Online Writing and Culture

What my students and I are talking about in Writing for the Internet often intersects with current events and ongoing issues. Here are a few such issues and reflections.

Palin’s Private E-Mail Hacked
Bloggers have alleged that David Kernell, 20, is the one who has claimed responsibility for breaking into the Alaska governor’s e-mail account. (Background and snarking via- Metafilter)

Zounds! New “Dit-Dah” Lingo of Telegraph Operators Threatens Standard English! ;-)
I doubt that many visor-wearing
telegraph operators or gin-soaked news-hacks found themselves
accidentally writing “dit-dit-dah-dah” or “in this reporter’s opinion” in a letter home to mum. (Also… how should journalists treat text messages? Quote them letter-for-letter, thus making the users look illiterate? Translate them to standard English, thus changing the tone? Discuss)

Tools for Coping with the Flood of Words
Some people are turning to filters such as YouTube Comment Snob, or they are balancing the benefits of a truly open society with the benefits of discouraging bad behavior (thus trolls may find their posts disemvoweled).

Assessment of Online Writing
Learning in the Webiverse: How Do You Grade a Conversation? (See also, Evaluating Blogging; compare a blogging rubric from several years ago to how I now introduce blogging and the portfolio assignments — see this example from another class.)

Old Media Mocks Mariotti’s Newfound Disdain for Newspapers
High-profile ports columnist Jay Mariotti, who dramatically quit the Sun-Times,
saying newspapers are a dying industry, seems to have fallen in love
with the Web. His former old media comrades aren’t buying it. (Ebert; Deluca)

Wikipedia — the User-edited Encyclopedia
Lisa Spiro notes that professors are citing Wikipedia in their own research, media employees are leaking news to Wikipedia before the reporters can publish the story.  (Note that simply using Wikipedia is different from plagiarizing from it.) But does the world really need to know what a car mechanic has to say about genetics? Is a free-for-all world of amateurs really better than a world in which knowledge is managed by experts?