The Future of Writing

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.

The visual layout of the presentation was made using Prezi, and the video and audio were recorded using Jing. The voice you hear is none other than yours truly.

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.

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Watch the Universe Do the Rest

The following is partially based on a true story. Some of what follows is completely true, some is fictional. Certain details have been changed for the sake of creative license.

It was late in the night on a cold October evening.  I was at work, delivering pizzas in South Jersey, just as I did every Saturday night.  And just as I had been every Saturday night before this, I was bored.  My job was endless boredom.  Take a pizza, drive to someone’s house, get paid, go back to the store.  Repeat for eleven hours.

To pass the time, in between deliveries I checked my Twitter feed on my phone.  Usually I tweeted from the back room of the restaurant, while I was waiting for a pizza to finish cooking.  Over the last two months since I started on Twitter, I had started following over two hundred people.  On this particular cold Saturday night, I noticed an interesting series of tweets from one of them in particular, a certain Ksenia Anske:

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I was intrigued, as I often am, by Ksenia’s unique and humorous motivation techniques.  I decided to send her an ‘at reply,’ which resulted in the following exchange:

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It seemed as if I had no choice.  It was now a matter of pride.  But don’t they say that ‘Pride comes before the fall’?  I certainly didn’t want my pride to make me fall… off the chair and into the street.  I might get run over.

Yet sometimes one must face such fears.  Though I wanted to set a good, responsible example while doing so.  It would have been foolhardy of me to perform this daring act in the middle of a busy highway.

Instead, I chose a side street.  One close enough to the main roads that I could be sure my message would be heard, yet still far enough back that I would be safe from traffic and other hazards.  Once the street was chosen, I had another issue to face: I needed a chair.  Luckily, my restaurant has plenty of chairs, both in the dining room, and outside in our outdoor dining area.  I chose the latter for two reasons: one, it would be easier to sneak the chair away without my manager seeing me (I was still on the clock, mind you); and two, those chairs were of a more stable design, and I expected I’d be less likely to fall off of one.

I waited until I had a delivery, since it gave me an excuse to go outside.  The pizza was placed inside a thermal bag, and deposited on the passenger seat of my 2009 Toyota Prius.  I then snuck over to the outdoor dining area, snagged a chair, and tucked it away in the Prius’s hatchback.  All the pieces in place, I then proceeded to my destiny.

I drove down the block to the Chosen Place, and parked my car illegally in a fire zone, having no other immediately available options.  I wasn’t concerned about any consequences; the pizza delivery sign atop my car essentially granted me immunity to parking tickets.  I retrieved the chair from where it was stowed, and found a good spot to place it.  A bit jittery, my heart pounding, and my skin goosepimpling in the October wind, I climbed up on the chair.  My perch a bit wobbly, I spread my arms out for balance, then took a deep breath to steel my resolve.  Then, at last, the culmination of my efforts was achieved as I shouted out for all the universe (or at least, a one block radius around where I stood) to hear:

“I AM A WRITER!”

The universe responded in the form of a horn blaring at me, and a passing driver shouting at me to get out of the street.

My face flushed with heat, and I climbed down from the mountain peak and returned to my car.  My pride was now tempered by sheepishness, as I nervously looked around, hoping that no one I knew had actually seen me.  The moment had passed, but the adrenaline rush of it was carried with me as I delivered the next pizza, collected the money, and returned to the store.  It was my last delivery of the night before closing time, but it was also my most invigorating.

(Continue to: Part 2)

About

Hello, and welcome to Writing Possibilities.

This is a site dedicated to writing.  I call it ‘Writing Possibilities’ to reflect the fact that there are so many options for a writer to explore: fiction, nonfiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, songwriting, blogging, and a myriad of others.  While fiction is my first and truest love, I enjoy exploring all forms of writing and multiple genres, including fantasy, sci fi, mystery, drama, and almost anything else.

This site will contain writing in any and all of these forms.  The primary focus, at least in the beginning, will be an exploration in developing the lives of several characters who lead different paths in the same fictional world.  Each one will have their own separate and individual development, focus, and story, and while they live in the same world, it is possible that they may never cross paths.  This will be different from a traditional novel, in that each story will be developed independently, and each at its own pace (likely depending upon which character I have the most inspiration for at a given time).

Additionally, there will be a section for blog posts, another for my thoughts on the writing process, and others to come as time goes on and I see where my Muse takes me.

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