Language not only differs from place to place, time to time, and people to people, but also from format to format. What do I mean? The style of language one uses in a text message for example is different than the style of language one uses in an essay (obviously). The same also applies to when we write on websites like Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and other online social media outlets. Normally, how we write on paper, say for a research paper for instance, is far more in depth than how we write on our personal blogs, which are much more direct and short in nature. The issue is, as we get more and more submerged in technological and technical writing because it surrounds us in so many ways and is how our generation connects with one another, our academic writing is being not only affected, but I’d say degraded.
For instance, how many peoples’ spelling has been deteriorated because of tools such as autocorrect on phones and websites? There is no doubt that it is being negatively affected as people complain that they don’t spell as well as they used to. As a matter of fact, I have the same complaint because I see a blatant negative effect that this feature has had on me. I used to be able to think hard enough if I got stuck at the spelling of a word and get it, whereas now I remain more in confusion. The question then becomes, where is the healthy balance between academics and technology? For instance, at this point in time, when the world continuously takes giant technological leaps forward, can we really get rid of this important feature (autocorrect) for the sake of improving our spelling? Or should we keep it and lose this traditional and vital skill? The reality is whether we like it or not, it’s going to stay so in a battle between technology and tradition, technology wins. But, is this necessary a bad thing, or is our writing evolving?
I’ve heard from different professors that making movies is like writing. You have an audience that you need to keep in mind, you have to be coherent in your transitions, you need a “peak” at one point or another along with an intro and ending, you need rich imagery, and much more. In these ways it is quite similar to traditional written expression, but what about constructing a thesis and carrying out that idea using supporting textual evidence? What about utilizing effective word choice and having words themselves paint a picture for the audience? Is it thus really more similar than it is different? Moreover, as our writing continues to deteriorate – yet improve in other formats and other ways (Tumblr, making movies, etc)—should we adjust to this deterioration by increasingly bringing media into our way of expression or should we abide by traditional written expression and continue to try improving on it?
For me, the answer is a healthy combination of both. Though words alone can often be beyond effective in conveying ideas and messages, using supplementary images (for instance) can be an added bonus for both you and the reader. I also think to stay “ahead” or “keep up” with the rest of the world, we need to find ways to incorporate technology and media into our classrooms and academics in a smart and helpful, not deconstructive, manner. I think magazine apps, like that of WIRED for example, offer a great combination of the old and the new because they use traditional (and smart) writing whilst incorporating moving (and cool) media images. It’s fresh yet intelligent.
What do you think? Should we stick with the old and get rid of the new or vice versa? Or should we combine the best of both worlds?
Also, here’s a fairly short narrative of how one person has been affected by technology in his writing:
How have you been affected?