Hi! I'm Tanner.

I'm a software engineer at Apple. I write here occassionally.

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Writing by Digitalists

Yes, I just created a new word there - “digitalists”. It is basically the same as a digital native, one who is more technologically suited than the previous generations (i.e. they have always had technology available). I kinda got bored of saying “digital native” over and over again as well.

Anywho, I wanted to write about how communication in the digital age has changed. Now, you might not think it has - writing is writing isn’t it? Well, not exactly. As I am writing this blog post I am writing it on my laptop which has a QWERTY keyboard (I know, I know…) rather than writing with a ole’ pencil on a sheet of paper. Still writing is writing is it not? I’m still simply recording thoughts on some medium.

So, besides the actual process of writing, what else has changed? Looking at a few articles assigned to us to read for ENGL 1101, writing is apparently really different with today’s digital natives. I say “apparently” because I really am surprised that the way we write on our digital devices (i.e. phones, computers, games, etc…) is affecting formal writing. A quote from “Does texting hurt writing skills?” from TimesDaily.com really was an eye-opener to me on how much the digital style of writing is impacting formal writing:

Among the 64 percent of students who say they incorporated text language in their writing, 25 percent said they did so to convey emotion and 38 percent said they have used text shortcuts such as “LOL” meaning “laugh out loud.”…“I might use the number 2 instead of spelling out “to”, or for the word “into” I might write n2,” she said. “But I don’t use slang terms like LOL or BTW (by the way). My mom would definitely not appreciate that.”

I find it quite surprising that anyone would be able to write like this - with seemingly mobile or “1337” speak in their professional papers. During class quite a few people found it quite surprising what was written in the article and kind of immediately did not believe that people would do this. Earlier before I came to class I felt like I should email a few of my old English teachers to see if they had seen any students do this in their papers. I cannot imagine doing such things in my papers.

Another topic we talked about in class is that if the idea of writing casually at all either online or on our phones affected how we wrote. I would say very, very few if any people, if I remember correctly, said that their professional writing in school has been affected by their writing styles outside of school. Gives the interesting idea that my class’s specific generation is able to differentiate between what is allowed to go in a paper or not? Does my generation respect school writing in such a way that the new generation of teens do not? Is there something else going on?

The answer is that I don’t know any answers to any of these questions. I don’t think we will ever know the answers to the questions. Society and a generation is something very hard to analyze especially when you have to consider there are many other factors such as the school, cell phone usage, parents, teachers, and so many other things that could have an influence on how a teen writes. I do think that this article gives a bit of quantitative data that in a way helps decipher an answer.

Perhaps we may never know the answer to the fundamental question of “Why?”.