As a history and literature gradauate (who now finds it tough to plumb the depths of anything beyond the latest by Lee Child or the late Robert Parker) I’ve always been partial to the beauty of the well-turned phrase, and over the past 15 years have watched powerpoint presentations, email, instant messaging, and more recently text messaging and Twitter pretty much destroy the English language. Don’t get me wrong - sentence fragments and purposeful misspellings and brevity make perfect sense for those mediums - so I had accepted that decent writing was pretty much doomed to go the way of the pen and paper.
And then a couple of amazing things happened in the glorious coming of Web 3.0-time that have in some measure brought quality writing and a person’s writing ability back into prominence.
The first is that blogs, while around during web 2.0, have, due to the adoption of Wordpress and Tumblr, ease of sharing with one’s social graph, and the desire for folks to establish their own personal brands online, became almost ubiquitous these days. That means more and more “long-form” writing being produced by millions of people and their audience. I do think social sharing tools (and the mother of them all, Facebook) have contributed to both people’s desire to write (few people really write solely for their own pleasure versus hoping to engage an audience) and of course to the much much wider viral dissemination of a post that regularly occurs these days. I also think personal branding has become a real trend amongst the digerati these days - and it gets played out in lengthy posts and replies on blog sites (Arrington, A VC, Both Sides of the Table , to name a few) and the most prolific platform of them all presided over by Marc Bodnick, Quora.com.
And the second thing to spur writing these days, somewhat ironically, is Google, and the latest incarnation of SEO strategies (that place great weight upon long form content creation on multiple keyword heavy websites) that have sprung up in the wake of the now legendary Google Panda release. It really doesn’t work now to have nonsense phrases on a page simply containing a link, or horribly poor English churned out by offshore resources - Google discounts those prior SEO approaches. More and more I’m seeing SEOs employing (I do this too) recent college grads (and not just English majors!) to briefly research and then write pages of content on any number of topics (from acne to tax and debt relief to electronics to baby toys) so that it can be placed on a website or its blog or information pages, targeted keyword domains, or microsites in order to influence Google’s algorithm to ultimately drive a company’s organic results ever upwards. And a LOT of firms are doing this, having people create thousands and thousands of pages of the written word. While the output itself is far from high art and purposely littered with the repetitive inclusion of target keyword phrases, it is the process which I am glad employs people to WRITE and perhaps fosters in some of them a skill (or perhaps even a love) that otherwise would not have been many’s first choice out of college.
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