nation have about digital writing. Digital writing is used universally among various platforms from texting to academia. They identified that because digital writing is present in so many facets of everyday life it presents, “an increasingly ambiguous line between ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ writing and the tendency of some students to use informal language and style in formal writing assignments” (Purcell, 2) Despite providing writer with a larger and more varied audience, digital writing requires more emphasis to be put on developing unique voice for various crowds. Some argue that digital tools make students less capable writer by doing too much of the work for them. Purcell, Buchanan and Friedrich also found that 46% of teacher believe digital tools, “make students more likely ‘write too fast and be careless”. Surveys in their book also reveal that “68% [of teachers] say that digital tools make students more likely… to take shortcuts and not put effort into their writing” (Purcell, 2) The efficiency of digital writing can be hindering to a student’s ability to engage in reading and writing longer pieces of literature. Some educators have adopted an understanding that digital literature takes away from the authenticity of writing. However, the National Commission on Writing: “The Neglected “R”: The Need for a Writing Revolution” (2003) disputes that this conservative approach to literature is limiting:
“in today’s complex, high-technology world, the importance of writing as a fundamental organizing objective of education is no less valid or practical. Writing, properly understood, is though on paper. Increasingly, in the information age, it is also though on screen, a richly elaborated, logically connect amalgam of ideas words, themes, images, and multimedia designs” – (The Neglected “R”, 13)
The future of writing directly correlates with the advancement of digital technology. In an ever technologically advancing society, digital writing is just as – if not more- valid a medium as analog writing. It is no coincidence that digital writing has assumed an increasing role in all levels of education. As a result, Troy Hick explains: “Teachers of writing have a crucial role in supporting students in understanding the complexities of communicating in a twenty-first-century world” (Hicks, 2) The versatility, reach and growing presences of digital writing cements its place within the academic sphere and the grander world at large.
My Experience with Digital Writing
My personal experiences align with research’s understanding that digital writing is deeply interwoven into the twenty-century-context. Every day I find myself utilizing digital writing in one form or another.
This semester I am taking a Writing in & for Digital Environments class. This course offers insight on techniques to make digital posts as impactful as possible such as those offered in Rorabaugh’s “Organic Writing and Digital Media: Seeds and Organs”. I am the Social Media and Marketing Chair for the Dickinson Octal A Capella Group and as such I am tasked with monitoring and managing our group’s online presences. Through social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, digital writing allows for my group to expand its presence both online and on campus. Not only do I use the tools provided by this course to aid my post for The Octals, they also help me navigate my own student blog: The Gauntlet. Before taking a class on digital writing I was not familiar with the multimodal aspect associated with blogs. Nor was I familiar with the capacity of mass-collaboration in online writing. Most of my writing as a student was limited to the classic five-paragraph essays of high school. When I first enter the class, the multimodality of digital writing seemed like another complex layer to navigate while the idea of millions of people having access to my work was terrifying. However, Writing in & for Digital Environments has molded my understanding of both, as tools to further progress my writing throughout my academic career as a “Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship” major. Furthermore, my digital writing class prepares me for my future career outside of college. In the future, I intend on working in advertising and marketing. Since taking Writing in & for Digital Environments, I recognize digital writing will continue to shape my life in social, academic and professional aspects.
Purcell, Kristen, et al. “The Impact of Digital Tools on Student Writing and How Writing Is Taught in Schools.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 15 July 2013, www.pewinternet.org/2013/07/16/the-impact-of-digital-tools-on-student-writing-and-how-writing-is-taught-in-schools/.
Rajchel, Jen, et al. “Consider the Audience.” Web Writing: Why and How for Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning. Eds. Jack Dougherty and Tennyson O’Donnell. Trinity College ePress edition, 2014. EBook. 29 October 2017, https://epress.trincoll.edu/webwriting/chapter/rajchel/
The Nation Commission on Writing, et al. “National Writing Project.” The Neglected “R”: The Need for a Writing Revolution – National Writing Project, The College Board, Apr. 2003, www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/2523.
Project, National Writing, et al. “Because Digital Writing Matters: Improving Student Writing in Online and Multimedia Environments.” Alibris, Mar. 2015, www.alibris.com/Because-Digital-Writing-Matters-Improving-Student-Writing-in-Online-and-Multimedia-Environments-National-Writing-Project/book/27744760.
Purcell, Kristen, et al. “The Impact of Digital Tools on Student Writing and How Writing Is Taught in Schools.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 15 July 2013, www.pewinternet.org/2013/07/16/the-impact-of-digital-tools-on-student-writing-and-how-writing-is-taught-in-schools/.
Rorabaugh, Pete. et al. “Organic Writing and Digital Media: Seeds and Organs.” Hybrid Pedagogy, 21 June 2012, www.digitalpedagogylab.com/hybridped/organic-writing-and-digital-media-seeds-and-organs/.
What Is Digital Writing?
Writing has and always will play a major role in peoples everyday lives. This is especially apparent in education, personal relationships, the job market, etc. Writing is a key language skill, which allows individuals to communicate and express themselves through written expression. The emphasis on writing has not changed, however the ways in which people write have. In this day and age where technology runs the world, digital writing has become increasingly popular and more and more educators/individuals are beginning to shift towards it due to its popularity and accessibility. Facebook and twitter are examples of how digital writing has led to more individuals than ever before joining social media and writing digitally. In classes like this, professors promote the use of digital writing through assigning each student their own online blog.
It may seem somewhat obvious what the difference between digital writing and writing in general is and yes the fact that one involves the use of technology and the other doesn’t necessarily, is correct. However it goes beyond just the use of technology. In the past twenty years, technology networks have been a major change agent, but along with the changes that have come with those networks, are changes that have occurred culturally and that could be one of the reasons digital writing has grown to what it is today. In Jeff Grabill’s article, Why Digital Writing Matters in Education, he offers an insightful opinion on how he personally believes culture has shaped digital writing. “Digital writing is networked, and because of this, often deeply collaborative or coordinated. Wikipedia, for instance, is not possible without a computer network. But it is the cultural changes in how we write that an example like Wikipedia makes clear. Or consider Facebook, which is perhaps the most pervasive and commonplace collaborative writing platform in human history” (Grabill). Digital writing has allowed for people to write in all sorts of networks, without even a realization that what they are doing is considered writing. Digital technologies have made it increasingly easy to write in all sorts of new ways and this is especially apparent with younger generations, specifically in education with students. Examples of this are posts on Twitter and Facebook. At the time it might not seem as if one is writing digitally, but as long as there is any writing and it’s on or through a digital platform, it is considered digital writing.
In The Classroom
Jennifer Woollven is an English teacher at West Lake High School in Austin, Texas. Just like we do in our class with our online blog posts, Woollven has her students post their creative writing assignments and essays on blogs. When asked about her reasoning behind this in the article titled, Social Media Makes for Better Student Writing, Not Worse, Teachers Say, she answered “As an English teacher who is trying to improve student writing, one thing I see is that people are seeing greater ownership of their writing when they know it will be seen beyond the class and the teacher”. This is not unique to only Woollvens English either. “A study released today by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and the National Writing Project has found that 78 percent of high school teachers agree that digital technologies “encourage student creativity and personal expression.” (Stern). Woollven is among a much bigger group of teachers who believe digital writing has a positive impact on the development of students. It fosters creativity among students. However there are negatives that come with the constant reliance on digital writing. Students spelling and grammar suffer as a result. “According to the report, 40 percent say digital technology makes students more likely to use poor spelling and grammar, although 38 percent say it is “less likely” to cause those mistakes. There is also the effect of the speed of the new technologies. Forty-six percent of teachers said that digital tools have made students write too fast, causing mistakes and carelessness. “They are bombarded by so much and they are used to things quickly posting on social networks,” Woollven said. “They aren’t always thinking about revising.” (Stern). Even though there are many positives that come from having technology in the classroom, there are also negatives and this is an example of some of those negatives.
Not only have technologies made it easier to write in classroom environments, but also more enjoyable. In Paige Donahue’s post, Writing in Online and Multimedia Environments: Why Digital Writing Matters in Education, she talks about how digital writing has benefited students. According to a study that Donahue looked at, students highly value the opinion of their peers. Access to technology in education allows for collaboration and interconnectedness among students. “Online platforms like Google Drive inspire collaboration and team effort. Students can share more than just ideas, but also files that others can view and revise. With the help of peers and the facilitation of the educator as a guiding mentor, digital writing on such collaborative platforms can not only improve a student’s writing skills, but also widen their social network” (Donahue). Without digital writing, this is a much harder and longer task and often ends up discouraging students from collaborating with each other. Not only is digital writing and access to technology helpful for students, but also teachers as well. It allows teachers to give helpful timely feedback on assignments, which then benefits the student in the long run.
Similar to how Donahue says digital writing allows for collaboration, in Digital Writing Uprising: Third-Order Thinking in the Digital Humanities, Sean Michael Morris talks about digital writing being communal and only as important as its audience makes it. What makes digital writing different in Morris’s opinion is that they take on a life of their own. “But that the words themselves are active. They move, slither, creep, sprint, and outpace us. Digital words have lives of their own. We may write them, birth them ourselves, but without any compunction or notice, they enact themselves in ways we can’t predict. And this is because digital writing is communal writing.” (Morris). This community that digital writing fosters, also allows for the audience of the writing to interpret it however they want. This is done through comments, social media, and the Internet in general. The idea that digital writing is interpreted, rebuilt, refabricated, and repurposed by its audience is know as the third world order. “We are allowing meaning to come from meaningless” (Morris). When we write digitally it’s meaningless until our audience brings meaning and importance to it. It allows for there to be an overall communal collaboration in both positive and negative ways. The responses to writing aren’t always positive and this is evident in the comment sections on many posts online.
Following the theme of communal writing, in Organic Writing and Digital Media: Seeds and Organs, Pete Rorabaugh talks about digital writing as organic writing. “Digital environments maximize the potential for organic writing in three distinct ways: they rebuild “audience,” expose the organic layers of a composition, and invite outside participation in key stages along the way” (Rorabaugh). When Rorabaugh talks about organic writing he suggests that it begins with a seed or an idea and grows in unexpected ways. Based on whatever the seed is, it grows in a multitude of ways. This is due to the digital environments ability to allow peers to offer the feedback and critiques of each other’s writing. “Using the digital landscape to frame academic composition allows us to attend closely to that process and encourage research fluency and critical inquiry” (Rorabaugh). Digital writing fosters a communal environment where individuals can learn from each other in order to become better writers. Rorabaugh makes it clear that there is no right way for how ones writing should evolve. It all depends on the community around them.
The Role of Digital Writing in My Life
Digital writing has and will continue to play a major role in my experience not only at Dickinson, but beyond as well. Majoring in Political Science, with a possible minor in American Studies, writing is a huge part of the curriculum of most of the classes I have taken. Almost all of this writing is done through a digital platform. Whether it involves typing up an essay, peer editing, or using online sources, digital writing has allowed me to improve exponentially as a writer since first arriving at Dickinson. What makes digital writing such an effective tool for me and many other students is how accessible it is. It allows for writing to be done in a quick efficient form that allows for helpful feedback and critiques from either peers or professors. It also allows for access to an infinite amount of information on the Internet, which can then be translated and transformed into ones writing. This can also be done in non-digital forms; it’s just that digital writing allows for this process to be much easier and accessible.
Writing in and for the Digital Environments is a class that is offered here at Dickinson and is one that I am currently in. As the title of the course may suggest digital writing plays a major role in it. I think that out of all of the classes/experiences I have had so far with regards to digital writing, this has been the most influential one. The class has not only taught me a lot about the fundamentals behind digital writing, but also has given me the chance to use digital writing personally in the form of my own blog. This blog is one that is accessible to the public and that is something that I have not done before. Even though I write a lot for my classes, I would consider myself relatively shy when it comes to sharing my writing. When I heard that we would be creating blogs that would be accessible to everyone, I was a little intimidated. However as I have learned over the course of the semester, the only thing that changes when writing a blog is its audience. For me personally this makes me a little more aware of how I write both in terms of what I’m writing about as well as grammatical errors.
There are both positives and negatives to digital writing, both of which I have experienced. However in the long run digital writing is an extremely effective and important tool for people to have access too. It’s not only helpful in the classroom, but also in the workplace, in social settings, as well as many other instances. As I mentioned earlier, I think that digital writing has allowed me to progress significantly as a writer and I think it will continue to in the future beyond my time at Dickinson.
Donahue, Paige . “Writing in Online and Multimedia Environments: Why Digital Writing Matters in Education.” Association of American Educators, 18 May 2016, www.aaeteachers.org/index.php/blog/1634-writing-in-online-and-multimedia-environments-why-digital-writing-matters-in-education
Grabill, Jeff. “Why Digital Writing Matters in Education.” Edutopia, 11 June 2012, www.edutopia.org/blog/why-digital-writing-matters-jeff-grabill.
Michael Morris, Sean . “Digital Writing Uprising: Third-Order Thinking in the Digital Humanities.” Hybrid Pedagogy, 8 Oct. 2012, www.digitalpedagogylab.com/hybridped/digital-writing-uprising-third-order-thinking-in-the-digital-humanities/.
Rorabaugh, Pete . “Organic Writing and Digital Media: Seeds and Organs.” Hybrid Pedagogy, 21 June 2012, www.digitalpedagogylab.com/hybridped/organic-writing-and-digital-media-seeds-and-organs/.
Stern, Joanna. “Social Media Makes for Better Student Writing, Not Worse, Teachers Say.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 16 July 2013, abcnews.go.com/Technology/social-media-makes-student-writing-worse-teachers/story?id=19677570.