The New Literacy

Clive Thompson has an article over at Wired.com that hints reports of the death of writing may have been greatly exaggerated.

Before the Internet came along, most Americans 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.

Nowadays a lot of folks are socializing online as often as (if not more often than) they meet in person, and this means text messages, Facebook, Twitter. Indeed, as Thompson mentions, those tweets add up. People are writing to each other about their lives all the time, and many of them haven’t bought a postage stamp in years. The proliferation of computer keyboards may have placed proper handwriting on the endangered species list, but apparently writing-slash-storytelling has never been more popular—even if it’s “just” tweets, blogs, or text messages. Kind of makes you wonder, though, if the trend will continue if and when effective video chat becomes the norm. Somehow, though, I don’t think a video call can ever replace the eloquence of a simple text—preferably something with the word “fuck” in it—explaining to your boss that you can’t come in to work today because you “have a cold”—when really you’re up to your elbows in lovin’.

(There’s a nice little mental image for you.)