XKCD nails it.

XKCD: Writing Skills

Note the hidden text (available when you over over the image):

I’d like to find a corpus of writing from children in a non-self-selected sample (e.g. handwritten letters to the president from everyone in the same teacher’s 7th grade class every year)–and score the kids today versus the kids 20 years ago on various objective measures of writing quality. I’ve heard the idea that exposure to all this amateur peer practice is hurting us, but I’d bet on the generation that conducts the bulk of their social lives via the written word over the generation that occasionally wrote book reports and letters to grandma once a year, any day.

4 thoughts on “(t)(s)exting skills

  1. This seems like an argument for quantity over quality. Personally I don’t think quantity makes up for the lack of quality, the lack of real connection. I think our disconnected youth (and selves), striving to connect through the screen, are lacking meaningful interactions, are only touching at a superficial level, are not growing in ways that will produce significant thoughts on the level of previous writings. Although isolation will make writers of us all, and easy publishing may uncover writers that would hitherto have gone unnoticed; the vast majority will not benefit from tossing the ball and texting with their thumbs in a way that leads to becoming good writers. Anyway, that is my humble opinion.

    • It’s not an argument for quantity OVER quality, it’s a recognition that quantity can lead to quality, which is actually an argument that writers have been making for a long, long time.

      I disagree with characterizations like yours about “our youth” — the myths of golden age thinking — and further disagree, based on my work with and exposure to them in my job, about the superficiality of their experiences, compared to earlier generations, or that their linguistic achievement is diminished. In fact, I’d argue just the opposite: linguistic richness and diversity is everywhere, it’s an impoverished (ie prescriptive) mindset that obscures seeing it.

      • I can see your point of view. After all, some connection is better than no connection and some writing is better than no writing.

        I grouped myself with the disconnected youth so I don’t have golden age thinking; I have exposure to youth who will never go to college and who are damaged by chemicals. I don’t work with the best and brightest as you do. I’m sure those with talent will always float to the top if they work hard.

        I embrace changes and the evolution of language as opposed to trying to force youth to conform to old ways of doing things. Yet I find blogs (in general-not yours in particular) to not always be the most compelling reading (although some are spot on), and quality, contemporary writing difficult to find among the popular slop. I’m grateful that you are able to find it everywhere, I must not be looking in the right places.

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