We Can’t Write Anymore

This post was sparked by an e-mail from a friend pointing me to the article Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter, which used quite a few words to say “kids don’t write blogs anymore“.

(I have a personal 2-page-down rule*. If an online article requires me to page down more than twice I probably won’t finish or even read it. I have no empirical evidence to support this, but I think that it may be the same for many other people. In that vein I didn’t read the whole NYT piece, I skimmed it and learned all that I needed to know.)

Does this come as a surprise to anyone? The truth is that people write less and don’t need to write page after page to express their thoughts. Often a few paragraphs suffices, sometimes a sentence, and even 140 characters or less is useful in conveying information. Let’s call this the Economy of Messaging: using the proper medium (based on economy – meaning value vs. cost (in your time) – of the service) to transmit your message in the most efficient means possible and to your intended audience.

Or could it be that quite simply people are less eloquent? Or could it be that many people have become just, well, dull? Not much of anything to say, but they’ll say it anyways.

Purely by coincidence this morning (are there really any coincidences? Nah.) I read an opinion piece by Roger Ehrenberg of IA Ventures titled Preparing for and adapting to tomorrow’s world (where has the capitalization convention in titles gone? But I digress…). He laments that our education system is still rooted in rote, whereas it should be moving more towards an analytical thinking model where facts are a commodity. He, of course, uses more words to say that than I have here, but then again, I don’t get published in Business Insider. He also managed to use the word “sclerotic” creatively.

Combining the two thoughts it seems that people are being successful at getting their messages across even by giving less information, but our collective education systems haven’t yet made the pedagogical leap to teach kids to steer their thinking away from information processing and towards ideas processing.

What do you think – are we communicating in shorter chunks because we can or because we don’t need to elaborate? Or that there really isn’t much to say? Or too much to say – TMI Syndrome? Perhaps TLA Syndrome?

I have spent a good chunk of the last few years learning how people use messaging for a project that I can’t quite discuss yet. I encounter many articles that announce the “death of e-mail” and the one thing that always strikes me is that I’ll betcha that all of these articles were submitted by their writers to their editors – by e-mail.

One of the guiding concepts in this project is the Economy of Messaging. Another one is that it’s all about the message and less about the medium. Yet another is about what’s hidden in the message.

*I’ll try to finish this post with that rule in mind.


One thought on “We Can’t Write Anymore

  1. Boaz, well spoken.

    “Memorization is not comprehension” is a sentiment echoed by many like yourself.

    Some also feel that ‘answering by rote’ is a loophole students are seemingly being Passed on through.

    SUGGESTION: Grade Questions Instead.

    A student’s depth of subject matter comprehension may be more readily revealed by their inquiries.

    Questions make up a large portion of an individual’s education, it is how we learn. From the time we begin speaking, it becomes a primary source of learning and information gathering; much like a basket to carry fruit and the hand that picks it.

    Teachers that view these questions as gifts, skillfully use them to help the student discover their own path to learning.

    PROJECT: Teach children how to ask mature questions.

    What is the status of your ‘economy in messaging’ project?

    I have a similar project of sorts and it is called REAAL – Reactive Educational Acronyms AS Language.

    ‘One Language’ – from verbal to mathematical, from prose to code, from biomechanics to binary – is a Universal Language Project. The message is in the WORDS.


    Would be great to speak with you.


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