An Exploration of Digital Writing

From Prehistoric cave paintings to stories told over a campfire, from papyrus scrolls and scarlet letters to Not-So-Anonymous Twitter Rants, the way we communicate has grown and changed overtime, especially with the introduction of technology. We are leaving our digital footprint through new forms of writing, Digital Writing. According to Why Digital Writing Matters, Digital Writing is defined as “compositions created with, and oftentimes for reading or viewing on, a computer or other device that is connected to the Internet.”.

Both celebrated and ridiculed, Digital Writing is an important part of our lives, for writers both old and new, and no one has more to say about it than our parents.

Overall, Parents view Digital Writing activities such as, putting together PowerPoint Presentations, completing homework assignments on their PCs, creating Web pages, and writing blogs as academically and professionally beneficial in connection to the growth of their children as writers. On the other hand, they seem to find inherently Social and digi-community based Digital Writing activities such as, instant messaging (also known as DMing and texting for the teenyboppers) and Social Media usage, as harmful to the attention spans and ripe young minds of their children. For instance, they believe that texting and PC usage can ruin the grammar and vocabulary of their kids. I think that it’s an understandable concern but there also is a generational barrier, much like ebonics, the internet has it its own language and slang ( most of which stems and is appropriated from black culture, but that’s another conversation), parents weren’t meant to understand as outsiders to the growing digital community. A tale as old as time, the generational gap still remains, with millennials in the middle of it of all.

Despite a few of the parental reservations, we can all agree Digital Writing matters.

Digital Writing matters because it gives us a platform to cultivate and demand social, political, and economic change, promote creativity and individuality, offers us a sense of community, it gives us a chance to self-start and build professional brands, and allows us to find our own voice. Ultimately, all of this helps us to become better writers and communicators.

In terms of both my own personal and professional experience, Digital Writing is extremely important. It’s how we stay connected. Even when at times it feels as though our phones create some sort of external divide and social barrier, it still maintains to keep us together. Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram not only allows us to connect with family and friends, but it also allows us to connect with complete strangers across the globe! It allows for a makeshift community. I’ve been able to utilize Facebook’s platform to network with other Black creatives and Filmmakers to advance and learn professionally, not mention fangirl about television shows and ships from Netflix’s Umbrella Academy to revived fandoms like Glee’s Gleeks (not that I claim i’m a Gleek — I am.). Digital Writing allows us to gain a sense of community.

Digital Writing offers us an efficient way to advocate and inform. Through Hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter , #MeToo, #SayHerName and many more on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. People whose voices have been historically silenced and muted have a chance to lead the conversation and share their stories. Recently, this has been to the point of being able to enact real palpable change, from starting social justice movements to getting laws and policies put in place to protect those that need protecting. It’s astounding how much a retweet, like and comment can do.

The internet is always changing, and we, along with how we consume and what we choose to consume, change with it. One of the biggest indicators and curators of culture is Hollywood entertainment and media. Film and Television continues to reflect and examine cultural trends, at the forefront of innovation. Some of these changes and cultural trends include, according to Newman’s Forbes article on the Top Six Digital Transformation Trends in Media and Entertainment, The normalization of the multichannel-experience (Live-tweeting reactions), an increase in streaming (Hulu and Netflix at the forefront, but other companies, such as HBO Max and Disney Plus created to join the rat race for audience viewership), catered content for niche audiences, the involvement of AI in the creative process ( AI creating algorithms of commercial success for Hollywood Films), growth in the Virtual and Mixed Reality market, and smart advertising. I started binging Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You on HBO Max ( Hard recommend ), a show that unpacks all the avenues of sex and consent, and I found myself searching Twitter for other’s reaction to the show, all while simultaneously texting and posting my own reactions to how the show made me question what consent means to me and my own personal experiences and where the line lies. I never really understood how important multi-channel experiences were in how I consumed and analyzed media. All these trends are relevant in how we continue to create and navigate digital dialogue in the form of Digital Writing.

As I continue to examine and understand what it means to be a Digital Writer, this semester I am excited to further explore and establish my own voice and digital presence.

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Gabrielle Burton

Gabrielle Burton

Senior Undergrad at CSU Northridge majoring in Cinema and Television Arts with an emphasis in Screenwriting. Writer, Director, and Editor based in SF and LA.