The Revolution of Connectivity

To most people, the word “writing” means words on paper, prose in sentences and paragraphs. And from this perspective, computers (or any technology) are incidental to writing, simply a means of producing it but not actually part of the art of writing. But not to us. Not to folks in the field of rhetoric and composition and especially not to folks in the field of computers and writing. We reject the idea that writing equals style, syntax, coherence, and organization—meaning at the level of the sentence and the paragraph. And we reject the idea that all writing is the same, whether it is produced with a pencil, a typewriter, or a networked computer.

From Kairos 10:1 “Why Teach Digital Writing” by the WIDE Research Collective

I guess I have lived through enough web revolutions to be a little skeptical whenever someone makes sweeping claims for the impact of new technology. Still, the W.R.C. makes a strong case that writing is becoming more complicated and nuanced than ever before, simply because there is more of it in more kinds of media.

The really interesting uses of these new technologies are the mash-ups, clever scripts that combine a variety of different sources of information into useful new forms or formats. Some are general, others very specific. TechPresident, for example, harvests information from all of the social networking sites related to the presidential campaign.

TechPresident has statistics, for example, on which candidate has the most friends in MySpace, or whose videos are watched most often on YouTube.
If you want to spend a few (hours) minutes exploring reviewing the good, the bad, and the ugly among these new web 2.0 tools you can start at

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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