The Internet Writing Renaissance

As far as I can tell the two most common Twitter complaints from non-adopters are as follows: 1.) “What’s the point?” and 2.) “I don’t have anything to say.”

I agree with both to some extent. Most updates on the site tend toward the banal. However, what’s fascinating about Twitter is not what Twitterers (Twits? Twitfolk?) are writing about, but the fact they are indeed writing.

As it turns out, we are in the middle of a writing renaissance. The internet has had an effect on authorship that, with regard to bringing the written word to a mass audience, surpasses that of the printing press.

“Since 1400, book authorship has grown nearly tenfold in each century. Currently, authorship, including books and new media, is growing nearly tenfold each year.” (SEED Magazine)

William Safire worried that the immediacy of online communication was obfuscating the English language, turning thoughtful sentences into collections of emoticons and nonsense abbreviations. While this might be true in the present, the sheer volume of new writers populating the internet with their writing is likely to produce better work in the long run. The computer, the internet – what we once imagined to be the death of the written word may be its savior.

In 1990, at age 70, Charles Bukowski began writing on a Macintosh Ilsi computer. The beat writer, never afraid of a little experimentation, took to it quickly:

“There is something about seeing your words on a screen before you that makes you send the word with a better bite, sighted in closer to the target. I know a computer can’t make a writer but I think it makes a writer better. Simplicity in writing and simplicity in getting it down, hot and real.”

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