The increased use of computers has changed writing by making it more common, making it more concise and easier to digest, and making writers work harder to grab readers’ attention. Some critics see these developments as negative, while others argue they are a natural progression.
One effect of technology is that writing has become a more common tool than it was previously. Through avenues as diverse as text messages, emails, Twitter, Facebook and blog posts, the average 21st-century individual spends far more time communicating through writing than members of previous generations. Email communication is ubiquitous in office environments, and the use of social media has also become a component of many jobs.
The Internet has changed the way people read, which necessitates changes in the way people write. In 1997, Jakob Nielsen published a study asserting that people scan Web content, rather than reading it, and this is still true today. Most websites steer away from long-form content and strive to be as punchy and accessible as possible, emphasizing lists and short, focused paragraphs.
The sheer amount of content has also changed how writers compete for readers’ attention. The nature of Web content leads writers to focus on gripping headlines that are the most likely to ensure readers click through to articles. Often the focus of the writing becomes how to draw readers in, rather than how to hold their attention.