Digital Writing and the online Community

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. 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.

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.


Works Cited

DeVoss, Danielle Nicole. Because Digital Writing Matters: Improving Student Writing in Online and Multimedia Environments. John Wiley & Sons, 2010, 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,

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,

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.



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