The following is a presentation originally created for a class at Rowan University. The assignment, created by Professor Bill Wolff, was to analyze various aspects of writing in the digital age. The presentation was then done using a mixture of text, images, audio, and video, making it a prime example of the versatility of new media in the current era.
Images in the presentation are a combination of screenshots of my own work, creative commons images, and screenshots of TED videos. Additionally, since the work was created for a class, it falls under Fair Use Guidelines and within the exemptions to DMCA Section 1201 rules announced by the Library of Congress on July 26, 2010.
You can view the presentation in its entirety here. Below is the written transcript of the recording:
At its core, I believe that writing is communication. Whether a writer wishes to tell a story, share personal details about themselves, educate others, or simply entertain, writing is a means of expressing those thoughts and ideas so that others can receive them. In the past, the written word was simply one of the most effective and long-lasting ways of doing so. Unlike speech, writing could be transported across distances and time, allowing a message to be shared with a much broader audience. Given enough time, a profound work could be spread across the whole world. However, the advancements of technology today have changed the way communication takes place. It has first changed the power of the written word, allowing it to be transferred more quickly and to a much broader audience. In addition, it has given us the means to share images and voices across distances and time, in a way that only the written word could be shared in the past.
In order to ‘be a writer,’ and to do so successfully, one must consider how this communication takes place. Technology has granted us a wide variety of mediums we can use to share thoughts and ideas, but a writer needs to understand the advantages and limitations of them in order to utilize them properly. One must also understand one’s audience, and how, when, and where that audience will receive one’s message. In the past, the audience was simply readers, and a writer knew that they wouldn’t receive the written message until after a work had been written, revised, published, and distributed. Now, however, many written forms allow for immediate online publication to a broad audience, who can access the work from anywhere in the world. The advent of smartphones takes this a step further, allowing users to access media anywhere, not just from home. No longer do they need to await distribution, or go to a bookstore or library in order to access a work.
Writers who are aware of this will understand that their writing can prompt immediate feedback, whether that be in the number of ‘likes’ a page receives, or in comments added directly to an online work. They also need to understand the current interconnected nature of writing, where online spaces are powered by links that connect a writer’s work to other places. This can be in the form of linking from one’s own writing directly to other things that are referenced in the work, or in the form of linking to other parts of one’s own site in order to help a reader navigate.
To be successful in this digital age of writing, a writer must also understand what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ in their writing. An understanding of html coding, linking, embedding, images, and videos will help a writer to sculpt a more versatile environment, which in turn will allow them to better get their message across. They must also understand how to connect these things, such as combining videos with voice-overs, or inserting images into the appropriate places in their text. Without proper use of these tools, online writing can be seen as sloppy and amateurish.
The future of writing is no doubt going to bring this interconnectivity to even greater levels. The more tools we develop, and the more ways we have of sharing information around the world, the more a writer will need to know about the tools that exist, the effect they have, and the methods needed to use them properly. These tools will likely include new interfaces, allowing a writer to create their words without the need to type, such as can already be seen with voice recognition software today. They will also include new ways to link information, connecting not just web pages but entire ideas together in new forms. We can already embed links into photos and videos, and soon they might be able to connect on even deeper levels. We do need to stay aware of the potential pitfalls, since the links that surround us may include restrictions and limitations, filtering out content, including that which we create. But on the other hand, the ability to reach out across such a broad scale is something unmatched by anything that we’ve seen before.