Seeing as I am always writing for this blog – and many other online mediums – I find it of virtue to discuss this topic of writing, the internet and technology for a change of pace; as technology has certainly impacted the 21st century writer in numerous different ways. So for a different flavor of a blog post, today let’s examine just what those implications are, and how they affect writers like me and others during the present day.
More technological advancements have been made over the past twenty years than in the two hundred years or so that preceded them. The 90s dotcom boom really did change everything for the modern day writer, as did the innovations that were procured through the advancements of computers and word processing software, and the way that the Internet changed the writing metric forever. Soon after the 90s, paper mediums began to slowly lessen in their popularity, as electronic information sharing steadily took over the way that words, the news, social interaction and even personal communications like emailing, were conducted (now paper mail is called “snail mail” and most companies offer “green” e-billing to reduce paper usage). Indeed, technology has impacted the modern day writer on many different fronts, both positively and negatively, and its implications shouldn’t be overlooked.
Pros of Technology
The Internet has Catapulted this Industry to New Echelons
The arrival of the World Wide Web – the information superhighway – has ushered in a new realm for writers of all mediums, and entities that bring such works to the mainstream. Newspapers are now going broke in efforts to stay competitive with online news sources. E-books are quickly becoming the new medium, along with some innovative e-book readers, like Amazon’s Kindle. And even major bookstores chains are feeling the technological squeeze; Borders recently filed for Chapter 11 protection due to the lack of paper books being sold during the modern day, and is planning on shuddering hundreds of stores nationwide. In short: The Internet has enacted sweeping changes to the ways that writers – and publishers – used to do things. But this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Word Processing Software Streamlines the Composition Process
Similar to how video killed the radio star, computers and word processing software did away with the typewriter. No longer must writers change out ink rolls, use White Out to correct errors or even worry about misspelling a word. Rather, they can use state-of-the-art software that allows for them to more easily and more accurately compose anything. Such software applications have greatly enhanced the way that writers can work and have made the process far more efficient.
Popular Content Management Systems Enable Efficiency
Now writers can work in virtual worldwide networks thanks to innovative content management systems such as Blogger, Drupal, WordPress and others. With more and more writers working from out of their homes, such systems allow for them to easily compose, edit and submit their works to editors in real time. These unique content management systems are also equipped with many of the desirable features that the popular word processors offer; such as spell checkers and image and text formatting options.
Cons of Technology
The Dreaded Hourglass Syndrome is a Reality for Some Writers
While computers have advanced rapidly, most writers – and most people – don’t own the latest and greatest thing. Computer sluggishness is a large problem for many writers. An April 2010 report on this that was conducted by Reuters concluded that, “66 percent of computer users are at least somewhat stressed by slow-poke technology and 23 percent described themselves as very or extremely stressed.”
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Has Impacted Content Needs
Search engine optimization is at the forefront of writing – with the very rare exceptions of journalists and book writers. Now writers have to keep in mind that they need to add relevant keywords to their pieces, and ensure that they are SEO-friendly so that the major search engines pick them up and index them. Similarly, for many article writers, spinning articles, or rewriting the same article several different times for search engine optimization, has made the process seem more redundant and boring.
Those Who Don’t Stay Abreast Are Quickly Left Behind
With technology changing so rapidly, one has to be quick on their toes, lest they be left behind in the dust. This is especially apparent for freelance writers, who usually write much web-based or SEO-friendly content. If they don’t keep up to par with today’s standards and practices, they could find themselves out of clients rather quickly for failure to adapt to these constantly changing content requirements.