December 2009 Archives

Word processed vs Handwritten.

Technology has definitely changed the way I write, in both quality and quantity. For me writing is more of a chore than an enjoyable activity. To be honest, I hate writing; essays, and assignments, even long e-mails sometimes bother me. When I sit down with my laptop to write an essay I look at the word processing screen and all I see is how much I haven't written and how much I have left to write. The task in front of me becomes more daunting and frustrating. I feel like when I write on the computer my words are chosen to simply fill a page.  Handwriting provides an escape from the looming word counts and page numbers. We discussed in class how writing by hand forces you to think out your sentences and chose your words more carefully. I agree that while typing we simply type whatever comes to mind and don't think through our ideas completely. This creates less effective points and poorer results.

A main problem I notice when I write essays on my laptop, is all of the distractions that come along with using the computer. I have music and internet at my fingertips and this can dramatically change the quality of writing. With the ability to distract yourself with entertainment it is far too easy to ignore your assignment and encourage writers block. The screen also is tiring to look at and gives me a headache after a while.

There are benefits of writing on the computer with word processing software. The writing process is much faster than hand writing. Making corrections and editing your essay is much easier on the computer. While writing Microsoft Word automatically corrects minor spelling errors and capitalizes words for you. This helps me immensely. When I type I hardly ever stop to capitalize and without spell check I would leave many words misspelled and have many more fragmented sentences.  By typing on a computer you can get all of your ideas onto your page without having to be distracted by grammar and punctuation because the word processor will do the work for you and fix your mistakes. I also like that you can highlight and move sentences and paragraphs in a way that you cannot do on paper.

The downside to becoming so used to the computer working for you is when the computer misses your mistakes. The word processing software is not perfect and often misses mistakes that we over look and assume have been corrected. Personally, I struggle with this and tend not to proof read as carefully as I should. Another problem is when you are writing on paper and use improper grammar and misspell words there is nothing there to remind you of your mistakes but yourself. Whenever I write by hand I have to think a lot harder about how to spell certain words. I notice that my friends also do the same thing and we have to ask each other how words are spelt or if sentences make sense. We have become sort of dependent on word processing.

Because of technology my writing has gotten more informal and it's easier to write in a personal or informal tone. Because I use technology so much to communicate to friends and family it is sometimes difficult to transition to scholarly and formal writing styles.  This class has helped me practice writing in different tones. I have really learned to write to a specific audience instead of just writing to anyone. We have practiced scholarly writing and writing longer more serious papers than those I had written in high school.

Typer or Writer

My use of technology for writing and school purposes has greatly changed during my first year of college. It seems as though I cannot even survive or complete a class without looking at a computer at least once a week. Even during my senior year of high school, just half a year ago, it was possible to complete my necessary writing class without having to hit a key on a computer until I was writing my near-final draft of my assigned paper. Now, programs like the Moodle, E-mail, and Microsoft Word are consistently being used solely in order to come up with a draft of an assigned paper.

All of these technological programs and many more can help a writer or a student succeed in a class, or make succeeding more complicated, difficult, or confusing for someone.

One big idea I have noticed in the college courses I am taking now is that there are appropriate and inappropriate uses of technology in a class.

One example of a class that shows these positives and negatives is my Psychology 1001 course. I believe that this class uses technology more inappropriately than any other of my classes. When signing up for this course I thought I was signing up for a classroom-based class, but was soon disappointed. This course is much more then classroom-based.

Without computer access, someone could not complete this course. Now that I have almost completed this course, I believe that to succeed and benefit from this course someone must view the WebVista page anywhere from three to six times weekly. On this web page are weekly chapter homework-quizzes, weekly discussion readings and homework assignments, study guides, extra credit opportunities, and even exam date sign-ups. All of these tasks take up more time than they should, especially when the homework assignments are available to take an unlimited amount of times.

Another thing, to take a midterm exam (including the final) in Psychology 1001, students must go to the Hubert Humphrey Building to take the exams on the WebVista program in a computer lab!

This is not only irritating, but also painful. To sit and stare at 60 plus multiple choice questions on a computer screen can make someone's eyes go blurry and numb feeling almost instantly.

One of the few ways Psychology 1001 uses technology efficiently is allowing the lectures of each day to be online the next day. If I miss a lecture, it is relieving knowing that I can catch up with what I missed. The few benefits of what is available online for this course do not overcome the many overwhelming other availabilities.

In another class of mine, Freshman Writing 1301, technology is used occasionally, but not nearly as often as in Psychology 1001. In writing class, the Moodle was used as a helpful program rather than WebVista. On the Moodle are daily or weekly updates which are well organized and easy to follow. One of the aspects I like the most about the Moodle over WebVista is that someone does not submit homework or quiz answers online, instead the assignments are just posted online to turn in at a later point most likely in-person.

In my writing class, the Moodle was a program used to keep students in the class on track with assignments and what was going on in the class. The Moodle is much more laidback and easy going over WebVista. The only downfall is that it is easy to forget to check the updated page when something is new or added onto an assignment.

In general, my writing has changed greatly since my switch to college. In my senior year of high school I spent a lot of time handwriting in class and composing my essays with pencil and paper. At the time it was easy and I did not think twice about doing that. Sadly enough, after handwriting just the first page of this essay my hand was sore and I had to stop myself from getting on my laptop to type my essay. Not only does typing on a computer seem to save time, but it seems like the normal thing to do now that I am in college. I feel that I have a complete different and better way of writing when using pencil and paper rather than the keys on my laptop. More of my thoughts seem to reach the paper compared to the computer. Technology and the use of the Moodle in my writing class has not made my writing better or worse, instead it has given me the option to either handwrite or type my essays. I just chose to write in the wrong way for most of my essays, which was typing instead of handwriting.

A certain statement by Steven Johnson struck my interest. In the article "How the Computer Changed My Writing" Johnson states, "I'm a typer, not a writer." I find this quote very true and intriguing. I feel the same way ever since I have started college.

A New Age of Technology Gives Writing a Whole New Meaning

Until about 40 or 50 years the definition of a writer was someone who had professionally published, or was working on publishing their writing. The steps they had to take were to write a first draft of their piece, and bring it to multiple publishing companies to try and get them to publish it. Now with the new advances in technology a writer has basically become anyone who has a computer. Writing has now become as easy as typing on a keyboard and pressing the post button. This easy technology has made it simple for people to post any of their ideas on any number of issues.

An article that covers important aspects of this topic was the article "The Writer a la Modem" by Julian Dibbell he discusses his take on the world of cyberspace, and what it means to be a writer now. Here he comments on both these issues: "I have seen the writing on the bulletin board, and it promises an irreversible diffusion of authorship throughout the social body, a blurring past all recognition of the line between reader and writer." With the advancements of technology, there have been numerous ways for people to share their ideas on any topic without having to go through the process of getting their work published. I think the most important part of this quote is the last section where he states that there will not be a line between readers and writers. This is completely true in today's writing world.

This blog is a perfect example; anyone who reads these posts can go and write their responses to the ideas written. Technology has enhanced the ability for ideas to be expressed more rapidly, and has created better conversation on growing topics. This combination of writing and technology is one often used in college classes. Many classes will use a blog or website much like this one where students have discussions on topics that were brought up in class. With out these technologies there wouldn't be as much elaboration on class topics as there is today. Another extremely important use of writing technology on college campuses is the use of university email. Without this tool today there would be less communication between students and professors, and no possible way to have online classes.

Along with the benefits of these writing technologies come disadvantages as well. The first of these problems that I have noticed in my own writing is that as a student writing I take advantage of using my computers tools to help my writing. I have realized that when hand writing simple assignments, or essay questions on exams it is much easier to organize my ideas and write a better paragraph than I could on my computer. The mind set that many student writers are developing is the thought that sitting down and hand writing a rough draft will take too much time, where instead they could type it on their computer and "get it over with" faster. Although I must agree that I thought the same thing with many writing assignments before this reflections and reading the articles on this topic, it makes a lot more sense to spend time on your first draft. Doing this will end up making your final paper better, and possibly save you time when going through and editing later. Typing on a computer also looses the personality behind handwriting. Receiving an email from your professor can have the same typeface as a letter from your boyfriend or girlfriend. With the use of technology much of the special personal attachments with letters and notes is lost.

Through this reflection on how technology has affected the writing world, and how it has affected my writing personally I have uncovered many things. What it means to be a writer is far from what the definition of a writer used to be in past decades. The recent technologies have led to great advances in college classes, and in the work that students can do outside of class. Also with advantages there are aspects about writing on a computer that are not the same as hand writing. Technology has transformed the present and the future; there is no way of going backwards to times where writing was a prestigious profession. With this I urge everyone to take a look at how technology affects their life, and whether or not it is making tasks easier, or is it just a tool that is making us lazier. 

Technology and the Writing Process

Technology has greatly benefited the writing process for me personally. I write exclusively on my computer now, and it has been a very useful tool for me. I like writing with a word processor because it helps me get all of my ideas out before I have the chance to forget them. Most of the time when I begin writing a paper, I have so many ideas that I often have difficulty getting all of my ideas down before I forget them. Because I am able to work so much faster with a computer, precious ideas are no longer lost by my old writing method of pencil and paper. I like writing on my computer better then writing it out on paper first because it's less work. All writing assignments nowadays are required to be typed. Writing on a computer eliminates having to type out a piece of writing after you've already written it on paper once. I don't think that using type as a medium for writing takes away from the message that the writing makes. These are reasons why the computer has made the writing process easier for me. Writing in different mediums drastically changes how an author's message is interpreted. It is critical for an author of any form of written communication to consider their medium for that reason.

Writing for a public forum such as this blog is different from writing for one person for many reasons. When a person writes for a public forum, they must make sure that they write in expressive language that everybody can understand. Also, the style of public forum writing is also much different. For public writing, the tone of the writer can be much more relaxed. High, formal language is no longer required. Instead writers are allowed to speak what comes to their mind without much consideration. Since this is not a scholarly setting, an advanced vocabulary is not necessary. With formal writing for a class, a person needs to worry about following certain criteria and about impressing their instructor. A person is free to be themselves when they are writing for a blog. When writing for a blog, people often misrepresent themselves because they know that everybody with access to the Internet will be able to see what they post. People will try to make they look more attractive or more appealing to others. When a person is writing for a specific person or persons, they more often than not know who they are writing for, so they have no way to misrepresent themselves without getting away with it. Misrepresentation is one of the few problems with digital communication. Other than that digital communication is an incredibly effective, convenient way for our society to communicate.

            I enjoy the ways that technology allows us to communicate with each other without being in the same room with the person/people that I'm communicating with. Many people abbreviate words or phrases when they communicate with other people digitally. For many blogs and online forums, it is no different. This blog post does not have any of those sorts of those abbreviations in it. There are people out there who would argue for why formal written text is better for peoples' brains than the digital, instant communication that is frequently used today. In the article, "The Endless First Chapter," by Michelle Slatalla, Dr. Maryanne Wolf says that, "Deep reading -- the kind that you engage in when you get lost in the syntax and imagery and the long, convoluted sentences of a really meaty book -- is a special sort of exercise that creates a new part of the brain that did not exist at birth" I don't disagree with this statement at all. But I would question how much this fact affects most Americans. I tend to think that those people who are smart to begin with will naturally seek out more knowledge through reading books and novels. Those who are uneducated are most likely to avoid academic writings, as well as other books or novels that could bolster one's knowledge in specific subject areas. The point that I'm making is that while advanced books are crucial for our development as a human race, they are obsolete to most people in a society. Using abbreviated words and phrases will work for most people in a society. This use of more simple language does not make us as a society less intelligent. If anything, it makes us more intelligent, because we have come up with an effective way of communicating that saves us time and is more easily composed. Either way you look at it, written expression and communication will always have a place in our society.

Handwriting is Obsolete

            Before the age of the computer or word processor, there was a time where just about everything was handwritten. Everyone had different handwriting, and there was something personal about reading a handwritten note from someone special. Things are very different nowadays. Without the need to handwrite much of anything, there is less emphasis put on much of what was important in the past when it came to writing. For example, decades ago handwriting was looked at as an art. I know that people from my grandparent's generation were taught calligraphy. This beautiful and intricate way of writing showed the importance handwriting had. If the first thing someone saw of you was your handwriting, then you would obviously want to come across in an exceptional manner to make a good first impression. Therefore, the better your handwriting, the greater you were perceived.

        Although handwriting overall has become less elaborate over the years, I feel that there is still some importance placed on it. I frequently compliment one of my friends on her handwriting. Mainly because I don't have the patience she has to take the time and make every single one of her letters exceptionally elegant. I simply have no patience for this. I feel the need to get my thoughts on paper as quickly as possible or I know I will forget my train of thought. Despite my handwriting being usually only legible to me, there is not a great need for me to improve it. If I know someone will need to understand what I am trying to write, I simply write slower

When I am forced to hand write for long periods of time, such as when I'm taking notes in a lecture, I tend to long for the simplicity of my laptop. Because after writing so long and so fast my hand starts to cramp like a Charley horse on steroids. Much like Steven Johnson feels when he said, "Even jotting down a note with pen and paper feels strained" ("How the Computer Changed My Writing" 695). Not only does my laptop make it extremely easy to get my thoughts out, it also makes it easier to write overall. With a word processing program I am able to just write/type. I don't need to worry about spelling or grammar; I can just get my thoughts out. After I'm satisfied, then I can go back and make improvements, copy or paste paragraphs or phrases, and make any other change I need to. All without having to rewrite or cross anything out, like I would if I was handwriting something.

            When I was younger, handwriting along with spelling, diction, and grammar had great importance placed upon them. This is because in my younger years, everything was handwritten. I learned to form letters on large lined paper and spell in my English classes. But what I have come to realize is that my teachers were much more lax with my lessons and me. If they were not doing it purposely, they were subconsciously easier on myself and other students. This was by no means there faults, but symptomatic of the time. If I had been learning the same basics at the time my grandparents were, I would have learned much more diligently, but as Bob Dylan says in his popular song, "The Times They are A-Changin'."

            Because in this day and age, technology has made many elements of writing easily accessible, there is less of a need to learn the basics of writing. No longer do I have to double-check my spelling (Spell Check takes care of that). Nor do I have to have a stellar vocabulary. I can easily type a word into and find the simile that fits best in my writing. And as far as grammar is concerned, yes the technology is not foolproof, but it comes pretty darn close. Overall, I believe my writing is much better when it's typed out instead of handwritten. Although it may not be as personal as it would be if it was handwritten, it is much more clear and precise. 

Bloggers, Today's Authors

Throughout history writing has undergone changes and developments. Language and communications is ever changing and with it, the way of translating language, into written form has changed as well. Can you think of anyone who writes a letter in the same style people wrote in during the Shakespearean Era? There would be none, unless one is creatively writing in historical rhetoric. This is because people don't speak in the same way as they did in the past. People used to have long rhythmic sentences filled with illusions and metaphors. The script they wrote in matched their fluidity of language, using an ink quill to paint cursive letters that linked together on parchment. Today language has more slang and the choice of people's words are less about stringing together a group of phrases most eloquently, but figuring out how to group the least amount of words together while still evoking the same ideas. This in effect has changed writing.

People tend to write more casually, and freely, as if in a conversation. Short opinion sections are printed in news papers, and blogs are posted online. People can sit at their computer and type out their ideas and instantly post them on the Web for the world to read. The process is quick, easy, and precise. Not like in the past, when works had to be hand written out and revised many times on new pieces of paper until finally sent to a publisher where it would be translated into print. Next, millions of copies would be made and sent out to stores around the world. It was a long and tedious process, and some works could only be shared with few-- the privileged?  There is no question who is privileged when people read newspaper articles or blog posts today because they are accessible to everyone. Isn't one being a true writer, a true translator of language, if their works can be translated to everyone?

Sven Birkerts, an American essayist and literary critic of Latvian ancestry and author of "Objections Noted: Word Processing," begs to differ on this argument. He insists that the change into an era where people use Word Processors to compose their writing, which then can be posted online has effected writing negatively. Birkerts claims that because people can write so easily and make instant corrections it takes away from the quality of writing, people no longer have a need for drafts.

 "Writing is very much a matter of drafts, distinct written drafts. I believe that prose is produced as much by the body, the rhythmic sense, as it is by intellect and verbal imagination. . . The instant correctability afforded by the Word Processor allows for cosmetic alterations that are often quite adequate. But merely adequate. My experience has shown me that my best writing comes when I am forced to type over something that I've already deemed to finish."

Birkerts fears that the use of Word Processors have created works that are careless and unorganized because they can be written up so quickly on a computer. However, he doesn't take into account the change of writing style in this era, which coincides with the invention of Word Processors. The casual, dialog-style language being translated through writing can be easily displayed by writing effortlessly on a computer. It's a style that gets your opinions down and shown before you at the rate you are thinking them. This does not take away from the beauty of writing but in fact allows anyone to write about what's on their mind and publish it without going through the tedious process of printing or having their work being heavily scrutinized. People can share with one another their ideas, despite a few possible mistakes. Writers can be more then the professional authors of books.

However, Birkerts claims that, "Even simple mistakes can be read as signs, parapraxias signaling the incompleteness of an expression." But who is to say that these free writings consist of parapraxias? Blog posts are often people's jotted down thoughts, but also many sophisticated works are also posted on blogs. Either way, neither can account for including a slip of the tongue, misplacement of objects, or other errors in thought to reveal unconscious wishes or attitudes. (This is the definition of a parapraxis according to People do not need to be professional authors to be able to fully express their thoughts and ideas. In fact, Word Possessors have helped the common person share the thoughts and ideas they may have been having for a long while, but couldn't express because of the complexity of print publishing. "Now everyone becomes a writer," states Birkerts in his essay.  

Julian Dibbel, an author and technology journalist with a particular interest in social systems within online communitie, wrote an article called "The Writer a la Modem, Or The Death of the Author on the Instalment plan. In this article Dibble takes on converse additude toward the Word Processor then Birkerts. He talks about how he began his writing career with a typewriter and then eventually bought a computer with internet and a Word Processor. He professes that he is:

 "Happy to have earned the title of a writer; it will continue to provide my living and feed my sense of identity. But I don't think I will ever lose the fear that has partially motivated every public word I've written--the terror of exclusion, of the silence to which the traditional writers's audience is by definition consigned. And it gives me no small satisfaction to think that the system of centralized limited-access publishing that instilled that fear in me will be dwarfed into irrelevance by a wide-open system that, via Usenet alone, already publishes the equivalent of 1000 books a day."

The 1000 books published daily by the internet does not include the small articles or blog postings being put up daily as well.  Writers, widely know and those publishing their first works can share their writing with others without the fear of exclusion or regection. They have the opportunity to find an audience with the limitless access to publishing on the Web. Like Dibbel had said, it is a way to feed one's sense of identity, and maybe also help others express their identity through anothers writing.

Today we are living among a new era of language and communication. People have changed language from in the past long, rhythmatic Shakespearean style of speaking to a simpiler and casual, more free style of speaking, which is also seen through their writing. Along with the new area of langauge comes a new era of writing, people can express this new way of casual, dialogistic writing through short opinion columns or blogs on the Internet. The Internet creates a place where people can publish these types of works without going through the tedious process of print publishing. The computer's Word Processor allows people to directly type of their thoughts and publish them on the Internet instantly. By having this accessability, published writing has become less exclusive and anyone can publish work.

People & Technology: The Love Affair

I can't remember life without a computer. Technology has improved so much through my lifetime and it has formed a new way of writing for my generation. My writing has improved because of the computer and the word processor. There are some negatives to writing on a computer, but they do not out way the positives. Most aspects of my life are strongly influenced by technology. Whether it's for academic purposes or any other purpose, technology is affecting people's lives.

As far back as my thoughts go, there have always been computers around me. I learned how to use a computer in preschool. We had computer class in elementary school, where we would play "Number Munchers" and "The Oregon Trail". At home there has always been a computer as well. When I was younger, there was no need to draft my assignments on the computer. The assignments I had were always short enough to write out and it was not required to have the assignment typed. I never really thought about having to write using a computer.

When I got into high school my thoughts about writing changed. The length of papers grew longer and longer. More teachers started requiring papers to be typed. Keyboarding class in junior high was preparation for the hundreds of papers that we would type and we didn't even understand that it would be a necessity. Writing out a four page paper and then typing it just seemed silly when I could type it on the computer and change it later if I needed to. Turning in more than one draft became much easier by using the computer.

There are so many benefits of writing using the computer. If you have to write more than one draft, you can just change one document over and over again on the computer instead of rewriting a paper over and over again. Also, handwriting can be bigger than typed text, therefore a two page written paper may only be one typed page. Many mistakes that you make will be caught by spell check so proof reading is faster. While writing a research paper, quotes can be easily copied and pasted. Many tools are right at the fingertips of the writer. A thesaurus can be utilized to make the writhing more vivid. In the article "How the Computer Changed My Writing" by Steven Johnson, he also discusses these benefits. There are endless possibilities for sentences while writing on a computer.

With every good thing there are always catches. With the use of spell check many people feel like they don't need to proof read. Not all mistakes are caught by spell check. Many mistakes can blend in with the text since it is not your own handwriting. Eyestrain can become a problem if someone is typing a long paper in one sitting. Staring nonstop at a computer screen can make you tired and hurt your eyes. Even with these negatives, writing on the computer still works best for me.

In today's society, technology is a big part of everyone's life outside of school. Gadgets such as cell phones, PDAs, laptops, and mp3 players have become standard items for most people to have. My BlackBerry and iPod go everywhere that I go. Where ever I go I see people using technology for everything. While driving people use GPS to get where they're going and a Bluetooth headset to talk on the phone. At coffee shops and almost everywhere else there are people using laptops. At people's houses there are giant flat screen TVs hooked up to cable or dishes. Technology has become a huge part of everyday life.

There is no escaping technology. It is used by students, teachers, business people, and just about everyone else. It has changed life as we know it. I think it that writing is easier because of technology. There are benefits and negatives. Everyone has to decide for themselves if they want to use technology and what to use it for. I don't think there is any right answer to the question "Does technology help or hinder writing?' because everyone has their own opinion and their own writing methods. Whatever works for one person may not work for another. I like to use the computer to write and I probably always will.

Why computers have changed the writing process for the better

The use of technology has definitely changed the face of writing and its process.  The whole aspect of writing to has evolved into where writing anything out in a pencil or a pen almost feels unnatural.  The only time I used my pencil for a class this year was either during tests or taking notes.  Every single draft or paper I have created on the computer from the beginning.  The last time I actually hand-wrote a paper more than a page that wasn't on a test would have been sometime in middle school.  It so far back I can only vividly remember anything of the sort.  Hand writing papers has almost turned into a foreign language and I do not ever think I will be able to transition back into being able to transition back into being able to write multiple page papers without my "handy dandy" laptop and its convenient word processing.  I'm not sure if everyone else feels the same, but I feel like my best writing is done on my computer due to the fact that it's so fast and can keep up with my thoughts.  It is also easier when it comes to the editing of the paper because it's a lot easier to be able to switch things around and move around even whole sentences on the computer.  When it comes to hand written papers it's just a bunch of scribbles, which can really be hard to tell what they even are.  And another reason hand written papers are useless is because how many teachers are ever going to ask for a hand written paper nowadays?  It won't ever happen so it makes much more sense to start on the computer right away.

Another reason I am very pleased with the invention of word processing is that it gives me the opportunity to have a nice legible writing font.  I for one don't have the greatest handwriting and the computer gives me an opportunity to be on an even playing field with everyone else and can hand in a great looking paper.  Word processing gives messy hand writers the chance to transform their writing into very presentable material where people won't have to deal with their poor handwriting.  It eliminates the chance that anyone can blame their grade on how they write, because their font will be the same as everyone else.  Word processing has evolved writing, as we know it into a more efficient and fancier piece of literature.

I agree one hundred percent with Steven Johnson when he writes that his writing changed as he used the computer in his article, "How the Computer Changed My Writing".  It has changed the way I have become as a writer.  It has made me into more of a writer because I do not like to handwrite very much so the computer has made the whole writing situation easier where I can type everything up and not have to worry about getting a writers cramp and my poor handwriting.  Even though I never really grew up using a computer (our families first computer was purchased in 2000) it has changed the way I've been writing ever since I first started using it.  We had always taken typing classes when we were younger but when middle school rolled around and I got the chance to use word processing, my writing skills sky-rocketed.  Maybe it was just because I never enjoyed handwriting, but the computer really went and made me into a more confident and more skilled writer.  I encourage everyone to consider using word processing, as it will only continue to evolve.  Hopefully it can help improve your writing as much as it did for me!

Technology: Beneficial or Detrimental?

Technology has definitely changed the way people communicate. Thinking back to my elementary school days, I can remember going to our computer lab (which was the only one in the whole school) every week and learning how to type efficiently. Everyone in my class would look forward to that one day a week because computers were just so fascinating to us. After finishing our keyboarding lesson we were able to draw pictures and play games on the computers. This was our favorite part of our time in the computer lab. Although we learned keyboarding skills in elementary school we never handed any of our assignments in typed. Everything was still hand written. It wasn't until junior high that we started doing assignments on the computer. We had a central area in the middle of our classrooms with a bunch of apple computers where we spent much of our time at school. High school was much the same. Not only did we type all of our papers we also did activities on the computers on a daily basis such as simulated biology and physics labs and review games for our English tests. We could even have conversations with our teacher and classmates through the computer in another language for our foreign language classes. Technology has changed the learning process significantly. Now Microsoft word allows us to format our papers neatly and it even shows us our spelling and grammar mistakes. It also takes much less time to write a paper because we started our keyboarding skills at such a young age we are able to type at much faster speeds than we would be able to write. One problem with this is I find myself not taking enough time to write my papers carefully like I used to when I had to hand write them. I usually just want to get it done as fast as I can and because I am able to type so fast I tend to make errors in the structure of my papers.

I feel that technology has many benefits for helping one learn but I also miss the simplicity of hand written papers, letters, ect. A letter from someone used to be very meaningful and it was so nice to see that someone you cared about took the time to write down their thoughts for you. Now email has made these thoughts and messages much less meaningful because we are flooded with email every single day. In the article "Mail" by Anne Fadiman, Fadiman sates, "The thrill of the treasure hunt is followed all too quickly by the glum realization that the box contains only four kinds of mail (1) junk; (2) bills; (3)work; and (4) letters that I will read for enjoyment , place in a folder labeled "To Answer," leave there for a geologic interval, and feel guilty about. " The author of this article explains that she always gets really excited to open her mailbox in the hopes that there is a letter for enjoyment but usually is disappointed by finding bills and junk mail. Mail just isn't what it used to be. Right before I moved away to college I told my close friends to write me letters and send them to me. When I told them this they all looked at me and said "Write? Like a hand written letter?" In today's world it is not normal to write a hand written letter when there are things like email, text messaging, facebook, and skype. My friends were confused as to why I would want such a thing. My best friend Kaitlin moved to Washington D.C. for college and because of all the technological advances such as facebook and skype it's like she never left. In a way this is a good and a bad thing. A good thing because I get to talk to her all the time but a bad thing because it's not as fun to see her when we both go home on breaks because we already know everything that has happened in each other's lives while we have been at college.  I fear generations after mine will not get to experience the joy of receiving a meaningful hand written letter. By then email will be the old way of communicating and they will probably be writing a reflection on how a new technology is taking over and email was much more meaningful and personal. Our world is forever changing and unfortunately there is nothing we can do to stop it.

For the Love of Letters

We were right. We really were. The day in class we talked about writing, the day we said that handwriting had more meaning. The actual substance, the tangible, the real, the concrete handwritten aspect of something changes everything. It changes the meaning; it somehow makes it so much more personal, so much more important and so much more engaging to read.

It is hard to explain, but everyone understands, how the same words, the exact same words can be amplified a hundredfold if written, rather than typed.

To read someone's thoughts in their own handwriting makes it unique and oddly personal. There is no universal font to hide behind, just your pen and your paper to express yourself with.

In a class reading, "HOW THE COMPUTER CHANGED MY WRITING", Steven Johnson wrote "...the machine seemed somehow inauthentic to me." I agree with him. Writing on a machine takes away that personal quality.


It is striking to me that it is somehow completely different, the two mediums. They are so similar in some aspects. They communicate and allow expression. But one allows true expressive powers over the other. The computer/word processor seems to allow the author to wear a mask when speaking. You can hear what he or she says, but CANNOT see what it says, or see how it feels.

Yes they both use words, there is thought, there is a communication, and yet, the words themselves are nowhere near similar.


My best friend in the world, Colin, and I write letters to each other now. We used to talk each day for hours during high school, during class, between classes, and every weekend. That all changed when this year rolled around. We now go to different schools and the amount we get to converse has plummeted. We started to communicate via Facebook and texting. This worked well for awhile, but the meaning and the quality of our talks were changing. It seemed much more generic and much less special. And besides, I don't particularly like technology. It has been very beneficial in many ways, but I still MUCH rather be with someone and talk to their face, see their expressions and feel their presence.

So one day I decided to try something new... well, actually old. I sat down and wrote a letter, a real letter. It contained four pages of thought, of substance, of love and concern. I wrote about all that had taken place, all I had been through, how I was feeling, and how much I missed him. I also asked tons and tons of questions for him to answer, in part because I really wanted to know, but also secretly because I wished he would write me a letter back.

He did. A week or so later I checked the mail and was more than excited to see a letter. It made my whole day just to see Colin's handwriting on that big blue envelope in my little mailbox. It put the biggest smile on my faceJ. I read his five-page letter to myself, twice. I smiled the whole time and literally laughed out loud.

The time, the thought, the love he put into that letter was more than priceless. While an email is nice and Facebook messages, like our earlier exchanges, were pleasant, it is NOWHERE near as special to me.

I treasure Colin's letters, like I treasure our friendship and the little time we spend together. Because he does write to me, I know he cares, really cares.

P.S. For all of you out there who don't think you have time to sit down and write a real letter, you are mistaken. Think quickly of how much time you spend on the phone texting, or writing emails. I guess I can only speak for myself, but I think you'd agree, that receiving one letter, every week, from a friend would trump fifty impersonal texts. Odds are that that letter is going to be a lot more special and personable than a text could ever be...



In my generation scholarly writing has been made possible to people of many different demographics.  Nearly anybody can use the vast amount of resources found on the internet and appear to be a far more educated and informed person than they actually are.  Likewise, as Shane Madden discusses in his third person analysis of his own representations, titled, "A Portfolio of Self Representations," people can use new technologies to portray an image of themselves that they feel is desirable for the circumstances in which they are writing.  For example, in Shane Madden's personal blog, on February 9th, he says, "Life still sucks of course but not as much."  About a month later, in an application for a summer camp counselor, his tone is much more cheerful and positive.  His tone changes, because his audience changes.  If he sounded depressed, it's not likely that the people in charge of hiring camp counselors would consider him a good person to supervise little kids.  However, when he is posting on his blog for his friends and peers to read, he tends to tell his true emotions, or "cry out for help," much more.  This is just one example of the millions of different self representations found in different writing every day.  Heres a video (Music video by Brad Paisley performing Online. (C) 2007 Sony Music Entertainment) that relates to what I am saying in a much more comical way.

Before I came to college, I barely ever used the computer, compared to how much I use it now.  I would check my facebook, download songs, and occasionally write an essay for school or a college application, but until I got here, it was just a small aspect of my life.  Now, about half of my homework is online, I send and receive multiple emails every day, I have read more articles through online sources than I have probably read on paper throughout my whole life, and I find myself sitting on the computer for hours at a time, doing pointless things that aren't improving my life.  It has been quite an overwhelming experience and for a good part of the semester, I was completely convinced that computers were a plague on the human race and that they would eventually lead to armagedeon.  Recently, my view on technology has become a bit less dramatic.  I feel like I am starting to understand the benefits and realize the ways in which computers have positively affected my life.  I still hold the belief that the world would be a better place had technology not been advanced to such an extent, and had computers never been invented because of all the complications that they cause, but the benefits in some areas, such as scholarly writing, have been substantial.

Technology has raised the bar for scholarly writing.  Sure people can post anything that they want on blogs or personal pages, without facing any consequences of lacking credibility, but in scholarly writing this doesn't fly.  No longer is there any excuse for producing an uninformed article or essay because of a lack of information.  It is all out there on the internet, and it's much easier to access than it was just a few years ago.  This has greatly raised expectations for scholarly writing, especially for college students.  Throughout this past semester, I have done some of the highest quality and most informed writing that I have ever done.  However, while I was working on each essay I was more stressed and frustrated than I have ever been.  The expectation for me to be well informed about what I was putting into my writing was very overwhelming.  I feel that computers have also increased the expectations on the quantity of writing.  Computers have proven to be a much more efficient way of writing, and having a computer has recently become a necessity, instead of a luxury at universities. For that reason I feel that instructors are more apt to give assignments that require many more pages and much more research. 

            To sum up, I believe that the overall standard of quality for scholarly writing has been greatly increased as a result of computers and new technologies, but the effect that they have had on the quality of life has been adverse.  Computers have made scholarly writing much more accessible to many different types of people, which creates much more competition and stress for writers everywhere.

Computer Savvy; Technologies Negative Effect on Academic Writing

Before I got my first computer and I needed to type something up for school I found myself having to ride in the car with Mom or Dad to my Uncles house to use his. Because all the kids in my neighborhood were about the same age there was no reason for anyone to have a computer. Due to this we would have to go to my Uncles to print something off the computer. The first time I ever needed a computer I was in elementary school and we were making our "All About Me" books and it needed to beat neat and typed. My Uncle sat there with my Mom and me for about two hours and typed this book because neither my mom nor I knew how to type on a computer. It was only about a 5 page book that talked about my short life up to that point. I was in 4th grade so there wasn't much to my life at that point besides playing outside with my friends. But after making that adventure to my Uncles to have him type this up for me, my Mom decided to bring it up to my Dad that we should probably get a computer for when I get into Middle School and I would need to type more papers.

            I was in 5th grade when we got our first computer, about the age when the teachers at school were teaching us how to use some important components of the computer. And also they taught us to type so we could go home and practice. Our first computer was a Dell; it didn't do much at the time because it didn't need to, just some kind of Microsoft word, I don't think that's what it was when we got it. Looking back at it now, that was the slowest computer I've ever seen. Then when I got into Middle School, and we started having to go on the internet to do research papers or even just a simple homework assignment. I remember having the dreaded dial-up internet where it would take forever to connect to the internet; wouldn't stay connected to it, was slower than ever, and every time someone called we would get disconnected. It was truly like the Comcast commercials with the "Slowsky's," but with dial-up, the internet would move at a turtles pace. Then we got the DSL, although not much faster, still was better then what we had, that was the start of the way the computer changed my writing.

            Going back to when I was in Elementary School, I had to write everything by hand, granted when I was that young the most we had to write was maybe one page. But as I got older we had to write more, the more we wrote the more the students complained about not having an easier way to write. When I was in 5th we started to learn to type and some people developed faster than others. I was one of those that would take a while to type something up because I didn't know how to type that fast. So in 6th grade I decided to take a typing class and I started to type faster and by the end of the class I could type just as fast as the other people. This however changed my writing, because some teachers wouldn't require the students to come up with an outline or a handed written version of their rough draft. So when I didn't have to do either of those, I wouldn't even though I should have. It was better for me when I had to write an outline for my paper before starting it because then I would really sit down and think about what I wanted to or had to write about. When I didn't have to make an outline I would find myself writing things differently and not the way I would have when I would hand write it first. In the article "How the Computer Changed My Writing," Steven Johnson states, "A phrase would come into my head--a sentence fragment, an opening clause, a parenthetical remark--and before I had time to mull it over, the words would be up on the screen" (697). I can relate to that because that's how I would write on the computer, I would just write and before I could think over what I was writing the words would be on the page.

            So I think that in some sense the computer has hurt my writing. Instead of incorporating the hand written outline or hand written rough draft, I just go right into the essay sometimes and just type. I think it has hurt my writing because I think that instead of thinking of a specific sentence structure I just type and hope the spell-check picks it up and helps me fix it.  Instead of planning out each sentence and making sure it is a good sentence, I just type and I end up making a lot of long sentences that don't make much sense or really short, choppy sentences. I have learned from this course that I need to pay more attention to what I write and how I write things. I think that when I have papers I will start to write them out or at least hand write ideas or outlines to help me become a better writer. Also, I think that I will really need to look over my papers and look at my sentence structures, that is a big problem I have is not writing effective sentences that get my point across in fewer more powerful words. When I am writing a paper I will have someone look over my paper to see if they catch any mistakes that I may have missed. In conclusion, my writing may have gotten a little worse, but my understanding of my mistakes has gotten better.

The Era of Lazy Writers

With the rapid increase of the amount of technology that has become available in recent years, it is only natural that we embrace it and accept it as part of our society. Particularly younger generations, like this year's college freshman, tend to find every new technology innovative and progressive. However, most fail to consider what the implications of these new and ever changing devices. What may be a progressive development for the technology world may mean a regression among the actual users and consumers of the device(s).

 Email, Facebook, texting, and blogs may assist in the ability for a large number and variety of people to connect, but what do these innovations mean for us? Personally, I feel like it makes us lazy. It breaks down the relationships that we work hard at creating to give us a false sense of connectivity with someone through a technological portal.  Not every college freshman may be this way, but I certainly see the effects of using Facebook and texting on my writing. Naturally, Facebook is a place for casual communication, thus I almost always state the most simplified version of what I want to say. Although I consider texter talk to be among my biggest pet peeves, in a text or on Facebook, I hardly ever add apostrophes to contractions, or capitalize proper nouns. In fact, I would say that if my texts or Facebook posts contain proper grammar, simply proper English for that matter, it is not a conscious effort. In this respect, I think that my laziness in areas where casual writing styles are accepted has had a negative impact on my writing skills outside of such realms. My patience for proofreading and revising my writing has drastically decreased. I despise the little green squiggly line that appears in Microsoft Word when I don't punctuate correctly or I write a fragment. Facebook never criticizes my grammar, and my cell phone certainly never makes suggestion for a more grammatically correct message.

 Similarly, my ability to spell has decreased immensely. In elementary school I was an all-star speller and even competed in spelling bees for the majority of grade school. As a college freshman, the thought of participating in a spelling bee is comical. I feel as though my ability to spell has diminished. I now rely on the T9 word predicting feature of my cell phone to correct my errors. In instances that I'm so far off that the word I want doesn't appear in the catalogue of words my phone thinks I may be shooting for, I choose a synonym. I don't even try to think about what the logical spelling would be, and I certainly don't "sound it out." As unfortunate and as embarrassing as it may be, I have every confidence that my fifth grade self could school my college freshman self in a spelling bee. Although it may be impossible to simply pin this decrease in knowledge on my use of Facebook and texting, I do feel as though these outlets have had immensely negative impacts on my writing abilities.

I feel technology has also made us lazy with the lack of letter writing we practice anymore. Although Facebook and texting have increased my availability to my friends, the ways in which we can connect are rather impersonal. Receiving an unexpected post from a friend may be nice, but is in no way personalized or meaningful. Regardless of the amount of meaning that post was intended to have, the fact that it can be read by, and commented on, by hundreds of people degrades the sentiment. I thoroughly appreciate Anne Fadiman's article "Mail" and her perspective on sending letters, "I used to think I did not like to write letters. I now realize that what I didn't like was folding the paper, sealing the envelope, looking up the address, licking the stamp, getting in the elevator, crossing the street, and dropping the letter in the postbox."   It's such true observation. With all of the other ways in which contact can be maintained, letter writing has become inferior. There are few people that send and receive mail on a regular basis for the purpose of communicating with another individual on a personal level. As an advocate for the continuation of letter writing, I save all of the letters I receive. There is something so special about receiving a piece of mail that an email, or a Facebook message, will never accomplish. Even if an email were to contain the exact same words as a letter in the mail, the letter still says more. Letters are written in the sender's handwriting, which is significant to the recipient. The paper on which they choose to write, or the number of visible errors that the writer has crossed out or clearly erased are all characteristic of the actual writer.

 Although it may be impossible to claim that all college freshmen have become lazy due to Facebook and texting, I think it is very true for my life. Not only have certain aspects of the writing process become difficult, but also an annoyance. I feel that this regression has become natural simply because of the progression of technologies that are outlets and advocates for writers of laziness and mediocrity.    

My Journey From Writing to Typing

Technology has changed writing from dipping a feather in ink and scratching words down on a scroll very slowly into sitting in front of a computer screen mindlessly typing away pages at a time. Technology has changed the way I write in the sense that I use to write everything on paper, but now I rarely do. Back in the day, when I would be assigned to write any paper, I would sharpen the pencils and get out the erasers because I would have to write the outline, rough draft, and final draft by hand on paper. Then came along the newest version of writing, typing. When I was in 3rd grade, our school decided we needed to have a typing class because eventually they figured we would be doing that a lot, but of course none of us thought it would catch on because writing was faster and easier then messing around on a keyboard. We had to learn through the typing program Mavis Beacon, which I hated and I always dreaded going to that computer class each day. Typing was extremely irritating because all I knew how to do was "hen-peck" and of course we could not do that. We had to keep our hands on the keyboard the right way and I thought I would never catch on to this typing thing. Now in college, all the papers I write are typed on the computer and even all my assignments for one class are on the computer. The computer plays an important role in my life. From writing papers to checking Facebook to fantasy football, the computer is constantly used in my life in the classroom and outside the classroom. Technology, such as the computer, is a staple in my life. For example, I went from running around and playing outside as a kid to sitting inside playing computer games. The computer as changed the activities in my life in the classroom in ways such as how most homework now a day's involves the computer in some way, shape, or form.  The fact that the computer is not just used for writing probably hinders my writing effectiveness and focus on the ideas in my head. Because it is so easy to open a webpage on the internet like Facebook or YouTube, it is hard for me to focus all of my thoughts on a paper without interrupting my thought process with the internet. Also, technology has made it so many reading assignments for classes are now online on sites like web vista. I find it hard on my eyes to read lectures or essays off the screen then if I were reading off paper. Being that something more appealing to me might be a click away, I find myself straying off to different sources of entertainment on the computer. But the same way I tried to avoid typing and stick with writing on paper, I find myself becoming more and more successful using technology to write. With a computer I can just get all my ideas down on the screen and then add sentences and phrases here and there with just a click of the mouse. I agree with Steven Johnson's statement when he says how the relationship between a sentence in conceptual form and physical translation onto a screen has changed. Johnson says he use to think out each sentence in his head before he wrote it down on paper, but on a computer he can just type down a fragment or quote and work from there.  I agree with this because on the computer I just try to write the paper as fast as I can and feel like I can always come back later and just edit it to perfection.  When I write on paper I feel like I need to know what I'm going to say before I write because if I have to edit it that means I have to re-write another draft, which is very time consuming. Also, typing saves me considerable chunks of time because it is so much faster than writing and I don't have to write a rough draft when I can edit and add words and sentences without erasing and re-writing whole pages. The way I write and did write in the past has changed enormously with the addition of computers and has its advantages and disadvantages. But in the end, "time" is more important than hanging on to the tradition of writing on paper. Computers save me time with writing and open up an emphasis on successful writing.

The Romantic Capabilities of a Computer

Technology has slowly been implemented into today's society. Throughout my lifetime I have had the opportunity to watch how technologies influence on society has gradually changed. What was once only acceptable for businessmen and scientists to use has now become common for people of all ages to own. I'm talking about computers. Today America is filled with computers, almost every American family owns a computer, schools house computer labs where children are taught to type at a young age, and libraries, the home of some of the greatest published works, now have rows of computers that the public can use to perform the simple task of locating books. With the overabundance of computers, people have begun using them as a means to simplify tasks such as shopping, research, and writing. The greatest dependency I have noticed is that within the past few years, computers have become necessary for many in the writing process including myself.

Looking back over the past year, I have come to realize how much technology has impacted my writing style. In high school, I considered every writing assignment as just that... WRITING. Every essay I was assigned would be hand written before I would type it into my computer. I did this because I considered writing to be intimate. It was my words that filled a page and as Steven Johnson author of How the Computer Changed My Writing puts it "The idea of composing on the machine [computer] seemed somehow inauthentic." Because I thought that the hand-written language was much more personal, I would handwrite letters to friends and relatives rather than typing quick email. Once I entered my first semester of college however, technology drastically altered the way I write.

In high school I was given the time to carefully write out my thoughts onto paper, slowly morphing my words into paragraphs that worked to build the "perfect" paper. Once college hit, the extra time I had to work on my essays flew out the window. I was required to whip out papers faster and longer than I ever had to in high school.  In the beginning I worked to handwrite every essay, but that took too much time. So, slowly I began to write out my papers on the computer. At first it was uncomfortable typing words that are so personal onto an unnaturally white screen that portrays no emotion. However, by the end of the semester it was not uncommon for me to write out an entire research paper solely on my laptop. I, like so many others, had become dependent on computers in the writing process.

In the past, I had enjoyed writing everything by hand. I took pride in being one of the only people capable of writing an entire essay without the use of a computer. However, I can no longer do this. As Johnson wrote, "I can't imagine writing without a computer. Even jotting down a note with pen and paper feels strained, like a paraplegic suddenly granted the use of his legs." It is now a chore for me to hand write down the smallest of sentences. My handwriting is no longer as smooth and curvy as it once was; it has become sloppy and careless. Technology has drastically changed the way I write in only four months. The romance of my writing no longer exists.

I may be the only person to say this but, technology has changed my writing for the worse. There no longer is any sole or dedication in my essays and research papers. I once found writing pleasing and entertaining. I loved to make up stories, pretending that I was going to be the next great writer. However, I doubt that Charles Dickens or Shakespeare worked out their magical tales on the cold screen of a computer. Technology has drastically changed society, and I do not believe that this change has been for the better.

How the Computer HASN'T Changed My Writing

                  In the article, "How the Computer Changed My Writing," Steven Johnson says people always ask the question, "How did we ever get along without e-mail and word processors?"  I realize that technology has changed writing tremendously in the last decade, but it honestly hasn't affected me as greatly as people older than me.  I have pretty much grown up with computers.  We got our first computer when I was 10.  It was a hand-me-down, crappy computer so it was basically just for playing games.  I wasn't at the age in my life where I had to type my homework, I did not even know how to type!   We got our first "real" computer in 2002 for Christmas, and have had it ever since.  Because computer classes were required, I eventually learned how to type correctly.  If I would get a writing assignment for school, it would usually have to be written out first on paper as a "sloppy copy" and then typed for the final copy.  But, the writing assignments that I got back then, did not mean as much as high school or college assignments. 

                  In high school, teachers pretty much expected students to have computers and Internet access.  When writing assignments were given out, teachers expected them to be typed.  I did write out my papers with pen first, (as long as they weren't too long).  In my first semester of college, I have relied greatly on my computer when writing out my assignments.  My computer is basically my "best friend." That is very sad to say but I spend so much time on it.  I would not have survived this semester without it because I had three writing intensive classes! I definitely cannot say that my computer has hindered my writing skills because I did great in all my classes and I definitely used my computer a lot to write assignments and papers.  So, my writing process is successful even if I type right onto my computer. 

People claim that when writing in pen, the thought process is more drawn out, and while typing, the writer just types what ever comes out of his or her brain at that moment.  When I type my assignments, instead of writing them out first, I still think about what I'm going to say before I type the words onto the page.  After I'm done with my thoughts, I reread what I wrote a couple times and change what I don't like anymore.  That aspect about computers is great.  If a writer does that on paper, the page will be all marked up and messy.   But on a computer, the "mess" just gets deleted.  Although I don't mind writing with pen and paper, I definitely would rather type out my papers right away than pen them out.  The process is faster and less messy. 

                  When Johnson answers the question about how we lived without computers, he says, "We didn't know what we were missing."  Like I said before, my family got our first computer when I was ten.  Children under the age of ten do not need computers for anything important, so back then, it didn't matter what I was missing because I didn't need a computer.  But if I didn't have a computer now, I would know what I was missing, because I've had one for the years that I've actually needed one.  When I was ten, I did not have any need for a computer, and when I eventually needed one, we had one, so the statement doesn't exactly apply to me, but it does apply to people older than me. 

                  Another thing that is said about technology and computers is they are less personal.  Getting an e-mail is not the same as getting a handwritten letter in the mail.  I do not agree or disagree with this.  Since being away at college, my mom has sent me many packages and letters.  My packages are always filled with weird little things and then she always includes a handwritten note.  The notes are always amusing to read because she always talks about funny things that happened at home.  But she has also sent a ton of e-mails to me.  She is a teacher and if she has a story to tell me, she will send me a quick e-mail.  I love going to my e-mail account and finding e-mails from her.  I understand that e-mail is more impersonal, but to me, it is not always.  I love to get mail and E-mail!  No matter what way information comes to me, I love to get it!  It keeps me involved with my family back home.

                  I do not think that technology is hindering writing I believe it is helping.  I would absolutely dread writing out long papers by hand, but with computers, it somehow is not as bad.  To some people, technology makes everything impersonal, but I do not totally agree. I love technology and I will definitely embrace all new technology!

Writing's Advancement with Technology

            Over the years technology has continued to change the lives of almost everyone in this world. More advanced technologies have been created and are being created almost daily which forces us as a society to continue to adapt to these changes. These technological advances are very evident in my life as I am a freshman student at the University of Minnesota. Changes in technology have surrounded me for all of my life, and these changes always will. The major advancement of technology has changed the way we write essays and papers today. The invention of the computer and continued improvements creates new tools for writing. Even though most people believe that computers are a huge improvement for our society, there is still a small debate by people that technology has caused us as a society to become lazy. I believe that in some cases technology has allowed this, but when used properly, technology is a great advance for everyone.

From what I have heard and read, the writing process used to be something like using a pen or pencil to write down the sentences and ideas on a piece of paper. Imagine that! I can't really picture it, but I bet it was some experience. Okay, maybe I can imagine it a little, but a whole book written like that? That seems like it would take a lot of work and would be a very long process for the author. When I really stop and think about it, the quality of a person's writing might be at such a different level. I never realized it or thought about it, but when I am writing with a pencil and paper I think more deeply about the topic that I am writing about. Though this is good, I also tend to want to write more in note format instead of good complete sentences.  It is interesting to think that I have never written a big paper by only free hand writing, or at least nothing other than those seventh grade book reports. Using a computer to compose an essay or any piece of writing has just become the norm and what seems like a necessity in our society. I wouldn't even think about writing unless I have my laptop computer, because that is what I have been taught. I remember starting in middle school where it was a requirement that paper's and many assignments had to be typed instead of written out. For me that was the end of the pencil and the beginning of the keyboard. I have always been told that computers are the future, and that I better know how to use one very well or I will have problems in the workforce or even just regular life. It used to be that writers would not go anywhere without paper and a pen, but in today's world the paper and pen have been replaced with a laptop computer and Microsoft Word.

Microsoft Word is a fairly new term in this world, but everyone in the industrialized world knows exactly what it is. I love being able to use Microsoft Word and a computer to write papers, because it seems to make everything easier and more convenient. Not only that, but I feel that using a computer to compose my work improves the quality of my work, or at least in most ways. I think that a little bit of quality is lost by not writing out papers instead of typing, but there is also plenty to be gained. With the use of Microsoft Word and computers, it is very neatly written and organized. It is also extremely convenient to move sentences around and to change the way that sentences are written. In Steven Johnson's article, "How the Computer Changed My Writing," he mentions some of the benefits of the "word processor": "If the phrasing wasn't quite right, you could rearrange words with a few quick mouse gestures, and the magical "delete" key was always a split second away. After a few months, I noticed a qualitative shift in the way I worked with sentences: the thinking and typing processes began to overlap." For myself and other students who use this technology, it positively affects the way that we write and how our ideas are portrayed. I think that it makes it easier for writers to be successful, but it also makes it easier for writers to just throw ideas and sentences together that fulfill the assignment or the goal. The quality can sometimes be lost because of computers. That is why it is extremely important and necessary that writers are very focused and motivated to write essays that are of the best quality. As I say all of this though, I realize that I have never experienced writing without the use of the technologies we have today. If I were to actually go through the changes of writing with pencil and paper for many years and then start using a computer, I am sure that I would look at things a little differently.

Even though I haven't known anything other than being surrounded by technology and I may not know any better, I love the benefits that technology creates for me. It is not just the benefits of using technology to improve my writing, but the technology which affects my everyday life makes life simpler as well. Sometimes easy and simple can be negatively used, but simple can also allow more enjoyment in life. It can create more time with family and just allow people to live a simple life. Technology has allowed more freedom when writing and it will continue to find new improvements and advancements in the weeks, months, and years ahead. As long as writers use this tool responsibly and positively, quality works of writing will continue to be created.

Evolution of Writing: First to Freshmen

            Looking back to the beginning of my writing career I remember many dotted lines. In First grade I was taught my letters and numbers by following dotted lines in the shape of the various symbols. Through repetition of carefully following the dotted lines I began to recall how to write the symbols from memory. My class practiced every letter and number until we could begin to form words and then sentences throughout the year. It seems like such a primitive way of learning how to write, but these exercises were the stepping-stones into the evolution of my writing.

            Fast forward to present day where I am currently a freshmen in college still using the skills that my first grade teacher taught me. The way I use my skill set is much different than back in first grade. Rather than meticulously tracing dotted lines to write letters, I have mastered the alphabet and even formed my own form of shorthand for notes. A keyboard has now almost exclusively replaced the pencil and paper that were my first tools in the writing process. Smudged papers from many erase marks have become obsolete with something as simple as a word processor and a delete button. I find this change into the digital age a refreshing one because of the process of writing has become simple and efficient rather than the time consuming and sometimes messy process of writing by hand.

            With writing being so efficient it has changed the way I perceive the writing process. I no longer dread the arduous process of rewriting pages of text after doing revisions on a paper. I reflect on my hand written three-page paper that I was assigned in eighth grade that required two revisions before turning in a final copy. The process of copying the same text with minor revisions seemed extremely inefficient to me. I dreaded the days in class that were set aside solely for re-writing our revisions onto a clean sheet of paper, which made me dread writing in general. Once reaching high school where papers were supposed to be typed I found myself enjoying writing more. My mistakes could quickly be changed and my finished product looked neat. This revelation in my life is the main reason why I enjoy writing to this day and no longer dread the thought of revising my papers. It is now hard to fathom me using anything other than a word processor to do my writing. I have become dependent on a computer for me to feel that I am effectively conveying my thoughts onto the paper.

            Other people have had the same experiences in their life going through their evolution in the writing process. The article "How the Computer Changed My Writing" by Steven Johnson discusses how computers have changed writing in the world today. Johnson feels that hand writing feels like it hinders his writing rather than using a word processor. I feel the same way when thinking about my normal writing process. When writing my notes in class by hand, I find myself abbreviating words and leaving words out in order to be able to keep up with the professor's lecture. When using my computer I have no problem typing along with the lecture, which gives me more complete notes. Johnson addresses the problem of writing too slowly when he says that hand writing doesn't have "the easy flow of a word processor, just a kind of drudgery..." This quote portrays exactly how I feel when writing using a pen and paper when trying to kick start my creative flow for writing. I feel that a pen and paper hinders my thinking because it impedes the process from my brain to the paper.

In the future, I will continue to use technology to the fullest extent in order to evolve my writing further. I feel that technology will continue to aid me in becoming an even better writer through the efficiency of word processing and the ability to access the world of information now at my fingertips using a computer. The pen and paper are great tools for learning, but the computer is the tool of the future to take writing to a new level.

How the Internet has Changed Writers

      The Internet has greatly changed the way writers communicate their ideas. 

Because everyone can use the Internet to express their ideas, they all can consider 

themselves as a "writer." This self-given title takes away from people who are actually 

published writers, either on the Internet or in print. Since you do not need a publisher 

to get your ideas out to the public, you have a much larger range of people who 

will/can read your ideas. This will cause the people who are not published feel more 

important, like a more accomplished writer. Now I'm not saying that these self-

proclaimed writers are not good writers but they are taking away from the people who  

a part of the select group who has the "ability to shape raw experience into 

language vivid enough or lucid enough to compel recognition by the inarticulate 

many" says Julian Dibbel in The Writer a la Modem. These people deserve to have the 

title of a "writer" because they write truly amazing works of  art. Honestly, will you 

ever find anything like Mary Shelly's Frankenstein or Homer's Iliad online? I do not 

think so. 

     Because the Internet is so accessible, writers may change their writing style when 

they post things so it appeals to a broader audience. Since it is so easy to write on the 

computer writers may share every insignificant thought that wanders through their 

head. Now I do not know about you, but I honestly do not care about what someone 

had for breakfast, what their little kid did that day, or how their day is so terrible. 

Because people do like reading this kind of material, accomplished writers may totally 

change their writing style, just so they can get their works read. Now this is a great 

disappointment because this change in their writing style may cause them to never 

write the masterpiece they wanted just so they can write on the Internet. I find this a 

great shame because I feel like I understand and enjoy something that I read when it is 

in print rather than on the Internet. 

Computers may have turned writers away from them communicating their ideas 

all together or not just as often. Because their writing is not printed on paper, that it is 

not immortal, they may feel like their ideas are too important for the flexibility of the 

Internet. Writers may not write at all because one day their work will be posted online, 

but then the next day it might be taken off because it was not getting enough 

comments or there was not enough people reading it. This may discourage writers to 

post their work all together because they feel like their work is too important for the 

flexibility of the Internet, they would rather have their work in the permanent form of 

print. Also once the site moderator takes something off of the site, it is extremely 

difficult, if not impossible, to find it again. But if it is in print, one can always find 

what they are looking for. I'm not saying that it is going to be easy, but it is possible. 

I feel that with technology advancing very rapidly, text will eventually be 

outdated. It is starting to happen already, I have recently found this out by writing a 

research paper. The majority of my citations were from journals that were online and 

not available in print at our libraries. With this happening I am afraid that the art of 

writing will be lost also. With technology redefining the title of a "writer," anyone and 

everyone can call themselves a one. This change will flood the Internet with 

useless and pointless entries, while making it very difficult to find writing that is 

really, truly excellent. 

My BlackBerry and I

               Technology is an always changing factor in the society and world today. There are always new advancements and new products that are made to benefit people's lives and make communication and information easier to access that one could ever imagine. As I reflected on the role of technology in my own personal life I realized how big of a role it plays in it, and how much I depend on technology to succeed inside and outside of the classroom. Technology not only makes communicating easier but also lets me gain and access information in little amounts of time. Through my reflection on technology in my life and the purpose of this essay I decided that it would only be appropriate to type this essay on my BlackBerry smart phone. I will be completing this essay without even touching a personal computer. I will be able to type this essay anywhere I choose, at anytime I choose. As one may see this handheld device has changed the way I go through my everyday life. Not once would I ever think that I would be typing a college essay on my cell phone. This phone makes my life easier when it comes to gaining information and communicating with other people both inside and outside of my academic life.

               As a college freshman I quickly learned that communication with my professors is a necessity in order for me to succeed in the course. I needed to be able to check my e-mail at least twice a day in order to stay up to date with class announcements and professor's emails. I found out the easiest way to do this was to set-up my e-mail on my smart phone. Once I completed this two minute, hassle free process I was able to receive e-mails right to my finger tips. After this transformation my life became much less stressful and much easier. After that day the role of technology in my life greatly increased. I now use this form of technology to communicate with my professors and ask questions to clarify assignments. I also use this device to check class websites and new announcements the professor may have posted. The role of

technology in my academic life is undeniable, it is a tool that has become a part of my life and has helped me through my first semester here at the U. This technology has also helped me with my personal life while being away at college.

            Growing up in this society today it would be almost impossible for a teenager to not know something about technology. Technology has been integrated into our everyday life. Whether it is writing a paper, shopping on- line, or texting, the use of technology is around us all the time.  I don't only use my smart phone to stay focused on college and succeeding in my classes but it also plays a role in my personal life as well.  The role of technology in my personal life helps me stay connected to my friends and family that I don't get to see every day because I am away at school. Technology has transformed the way I communicate with them, there is not any face-to-face interaction when we are texting, it is just the written word that portrays their emotions and what they are saying. This role of technology is beneficial in the way that I am always connected to people but on the other hand can also take away from the personal connections that are made in face-to-face connections.

            In the essay "A Portfolio of Self Representations" by Shane Madden the idea of representation of one self and how people represent themselves in different ways is talked about and demonstrated through many different forms. "People use a surprisingly wide array of genres to represent themselves, and in contemporary American culture, young people represent themselves in more complex ways then they themselves might be aware of" (Madden 50). I believe that we, as American teens, portray ourselves in our writing in different ways depending on the audience of our work. Depending on what we are writing and to whom we are writing it to we change the language, form, and overall tone of what we compose. I believe the un-written rules of our society determine the way we as teenagers address different groups of people. We want to portray our best versions of ourselves to the people that matter the most in our lives, the people that are going to help us succeed and get us to where we want to be.

            Technology's role in my life is huge; especially over the past year my life has been transformed from the advancements in technology, especially the advancements in cell phones. My experience with writing this essay was very difficult because of how I was composing it. This is not the way I usually write essays and when I write on my BlackBerry I think of texting and sending e-mails but never actually composing an essay. Therefore, I found it very difficult to complete full sentences, spell check, and make transitions between paragraphs. Through this essay I have reflected on how the role of technology impacts my academic and personal lives and also discovered a deeper insight on how I and many other teenagers represent themselves through the use of technology in the society today.

The Dawn of Typing

The Dawn of Typing

By Dalton Bloom

If I rewound my life by ten years, styles and methods of writing would be very different from what they are now.  In those early years of learning everybody was taught to write on a piece of paper.  We learned the proper techniques for crossing the T's and dotting the I's.  In those early years the only frame of reference I had with any computer was to use it for playing video games.  Through my young academic years computers were slowly integrated into our learning.  We were all transitioned from always writing on paper to doing simple projects or documents on computers.  We first wrote down all of our ideas, then edited them, rewrote them, and finally typed up our final piece.  This was the normal way of writing and editing a paper.  But as time has passed, the use of the computer for schoolwork has changed.  Today I would not dream of writing an entire paper without using a computer.  The computer allows me to quickly get all of my ideas on to the page.  After I get all my ideas on the page, I can simply go back and organize them into well thought out sentences.  The ability to rapidly edit a piece of writing, in my opinion, is exactly how the process of writing has changed.  This new, easier way to write has changed the very definition of what it means to be a writer.

Writers used to be looked highly upon by the public.  They were respected and considered to have this certain level of sophistication.  Although writers still have this same respect, it has become harder and harder to pick and choose who the real writers are.  Computer writing has allowed for absolutely anyone to claim being a writer.  Anyone with access to the Internet and can write whatever they want, that content is then available to whoever else has access to the Internet.  People now more than ever can spread their ideas about anything and everything through the Internet, making the vast content of writing it holds simply a blur.  The high level of technology with today's computers also allows for people to sound smarter than they actually are.  Several tools check for mistakes among peoples' writing and also enable them to replace simple words with larger, more sophisticated ones. 

The fact that anybody can be a writer can be good and bad.  This can be bad because allowing everyone to write anything on the Internet has cluttered it with useless junk.  This junk fills up so much space that the actual writer's work has been lost in the mix.  Finding a quality source of writing becomes increasingly harder.  People who may claim to be writers through the Internet may not have original ideas behind their writing as well.  They may steal ideas from others and reword it to make it seem as their own.  Although all these random writings can be bad and clutter everything, they can also be good in a way.  Allowing anyone to write his or her ideas for the public isn't always a bad thing.  The Internet can allow for great writers to be heard for the first time.  The Internet can provide an easy outlet for people's great ideas.  These people might normally have never known how to publish their work, leaving it unavailable to the public.

The computer has become my most important tool for school, my most prized possession, and I am lost without it.  "I'm a typer, not a writer. Even my handwriting is disintegrating, becoming less and less my handwriting, and more the erratic, anonymous scrawl of someone learning to write for the first time."  This idea claimed by Steven Johnson in his article "How the Computer Changed My Writing", relates to me.  I also feel that I am more of a typer than a writer.  When taking notes in class, or doing short writing assignments in writing class, my handwriting doesn't always feel natural.  It takes more of a thought process to write on paper than it does to type, making typing easier.  I find that my writing on paper occasionally gets jumbled and very hard to read.  I no longer feel that the prime way to get out ideas is to write them, but it is to type them instead.

The way people write has changed along with how people claim to be writers themselves.  I believe real writers maintain the use of a pen and the piece of paper.  They continue to think out their full ideas before writing them down.  Real writers have one hundred percent original ideas and do not simply copy or reword another's idea.  The status of being a writer has changed.  Real writers have become harder to identify and acknowledge for their work.   



Technology's Role in Writing Today

As each day comes and goes, we know one thing is constant in this day and age; technology. The support and advancement in technology is widespread and is becoming more and more a part of our daily lives with each passing day. Technology affects everyone and is an especially controversial topic. Some believe technology is absolutely advantageous, while the others believe it indeed takes away more than it benefits. One of the issues technology has distorted is writing, for better and for worse. When you and I think of writing, we think of sitting down and grasping our pen or pencil and physically writing down our thoughts. That makes sense because that is why we spent all that time from kindergarten to high school working on perfecting our penmanship and learning cursive right? Wrong. It actually turns out that cursive is rarely, and I mean rarely, ever used and your penmanship only has to be good enough for your teacher to read. Everything changed when technology brought along the invention of computers. Since the creation of the computer and word processing, the meaning of writing has dramatically altered.

            Before the computer existed, people would use pencil and paper and take the time to write by hand. This was the way we learned to write.  Sure your penmanship would progressively get worse as your paper went on but it was still legible, and it was alright to take a few breaks as your hand cramped up. Now all it takes is brief thoughts in your head along with a computer and you can type a paper quicker and more efficiently. Even though it speeds up the writing process, it can hinder the effective way we write. I can remember back to my middle and high school years when I would have to write papers. The majority of my teachers would have us write a rough draft with outlines before our final, polished paper. We would physically write our outline and rough draft and type the final. Something I will never forget is when I took a Composition class my sophomore year in high school. I had the oldest, meanest teacher, but she was great at writing and knew all there ever was about writing. She told us the first day of class our papers would consist of an outline, rough draft and then the final typed paper. Then she went on to clarify that when she means rough, she means rough. She did not care if you turned in your rough draft on a plain white shirt or on a postcard or a regular piece of paper. It didn't matter to her as long as you had some type of thoughtful ideas written down. Nowadays, when people turn in rough drafts they are typed up. This takes away the art of writing and accumulates into who has the most ideas at the top of their head.

            In the article, "How the Computer Changed my Writing" by Steven Johnson, the author reflects how technology has changed the way he writes. He goes on to talk about using a computer as writing for the first time and mentions, "It was more like typing than writing." (Johnson 694) I agree with this statement fully. When I had to actually write rough drafts of papers I took my time and formed my ideas off of a hand written outline and produced a thoughtful rough draft. However, when I would type my rough drafts, I would tend to just go off of the top of my head and rush to get it over with because it was easier to do. My favorite quote from Steven Johnson is when he states, "Fast-forward a decade or two, and I can't imagine writing without a computer. Even jotting down a note with pen and paper feels strained, like a paraplegic suddenly granted the use of his legs." (Johnson 695) This quote intrigues me because it is quite true. When you sit in front of your computer, all you want to do is type. You have to rely on having plentiful ideas come from your brain at a rapid pace and that is just not rational, resulting in you staring at the computer screen and not getting anywhere at some point. Whereas when you have notes or an outline, you have that to help guide you through the flow of your paper, which results in better flow.

            Technology has affected the way we write more than anyone could have guessed. Computers and word processing has made it easier on us by making writing faster and more efficient. The creation of spell check is brilliant and has saved a lot of people the embarrassment of spelling something simple wrong. These technologies changed the way we write for the better and for the worse. In the end, the fundamentals of writing and its effectiveness need to be written down by hand for you to be a more complete writer. Word processing can't make you a better writer, it can only save time and make it look more polished. A new year's resolution that I am going to make is for every paper I have from now on, to develop both a hand written outline and rough draft. I believe this will improve my writing, help the flow of my papers, and create effective, well thought-out writing.

Has All University Writing Become Technological Writing?

As the Instructor for WRIT 1301-079 during Fall semester 2009, I designed a first year writing course in which members of our class were encouraged to think critically about the role of technology in their lives--particularly their lives as university students.

For their final assignment, students have written personal reflection essays that respond to readings from our course syllabus, and contemplate the larger implications of technology's advantages and limitations for successful academic writing.

These reflections are posted to our class blog, for the larger U of M community to read and consider.

I hope you will find something here that piques your interest, resonates with your own experience, or generates your own reflection about the ways that technology  influences how we write, how we do research, and even how we think.

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