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Generation Change: New Literacy Essay

People often blame technology for being a key player to why kids in this generation can’t write- from smart phones to T. V’s, they’re all considered to be the root of this problem and kids are coming to web earlier and earlier every year. Like most issues some people think otherwise, Clive Thompson a journalist and blogger once said he saw the glass half full rather than half empty in his article New Literacy. His claim is the opposite of what most people.

Thompson clearly stated that, “The modern world of online writing, particularly in chat and on discussion threads, is conversational and public, which makes it closer to the Greek tradition of argument than the asynchronous letter and essay writing of 50 years ago. ” This means that all of the social technologies that kids’ are using today such as Facebook, Twitter, and instant messaging ultimately have shaped the writing of the younger generation.

This has made them understand and use the Greek tradition’s argument method called Kairos. Kairos is changing the tone and technique of your writing based on the audience rather than the subject of the writing to best get the point across (Thompson).

Some might object that the language today is bland and weak. The difference is that the writing now doesn’t just consist of writing letters and essays as it did 50 years ago- it is more about expressing your thoughts quickly and effectively. I believe that technology is less of a hindrance and more of a opportunity to grow. With all the extra “help” from technology that this generation is given it is bound to change and grow. The method of writing letters and essays is considered to be less formal. But kids in the modern era due to technology itself can write in different degrees based on the circumstances.

Thompson explains in his ending sentences of his article that young kids 1 2 today believe it’s critical to know who there’re writing to and why- in my viewpoint, he is correct. For example in my very first English class in college, we were given a writing assignment that asked us to write 3-4 different summaries’ about the same topic but each for a different person such as a boss, a friend, or a parent. After doing this assignment I came to the realization that my tone and academic level varied immensely based on whom I was writing to.

Technology has broadened the spectrum of writing and like Andrea Lunsford a English professor at Stanford University says, “we’re in the midst of a literacy revolution”. The effect technology has on writing is huge in this modern era. People are writing even when it’s not required and this alone if a huge impact. But even moreover kids nowadays are more enthusiastic about writing to an audience rather than to a sole professor. This is due to this social aspect of technology breaking through. New Literacy gives two huge benefits that writing in this generation has over the past of only writing essays and letters.

First is peer response and second input from others. Twitter updates, Facebook posts, BBM, and etc. are all considered a waste to time to some but are actually motivates for kids to write. But New Literacy has explained that when you take away formal and solid templates used to write there are issues.

John Sutherland, an English professor at University College of London said, nowadays most writing that happens through text is a, “dehydrated language” turned into “bleak, bald, shorthand. ” Comparing this to the past where people seemed to have rules or writing and templates that they followed on how they should communicate in text.

Thompson also agreed with this in some ways because they writing methods that are used in texting and social media are very different than those in essays and letters. Social media has taken the brunt of this actuation that technology is to blame for poor 2 3 literacy in today’s generation. David Abulafiahe, a Cambridge professor in the U. K said, “Facebook and Twitter are sending essay skills down the plug hole”. There are many reasons to why he would say this. The writing in social media sites are usually restricted to a set amount of characters that can be used to express a comment or question.

On Twitter you cannot write more than 140 characters in a single tweet which forces you to shorten your writing and that’s where David Abulafiahe points come in. He even goes on to say that fewer and fewer people read in the modern era as time goes on- while some can argue that people are always on their phones and computers reading. So the real question is, how can people be reading less than before? Dr. Andrew Lingwall, an associate professor in the Department of Communication tested just that. He sent out a survey to 1,000 members of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass

Communications. The survey asked to assess the writing skills of their students and rate them accordingly. Lingwall very clearly says, “We’re dealing with a substantial amount of time each week dealing with basic student writing issues that should have been resolved before they were admitted into the program…This means that we can’t bring up new ideas or move on to interesting things because we are correcting these problems. ” The results of the survey showed that the learning is slower than “preferred”.

This could be because of many factors; such as teachers not using the right methods for students or technology itself may be the cause for the informal writing. Furthermore, according to Charles Moran and Gail E. Hawisher in The Rhetorics and Language of Electronic Mail, they explain that computer communication has a wide variety of more formal and informal styles.

It can be anywhere from grocery lists, a speech, online chatting to formal essays. Because the web is so broad and the only way to communicate is through writing 3 4 there are many different forms that it can come through in. Just because some forms of communication are informal there still can be more formal writings that can be chosen when appropriate.

In my English class at Whatcom Community College we are highly dependent on technology to guide us through our lectures and essay writing. For example my class has no physical book that we are required to carry around so through our “Canvas” account we receive assignments, guidelines and see due dates. This technology comes in so handy for a college student. After years of this technology being around it was about time that schools started taking advantage of it. Countless people write articles on why “technology is bad,” yet through that technology itself people hear about this.

In this generation technology is so important to us. Thompson also argues in the article, The Globe and Mail, that technology may be doing more to increase literacy and encourage reading since the rise of the computers and even novels. Writing used to be strictly an in-school activity. Now, kids do 40 percent of their writing outside of school. This he calls, “life writing. ” Social media communication is actually making kids more literate rather than illiterate. In conclusion, technology has proved over and over again to bring many benefits if used accordingly and purposefully throughout time than no benefits.

Yet people still find it as a fall back to problems and think that technology is killing literacy and essay writing. Like Albert Einstein once said, “Technology progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal. ” People will always misuse technology because with great power comes great responsibility. Just like how generation is changing the way of literacy is also changed to fit what’s best for it. In the past 100 years the writing in this generation 4 5 has taken many new turns.

We should be proud to be a part of this literacy revolution. ‘ Works Cited Moran, C., and Gail E. Hawisher, “The Rhetorics and Languages of Electronic Mail. ” pp. 80-101. Google Books. Routledge, 1998. Web. 04 Dec. 2013. Thompson, Clive, “Clive Thompson on the New Literacy. ” Wired Magazine Digital. 24 Aug. 2009. Web. 04 Dec. 2013. 5 6 —.

“The Dumbest Generation? No, Twitter Is Making Kids Smarter. ” The Globe and Mail. The Globe, 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 04 Dec. 2013. Tubbs, Robble. “Study Shows Decline in Writing Skills. ” Study Shows Decline in Writing Skills. 14 Oct. 2010. Web. 04 Dec. 2013. Ulanoff, Lance, “Mashable. Mashable. ” 04 Mar. 2013. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.


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