Is Pen and Paper Slowly Being Replaced By Digital Content?

When I was young and learning to write, I was always told to write down my ideas, thoughts and stories. I filled journals with ideas that were interesting to me, never thinking about who might read what I wrote. When I think of writing, the first thing that comes to mind is an old-fashioned pencil and notebook. “With writing come materials: those we inscribe with and on, such as pens, paper, documents, and books; and the places in which writing happens- a study at home, desks in the classrooms, in a library” (Dush, 179). I guess I thought this is what a writer does, expresses themselves through written content; however, in the article, When Writing Becomes Content, Lisa Dush discusses the difference between writing and content. She explains how the way people read and write has transformed and has become important in the digital format.

In the article, Lisa Dush does a nice job clarifying content through four characteristics. The first characteristic she talks about is conditional writing. Conditional writing is when someone thinks about what could happen to their writing once it is out there for the world to see. For example, they may wonder who may end up seeing their pieces and viewing it. Once the writing is published computable writing comes in. Computable writing means writing that will be read by non-humans. This is meaning it will be an algorithm and will rank the audience that best fits the writing. Network writing is next, and this is when the algorithm will connect the best audience to the piece of writing. The last characteristic is commodified writing, and that is when it is commercialized and marketed to a certain audience who will find some value in it. The value in the writing would be if it is profitable or not. “For example, in networked space, a video or a tweet is judged not on whether it communicates very useful information (its use value), but rather on the number of clicks and retweets it accumulates (its exchange value, rendered as ad revenue or brand ranch)” (Dush, 178). Lisa Dush did a great job explaining how these characteristics are a part of the new digital content writing. There is no way of avoiding content writing. Digital writing has taken over and it is here to stay. I agree with her when she goes into detail explaining her reasoning. The second you google anything, algorithm is already running.

Writing is unavoidable, everything you do requires writing. The idea that writing will be assessed by algorithms and networked to those who might read writing leads me to believe that my writing needs to focus what Dush calls “writing with an awareness of writing-as-content, [digital writing.]” I agree with Dush’s idea that digital writing cannot be avoided. I know digital writing has an impact on what I read, so it needs to impact the way I write. For example, when I search a topic on the internet, these algorithms are at work, and “ignoring writing content risks missed opportunities for growth” (183). We are living in a digital age and our writing needs to follow it.

            An important question is how will career writing change? This is an important question that comes to mind. Dush worries that writing may be devalued, and writers will move to “content created jobs where they are expected to be hooked into their employer’s social media channels nearly 24-7” (Dush, 191). She feels this may not be sustainable; yet she discusses two ideas to prepare writers for this change. One idea is to teach writing as content. Content writing needs to be taught and it needs to be perfected. She also feels that teaching content related concepts and marketing writing with a “wide range of genres across a wide range of media” (Dush, 185) will make it computable and networkable. Dush then proceeds to talk about how there are four core strategies to this. It is called the content components and is split into four sections. Two components focus on content. Through substance and structure content is developed and “denotes attention to what messages the organization’s content should communicate, in what genres and medias” (Dush, 186). The other two components focus on the people. Through workflow, content can be assessed in social situations and through governance the policies and the tools in the writings can be chosen.  

Picture above shows the “Core Strategy” actual photo can be found here.

            I will be ending on the note stating that I do not agree with Dush when she says, “The endgame for aspiring writers may be that writing is not a feasible profession, that writing becomes something one does for free, which has obvious implications about who can write” (Dush, 191). I do not agree that aspiring writers cannot create a feasible profession with writing; however, I do agree that writing is changing. Every single career involves writing, and writing is an important way we communicate. Yes, the digital world is huge, and it is impacting the way we write, but in almost every career path you are writing as a profession.

            Although, writing is not my chosen career path, writing will be an important part of my career, just as it is in any career. After reading this article, I understand how my content it opened up my mind on how important content writing will be for me in my field. Content writing is going to a part of all career paths.

Dush, L. (2015). When Writing Becomes Content. National Council of Teachers of English. Pg. 173-193.