The way we write
June 6, 2009 by librarykris
This year the Auckland Museum has been running a series of evening events called “LATE at the Museum.” Each LATE “features enlivening discussion on contemporary themes, with bands and DJs performing in the Museum’s galleries.” The June theme was “Our Virtual Identity.”
The soundbite that captured my attention came from Russell Brown of Public Address and Media 7. He was countering a point someone else had made which was essentially ‘The internet is making us stupid.’ Brown disagreed. While moderating the discussion board and comments at Public address he had realised that the individuals in the community had to be prepared to defend their arguments; they had to be smart about what they wrote and how they wrote it. He said that they were ‘known by their prose’.
It seems that on the internet noone cares if you’re a dog as long as you can string a decent sentence together. Rather than the increase of online multimedia being the death of writing it’s turning out to be the opposite. I guess it should have been obvious to me – popular social networking sites e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Bebo are mostly based on textual interaction. The latest news from Google supports this idea.
Last week they released information about their new communication/documentation/conversation protocol – Google Wave. It is still under development with release expected later this year.
The video is over an hour long so here’s a quick rundown on what you’ll be able to do with Google Wave:
You and your Wave colleagues will be able to collaboratively create a document, with easy embeds of the links to your supporting evidence from a variety of sources, while simultaneously having a conversation about the weather, updating your Twitter acount and sharing a YouTube video, then stripping out all the conversational aspects of the Wave and publishing a clean copy to your blog all while each of you is using a different browser and different software and different devices. This happens in real-time with character by character updating (as long as you are all connected to the internet.)
If everyone has a virtual presence that is mainly represented by what they write when they write it, then writing skills will be more important in the future than they are today. The literacy support role that libraries play will be highlighted. Libraries can provide resources to encourage development of reading and writing skills in people of all ages.
It’s impossible to say how much impact Google Wave will have. I find the concepts in the application both incredibly simple and horrendously complicated. Even the developers say that they are discovering new ways to use it each day.
Everything changes; everything stays the same…? What do you think?