Clive Thompson on the New Literacy makes the increased use of technology in writing seem promising, with its claims that young people today are writing more than ever due to the growing use of online writing as a social outlet. The cited study led by Andrea Lundsford at Stanford indicated that students were if anything becoming more adept in conveying their thoughts to their intended audience. The study seemed to indicate that the introduction of technological mediums for writing have diversified writing, and that even today’s abbreviated texts have their value in conveying concise messages ( though when the article likened them to haiku, it may have been reaching a bit far). I find myself slightly skeptical of all of this promise.
While I don’t doubt that there is some amount of value in the increased use of writing that comes along with this “new literacy’, and I acknowledge that not all online writing is limited to Twitter updates ( What would I do if I didn’t have an forum on which to learn about how much my boyfriend’s 17 year old sister liked her salad?), I don’t doubt that there is some negative transference into academic prose. I don’t know that students at one of the most prestigious universities in the country are necessarily representative of most of their generation. Also, as one commenter pointed out these people who were 18 between 2001 and 2006 (I’m one of them), aren’t really the people to be worried about. A lot of our literacy practices were formed in that era of the internet where we still unplugged our phones and school computer labs taught basic. What about people who are 18 now? 16 now?
I’m not sure that expert use of Facebook status updates translates into any sort of academic/professional context. That having been said writing is writing, and any practice is better than none, and their are of course many credible and valuable ways to employ writing on the internet. To point to my own experience, I’d like to address Moodle/Ilearn. Implementing the Seven Principles gives a pretty direct outline of how information technologies have advanced the teaching and education, especially in its promotion of communication.