Tuesday, May 7, 2013



 Highly sophisticated technology and one of the oldest means of human communication, the written word, continue to be inextricably entwined, expanding side by side like the proverbial odd couple.

 Verbal communication has evolved at light speed, with talking on the spot seemingly dominating how we communicate. After all, we have Skype, face-to-face talks on fancy phones, “Go To Meetings” for job-related face-to-face discussions, Instagram how-to videos, and TED webinars. People are ubiquitously seeing and speaking to one another on screens in real time, whether it’s for high-stakes negotiations, cutting a business deal with someone on the other side of the globe, catching up with friends and family, or simply having a laid-back chat. We have voice recognition and robots, with people at a distance telling drones, space travelers, and other non-humans in algorithmic messages what to do. Also, camera phones’ pictures, as they say, “are worth a thousand words.”

 But just as pundits predicted the end of books we hold in our hands when Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers saturated the market, the written word—written by us individually or collectively, written in complete sentences, paragraphs, and pages—has not fallen into the realm of dodo birds and dinosaurs. If anything, the written word, created and disseminated by human hands (with the aid of technology) has continued to thrive and expand its reach. And, at least with the truncated writing in Twitter and texting, millions of people who might not have composed written communications beyond their school years and job-related documents, are engaging in daily person-to-person writing.

Utilitarian Websites: A Modern Necessity

 The majority of reputable businesses interested in “branding” themselves, in having an “internet presence,” a “profile” in their business domain, establish and maintain a website. Individuals who are themselves “the business”—independent consultants, authors, lecturers, life coaches, private teachers and tutors, for example—also increasingly tout their work on professional websites. Technology and the old-fashioned primo communication tool, writing, are like a pair of gloves. You can’t have one without the other.

 Whether websites are maintained by the owners themselves, or by webmasters, the ability to write clear, attractive, compelling prose, to communicate in a friendly, accessible manner with clients or potential clients, can make the difference between a business that thrives and one that stagnates. Technology has enabled websites to have bells and whistles, photos, music, videos, and interactive gizmos, that a simple written document lacks, but it’s the written words on the page that work their magic and help a business succeed.

 Citizen Journalists: Bloggers with a Cause

 Ever heard of The Huffington Post, or Huff Post? Created in 2005 by famed blogger/commentator Arianna Huffington and three other blogger columnists, the Huff Post has been called the most powerful news source in the world and, in 2012, became the first commercial online newspaper to win a Pultizer Prize, the most prestigious writing award in the U.S. It grew exponentially and has garnered numerous awards, including the #1 rank out of 15 top-ranked political websites in America.

Thousands of bloggers write columns and articles for the site without compensation, just for the opportunity to be published. Also, prominent experts in varied fields regularly contribute blogs and columns. Each month, over a million comments are written by readers and posted to Huff Post. The Huff Post is the poster child for the rise and success of the written word on digital media, as well as the engagement of the international public to write commentary on hot topics the digital newspaper covers.

 Admittedly, the Huff Post is an anomaly, with its astonishing success. But bloggers like you and me have staked out territories in cyberspace and regularly dish on topics ranging from the small and insignificant but personally appealing, to the more momentous issues that well-known blogs cover. Political issues are routinely debated and dissected by “citizen journalists” in their blogs and websites all across America. These “journalists” are writing about topics, issues, and events that were once monopolized by the “mainstream media” (long-established newspapers and broadcast media; also called “MSM”) who, prior to the internet, had sole proprietorship of media information as gatekeepers of what news got reported, when, where, and how. Citizen journalists, in fact, sometimes beat the MSM to the punch in discovering and uncovering vital news events and information and capturing the attention of the nation.

 We no longer just rely on the MSM as our eyes and ears on what’s happening. The people’s eyes and ears collectively, via technology coupled with the people’s writing, have become our conduit to keeping up with the world. The sociopolitical landscape has thus shifted tremendously since websites, blogs, and citizen journalists exploded onto the scene...and throughout the scene.

 Social Media: The Written Word Flourishes

Though they are sometimes minimized in importance, perhaps due to their brevity and greater focus on the personal rather than on gravitas, the “social media”—Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, My Space, Tumblr, and the many other venues for expression—have fingers flying and people writing daily, often throughout the day in fits and spurts. Whether it’s a coughed-out phrase, emotional protestations of love, terse political commentary, or invitations to engage, the social media cast their nets wide, and wider, across the globe.

In the 21st century, our communication is like a pair of gloves: technology, with its gee-whiz alacrity and ability to wow; and the old-fashioned written compositions we each hammer together with our fingers and hands and our own brains. Put these two seemingly-mismatched gloves together, and you have human interaction that has something for everyone: the visual, the oral, and the best of both worlds.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree. Technology and the written word...so much has changed....I remember typewriters in middle school and high school.