Writing has evolved tremendously over its 6,000 year history. No, I’m not talking about the evolution of language. I am not a diacrhonic linguist; I leave charting the changes and growth in language up to them. Writing has moved from carving on stone tablets to scratching on animal skin to using a quill and ink on parchment to ballpoint pens to the typerwriter to the computer. The ability to write (not just the spread of literacy) has grown exponentially because the technology of writing has so vastly improved. With graphite penciles, felt-tip and ballpoint pens, and the modern-day keyboard, the amount of time it takes to write out your thoughts has diminished vastly since writing’s inception. Back in the day, many writers employed a scribe who would write down what they said, because the process of writing out characters on a difficult surface was too time-consuming and diverted attention away from the words themselves. Today, many would-be writers face no such barriers. In fact, the barrier between writing and publication has practically shurnk to zero if you have a computer, a Internet connection, and a blog. At the end of writing this post, I will press “publish” and have shared my thoughts and writing with the world. All within an hour or less.
Seed magazine’s article, “A Writing Revolution” ( http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/a_writing_revolution/), charts the growth of authorship from 1400 to the present. Spoiler alert: the growthh as been exponential as Internet users tweet, post, and blog. Suddenly the spread of influence moves from how many people read your article/book in a sanctioned publication to anyone who stumbles upon your page. Everyone writes e-mails to groups, shares status updates on social networking sites, and posts videos and photographs of themselves. We live in what one might call a “participatory culture” (http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF) in which the ability to express and circulate one’s own work and thoughts is easy and simplified. Members of various groups (including wordpress) crowdsource information, learn from one another’s posts, and believe their contributions to the website’s content matters. Through these sites, people can share their writing easily and quickly. The standard roadblocks between composition and publication have all but disappeared so long as you have a will to write and feel encouraged to log in, type away, and hit “enter.” We follow one another’s blogs, subscribe to follow different users on facebook, etc. , so we believe that what we are writing and sharing is important, that others will read it and consider it.
This massive growth in influencing others through informal publishing is only an asset to encouraging the love of the written word. More and more as traditional writing and reading books is seen as too time-consuming and irrelevant, the explosion and outgrowth of personal publication is a way for budding writers and skeptical readers that the written word has concrete value. The fact that anyone can put their thoughts out their is a testament to how the world has simultaneously grown and shrunk as the global network becomes increasingly interconnected. Writing is the pleasure of transferring thought to word, and we are well to honor our literacy, both on paper and online.