How Writing has Evolved Due to the Internet

The English language, like all other languages, is constantly evolving. Whether we like it or not, the digital era has had a huge impact on how people use the English language to communicate. From the overly formal language used by writers fifty years ago, people now use conversational and casual language and tone on the Internet.

The information era was ushered in by the Internet and suddenly there was more content being produced in one year than what was being produced in entire decades before the Internet era. Although, many purists and Grammar Nazis have blamed the Internet for ruining the language and for glorifying bad language usage, it has also had some positive effects on writing and writers in general.

Positive effects of the Internet on writing

In the late 90s, Jakob Nielson – legendary web usability consultant, came up with a few essential guidelines for writers to help them write web content based on his observations of how people read content on the Internet. His guidelines state that:

• Online articles should be structured well with informative headlines and subheads
• Keywords and key terms should be highlighted
• Each paragraph should explain only one idea
• Bulleted lists should be used as much as possible
• Word count of online content should be about half of traditional articles

Web content writers and content marketers still use these principles to this day because of the simple fact that they work. As a result, writers are able to write better structured articles and are able to explain their points clearly without being convoluted.

Fewer people nowadays complain about writing than a decade earlier as they are used to typing emails, text messages, blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts, etc. Even though such content is short and often conversational, people are able to write content without thinking about it too much.

Due to the Neilson’s guidelines, now people are able to create great online content if they have a good idea. There is no denying the fact that there are terrible examples of online writing on the web but there are an increasing number of online writers that are publishing excellent content. With these guidelines to guide writers with the writing process, thinking and formulating a good idea is now the most important part of writing on the web.

Another excellent feature offered by the Internet is unlimited space to write. Unlike the olden days of print media, where writers had a few inches of space on paper and a strict wordcount to fit all their ideas in, writers can write how much ever they want on the Internet. With such freedom, people are not only writing more these days but they are also able to explain their ideas and thoughts freely without constraints.

With various online writing channels on the Internet, writers are also learning and even mastering different kinds of writing and writing styles. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter force writers to be witty and interesting whereas blogs, forums and comments sections have pushed writers to be able to explain their opinions clearly and to be better debaters. Writers are now able to write for different channels easily. While mastering all these different types of writing, writers have been able to develop a voice and distinct personality that make them instantly recognizable on the web.

Negative effects of the Internet on writing

Search engines and the advent of SEO have had quite a few negative effects on writing. Many web content writers now use false and misleading headlines to get as many people as they can to their websites. More often than not, people resort to use completely irrelevant keywords and phrases in articles just to improve the search ranking of the content. When content writers are unable to come up with original content frequently they use article spinning to rewrite existing content. This means that users end up seeing the same content on many websites.

With no-one supervising content on the Internet and as people are able to publish freely on the web, fact checking can be considered a thing of the past. Many web content writers ignore the fact checking process and often falsify facts to give more shock-value to their articles. Gullible readers on the web often believe these facts without checking them.

Responsible web content writers should keep Neilson’s guidelines in mind when writing articles and fight the urge to use bad writing practices. Now online writers can rejoice – with latest algorithm updates to search engine algorithms, the focus is back on original and valuable content.