We are in the middle of a writing revolution - everyone is doing it

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We are in the middle of a writing revolution - everyone is doing it

We often complain that so many people are taking to the net, making blogs, posting on social networking sites, communicating with text messages, all with the rationale that writing is getting worse because of these new publishers. But hang on, because so many more people are actually writing than ever before, as a society we are getting better at putting our thoughts online in written form.

Is a revolution, the biggest we have ever seen.

Andrea Lunsford is a professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford University, where she has organized a mammoth project called the Stanford Study of Writing to scrutinize college students' prose.

From 2001 to 2006, she collected 14,672 student writing samples—everything from in-class assignments, formal essays, and journal entries to emails, blog posts, and chat sessions. Her conclusions are stirring.
... Quote:
I think we're in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven't seen since Greek civilization . For Lunsford, technology isn't killing our ability to write. It's reviving it—and pushing our literacy in bold new directions.
she says.

The first thing she found is that young people today write far more than any generation before them. That's because so much socializing takes place online, and it almost always involves text. Of all the writing that the Stanford students did, a stunning 38 percent of it took place out of the classroom—life writing, as Lunsford calls it. Those Twitter updates and lists of 25 things about yourself add up.

It's almost hard to remember how big a paradigm shift this is. Before the Internet came along, most people never wrote anything, ever, that wasn't a school assignment. Unless they got a job that required producing text (like in law, advertising, or media), they'd leave school and virtually never construct a paragraph again.

But is this explosion of prose good, on a technical level? Yes. Lunsford's team found that the students were remarkably adept at what rhetoricians call kairos—assessing their audience and adapting their tone and technique to best get their point across. The modern world of online writing, particularly in chat and on discussion threads, is conversational and public, which makes it closer to the Greek tradition of argument than the asynchronous letter and essay writing of 50 years ago.

The fact that students today almost always write for an audience gives them a different sense of what constitutes good writing. The Stanford students were almost always less enthusiastic about their in-class writing because it had no audience but the professor: It didn't serve any purpose other than to get them a grade. As for those texting short-forms and smileys defiling serious academic writing? Another myth. When Lunsford examined the work of first-year students, she didn't find a single example of texting speak in an academic paper.

A very good exposition of the argument here http://www.salon.com/books/...

More here http://www.wired.com/techbi...
By netchicken: posted on 21-9-2009








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