Digital literate epoch

I’ve long argued that everything you write on Facebook or Twitter or some such social media platform should be considered “publishing.” Much like a newsroom staff, your mind and fingers are “publishing” this status update or that vaguely nihilistic riff or this inane story about how you spilled coffee all over the banana bread. It’s a process that ends with a publicly available creative work. My point, taken from my time in newsrooms, I guess, is that you’re presenting your writing/ideas to a certain marketplace. Act accordingly. Write (publish) with meaning and vision.

Needless to say, I don’t run into this kind of enticing forethought too often in the terrible cave of my Facebook news feed.

And so, anyway, I find this review of The Twittering Machine fairly helpful.

The Twittering Machine is powered by an insight at once obvious and underexplored: we have, in the world of the social industry, become ‘scripturient—possessed by a violent desire to write, incessantly.’ Our addiction to social media is, at its core, a compulsion to write. Through our comments, updates, DMs, and searches, we are volunteers in a great ‘collective writing experiment.’ Those of us who don’t peck out status updates on our keyboards are not exempt. We participate too, ‘behind our backs as it were,’ creating hidden (written) records of where we clicked, where we hovered, how far we scrolled, so that even reading, within the framework of the Twittering Machine, becomes a kind of writing. The rise of print, Seymour points out, played a crucial role in developing the idea of the modern nation, not to mention the bureaucratic state and ‘industrial civilization.’ Now that epoch is ending, and a new revolution in literacy is extending the ability to write in public to billions of people worldwide. What will our new digital-writing culture call into existence?”

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