Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Let the craft of writing not die... and how blogging can help

If I tell you that people are writing less than they used to write a generation back, you would perhaps not agree. You might say that even if writing on paper might have gone down, writing on the web and social media has more than compensated it.

The total weight of written words has definitely gone up due to rise in population, much higher level of economic activity and much much higher content generation on the social media. People are sharing content and commenting on social media all the time and generating billions of words a day, but if we exclude short and transitional content on social networks and chat apps, perhaps not much of substance is really being written.

Add to that the trend of sharing feelings and events through emojis, photos and videos. Use of photographs started with the advent of digital cameras, then cameras being available on mobile phones, then mobile cameras getting high-tech and enoght bandwidth being available to upload and download, and then social platforms making it easy to share videos. The trend towards videos is only rising and pundits predict that by 2020, 70 percent of web traffic will be in the form of videos. Add to that the coming of virtual assistants and improvements in speech recognition technology. These developments are making sure that talking to a machine would replace most of the writing that we do. That means, in a few years from now you will not need to write/ type out things unless you force yourself to do so.

blogging for writing

Having videos and photos to express yourself is fine, more so as it is less burdonsome and more effective than expressing in print. But there is a very dark side of the coin: people - especially the young ones - developing a dislike for writing. If you find the argument of no significance or too sweeping, I request you to read on for another one minute. (Again, you might not like to read further... because it also is in print and not as an image or a video!)

It is documented that children's capacity to write and do maths has been decreasing over the years, and the phenomenon is global. Many teachers have written on their blogs and have shared in other places that kids do not like to write essays or do creative writing. And since it does not pay in terms of better marks in higher classes or in employment, parents also do not see any value in teaching writing skills to their children.

Juxtapose that with how languages all over the world are growing: many non-English people have stopped communicating in their mother tongues and many languages that do not have value in finding employment or influencing marketing decisions are are being shunned by the new generation. So, the market is driving the adoption of English at the cost of native languages.

Come back to writing. Since the market and socio-technical forces are going against expressing oneself in written word, the will to write will diminish by the day and would find few takers like the native languages. There would be very little inducement to write, and only a bunch of people would continue to express themeselves in writing. If the trend continues, the toddler of today - when he becomes a teen and has all the gadgetry and virtual assistants in her command - would sure abhor the idea of writing or reading.

Blogging can promote good writing


Here comes the role of blogging. Blogging can be a very useful tool in the hands of young and old alike for expressing themselves in different ways including by writing down their feelings, their logic, their ideas.

Children, when induced to blogging at an early age, have been found to enjoy writing. Empirical studies have shown that students' ability to express themselves shows significant improvement - and that applies to small kids as well as university goers. Many examples of how children's focus, confidence, team-spirit and creativity have improved after they adopted blogging can be seen on educational blogs (edublogs).

Children who enjoy blogging are more likely to appreciate others' creativity and thus develop a natural appreciation of arts and literature, which lead to more humanized humans and more evolved civilizations.

Adults' writing abilities too can improve if they do blogging: not for money but for expressing themselves. Besides improving their writing skills, blogging can give them confidence as a writer. I have seen a number of bloggers who have published books after blogging on the subject for a while, many are able to write on the mainstream press based on their blogging experience. (Well, let me share that the two books that I have published recently are in a way an outcome of blogging.)  

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Manoj Pandey