If you want the super-detailed high-brow answer to who invented writing equipped with links to volumes of collegiate historical data, then by all means visit the Wikipedia entry. Otherwise, this article is designed to provide a more concise view and then get straight to the modern conceptions of writing.
We’ll begin by defining “writing” as symbols (letters/words) that are used to convey something. With that said it becomes clear we could go all the way back to the first cave dweller to draw on the cave wall, or in the mud.
How did it happen? Was it the protein in our diets, ancient astronauts, cold Darwinian evolution or benevolent Gods? Let’s try not to get lost in abstraction too soon. Writing happened because over a really long period of time humans developed a more and more complex way to communicate with one another.
We developed writing systems so that more people could talk to each other in an easier to understand and efficient way. Writing began as utility.
What Writing Is Transforming Into
Now, here we are in the very early 21st century technological era. First graders today have a completely unique view of what writing and human communication is.
- Books have become eBooks.
- Reading is now synonymous with browsing, web surfing and eReading.
- An increasing portion of all global communication happens in a digital realm.
- Facebook updates can change lives or begin careers, while Tweets can start or stop social revolutions.
Most human beings are bombarded by advertising and marketing signals over a hundred times a day in tons of different forms. The first thing many millennial folks imagine when the subject of writing is brought up is the blogosphere.
We’re headed towards a near future where one single search engine company commands and acts as the gatekeeper to the brunt of human knowledge. Where the first place the new generations turn to for answers?
How People Become Writers Today
Think back just 10 short years ago, maybe even less and consider what it was like to become an officially recognized, published and professional writer.
- Right now, if you wanted to you could open up a word processor, jot out page after page of nonsense, slap a snazzy cover image on it and self-publish it on Amazon as an ebook. Then, you could call yourself an ebook writer.
- You could set up a blog, start blogging and call yourself a blogger. The titles was recently used in the halls of the US Senate and White House.
- You could sign up for free to any of the online freelancing websites and call yourself a copywriter.
- You could hop online and study endlessly on how to be a writer for absolutely no cost from your bedroom, or on a beach somewhere using a laptop and a wireless connection. Ivy league college now offer advanced “open-source” writing classes.
Is traditional or conventional education even required anymore to be considered a writer? Are writing classes even necessary? You could call yourself a social media writer and compose updates, tweets and blog comments for people and businesses.
What a writer is now and is becoming is a completely new and unique thing from any other time in human history. You could publish something online, that should it go viral, would possibly be read by people across the globe within minutes, or hours.
The Emergence of Viral Writing
To get an inside perspective of where modern writing is headed, we need only look at it from the standpoint of professional web writers. A new profession really, that’s only just begun to spread. However, already the demand for folks that write specifically for web-audiences is prolific.
- They don’t need to have any classical writing education whatsoever. In fact, these days it’s uncommon for celebrated web writers to mention their educations at all.
- The primary goals of their writing is to sell, inform and entertain but many of the conventional rules of writing no longer apply.
Standard web articles are meant to be easy to scan, and present comparatively bite-size chunks of data.
- Non-fiction is shrinking at a rapid rate. The majority of people who buy non-fiction online get them in small packages roughly 10-25,000 words which not long ago would have been the average length of a single chapter.
The history of writing and where it’s going is an incredibly complex subject. Right now there’s an extreme lack of attention being given to how writing is transforming. And, along with it, us. What will people think of writing in 2020?
What will it mean to be one at that time? With video and mobile technology advancing so quickly, will there come a time when the written, or textual word is irrelevant?