Blog Writing

Writing for the new media

I was talking the other day about getting clear on the container or the medium that we’re writing for before we start to write. It reminded me about another set of questions that’s been buzzing around my brain recently about the kind of containers the new or social media provide for our words and what if any changes we need to make to the way that we write in order to match them.

There’s learning how to write with comments and conversation in mind – getting down off the podium and leaving space for our readers.

And then there’s how we approach those conversations that follow. The immediacy and intimacy of the web makes it easy for conversations to flow – but although people might be dashing off a quick ‘throwaway’ comment or two are they also thinking about the fact that they’re leaving a permanent record with their words? I don’t want to put people off commenting – I love to give, receive and read comments – but I do think we need to learn (and teach) something about taking responsibility for our words, however fleeting the medium may seem.

A lot of these conversations are taking place through the medium of the written word – but is that likely to shift in the age of conversation, with the possibilities of accessing and using photography, video, audio – and combinations of all of them. Where’s that going to leave the written word – and what skills do writers need to learn in order to keep up?

On the other hand… if readers (and web-site owners) are looking for sticky sites – does that promote the value of content (written content?) over other design features? And how much is the look of a blog based site going to matter if the majority of people end up reading them through feeds anyway?

Oh but then there’s the whole question of how people find you in the first place, and if that’s through search engines (and is learning to write for them good or bad for the way that we write and the kind of quality copy we’re trying to produce for our readers) or will it turn out to be through our use of social media networks instead? And what does spending time there mean for the way that we write? Is it just so much twittering or learning how to express ourselves – clearly – in 140 characters?

And I suppose moving on from that – is there a next big thing beyond blogging that those of who love this medium can’t yet or don’t want to see – that’s going to value a different set of skills, a different way of communicating and sharing ideas? Or is the written word here to stay as the basis for quality conversation?

I have a lot more questions than answers here – so I’d love to hear your thoughts – oh and if there are any new media experts (like Chris Garrett for example) out there listening – why not pop by and share your perspective too?

Chris Garrett is offering his readers a free guest post - it’s designed to help boost his Technorati rankings but it’s a win win for his readers (and in turn for our readers) as we get to enjoy his quality copy on a whole variety of issues. This post was inspired by his invitation - but it does reflect a lot of the issues and questions that I’ve been turning over and that have big implications for the way we write. So the questions aren’t just aimed at Chris - but you too. What do you think?

UPDATE: Check out this response from The Idea Dude - The Dawn of the Age of Conversation

Joanna Young, The Confident Writing Coach
Because our words count

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4 Responses to “Writing for the new media”

  1. On October 5, 2007 at 1:37 pm Brad Shorr responded with... #

    Hi Joanna, online photography, video, and audio aren’t the first technologies to challenge the written word. If reading can survive radio and TV, it must be a pretty important part of being human. We must be wired to read. When cell phones first came out, I wondered if they would be the end of letter writing. Yet it’s turned out that the hottest thing going in cellular technology is text messaging.

  2. On October 5, 2007 at 2:51 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hi Brad

    You know your comment makes me feel a little old and Luddite-like… because text messaging for me is nothing like writing - or reading. Just something that takes me far too long, makes me cross and thumb tied. (I guess some people feel like that about writing though!)

    Thanks for your note of optimism anyway


  3. On October 6, 2007 at 10:37 pm Vernon Lun responded with... #

    Hi Joanna,

    Great questions I ask myself everyday too. I think the written word will remain (that’s why we need terrific writing coaches like you!), the question is more about what will be the medium.

    I think blogs will eventually give way to something else although why we blog will always remain, but it will probably become a page in our menu instead of the whole webpage.


  4. On October 7, 2007 at 11:02 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hi Vernon, it’s good to talk to you over here!

    I think they’ll inevitably give way to something else too - and as you say maybe as part of a move towards integration of other aspects of our online presence.

    It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out though - and maybe to try and shape it too…



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