Question 203 of 365: Should writing be harder?

The Semantic Web Stack.
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Access to information never gets old.

I coveted it when all I could access was the universal search on AOL. I still covet it now that nearly every good piece of information comes directly to me through the various networks I take part in and blogs I read.

I will never get over having knowledge at my fingertips. It is intoxicating. I have to remember almost nothing on my own. All of the good things I read and experience are saved for later in online bookmarks. I rarely will input new people’s phone numbers into my phone if they have emailed it to me. I simply search from my phone for that email and then call when I need to. I don’t put things into folders or even download attachments anymore. They are always stored for me and I can go in a and grab them from any device. My search and browsing history is even a part of my record. And all of this makes it so I don’t have to even be aware of my accumulation of knowledge. Because it is all networked, I don’t even need to know where to find it.

This all means that the process of collecting and processing what is new is stupefyingly easy. It gets so that I rarely have to have any kind of original thought at all. The content just keeps on pushing further and further in.

Throughout all of this aggregation, the creative process is taking place. New works are being penned, but mostly about the same things. Because media consumption has become a type of art, our writing is becoming recycled.

It is af the trending topics are simply there to suggest what the trending topics should be. It has always been that momentum begets momentum, but it has never been so easy to make believe that the same story or idea is new through every retweet and “like.” If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, we have stumbled headlong into the most sincere times yet.

And the semantic web is playing right into the sincere nature of recycled content. Our social interactions around ideas and objects will prove to be very lucrative and engaging places for businesses and users alike. The nearly ubiquitous share button is making it so that nothing is a solitary act, that nothing is unmonotized or at least measured in our social graph.

As the comment becomes our currency and the remix takes on new levels of respect, there is little doubt that the act of writing will become still easier. The question is, should it be easy?

Should the penning of one’s thoughts be a part of everything we read and interact with? If everything is just a reaction to something else, where is there room for branching out and finding your own voice? If our conversations are within shared links, then our level of discourse can never move beyond others’ words.

It is important to know that we all stand on the shoulders of giants and that we have a lot to learn from those who came before, but we have become complacent in our role for balancing out the old with the new. We have stopped caring about creating our own context for the ideas we find because it is easier just to share links.

That is why blogging and good writing in general will never die. No matter how few characters we are limited to on other platforms, there will always be room for some dissent and some context and some new ideas. So, retweet to your hearts content. I know that the stuff that is worthy of that retweet is only what is truly resonant.

And the things that resonate most are still the things that are hard. Struggle and hard fought success and failure are The stories we should all aspire to tell. Recycled content is here to stay, but those stories are our counterweight. They are what allows us to own our social graph and justify our appalling access to content.

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0 Comments

  1. here i go regurgitating –
    jason fried says in rework that if he had 2 people competing for a position, tied, the one thing that would determine the break for him would be how they write.
    a couple chapters earlier… he says the thing we have to unlearn the most is how to write.
    seems i may have written this to you before.. but that's ok – it's huge.. and i believe it.

    two of my kids get to do ap comp in the innovation lab this year. i can't wait to see what that does for them. where they take it.
    i'm drawn to your writing Ben… but i've yet to see a 5 paragraph essay here.

  2. You should see me write a 5 paragraph essay. That is a form I learned and
    unlearned and relearned so many times that I feel like I finally understand
    what it is and isn't for. I want to take that AP Comp course, by the way.
    Any chance, I could be a fly on the wall with those kids?

    This year, my writing is all about unlearning and reinventing. None of this
    has a prescription, and I love taking every single dose, just to see what
    will happen.

  3. You should see me write a 5 paragraph essay. That is a form I learned andrnunlearned and relearned so many times that I feel like I finally understandrnwhat it is and isn’t for. I want to take that AP Comp course, by the way.rnAny chance, I could be a fly on the wall with those kids?rnrnThis year, my writing is all about unlearning and reinventing. None of thisrnhas a prescription, and I love taking every single dose, just to see whatrnwill happen.

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