If you normally write with a pen and a piece of paper, does your writing change when you sit down to type at a keyboard? Or a cell phone? In the past, I used to run my own little experiments, sitting down with a piece of paper to write short stories (or bits of short stories) and then comparing those to stories written when sitting in front of a computer. Almost always, my thoughts were more fluid and coherent when writing at my computer. Sentences were longer, and I tended to write in longer stretches, with the end result that story sections seemed to be more complete. I'm still not sure exactly why this is, but I have some ideas. First of all, I'm left handed, and I write very slowly, with a death-grip on my pen, which means that it is physically painful for me to write for long periods of time. It's likely that this distraction, and the slow speed at which I'm able to translate my thoughts, prevent me from writing my best, because my body can't keep up with my ideas. Second, because I'm using my left hand, I believe that a very specific part of my brain (the right brain) is strongly engaged with the material going down onto the paper. When I type at a keyboard, I'm using both hands, and I believe that this physical process engages my brain differently--and in my case, more efficiently.
The direction of technology and media seems to be pushing us toward a new kind of orality, with video, podcasts, and very short messages (from text messages, Twitter, or Facebook) changing our primary channels for taking in information. Technologies like text-to-speech, and speech recognition, seem to be speeding this transition toward a more orally-driven culture, and I wonder how this affects the way we write.
What I find most interesting is the splintering into many different formats that are nothing like one-another. Take, for example, text messaging, a system that practically forbids punctuation and complete thoughts, and then compare that to videos on YouTube, which can be very professional and thought-provoking.
Have you noticed how your writing style changes when you're texting? Or posting to Twitter? Or maybe even writing a blog post?
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