Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On evolving a digital writing style

A while ago I tweeted to @copacino that writing on a tablet produces different results than keyboarding.

Yes I risked rejection tweeting something obscure out of the blue to demonstrate a point: digital writing is new and different from “sm conversations” and long-form writing.

We need writing teachers for the digital. But, for the most part, writing is being taught by people who learned to write by hand or on a typewriter. Certainly not by tablet. Tablet reading is very different.
Think about it. Are people who are relatively new to digital communication able to teach effective digital writing? (Most adult writers today joined the social media party late. Thank you @apple, #iPad.)

Digital writing is changing too rapidly to not be one of the people using it intensively and actively experimenting with the rules. Pushing it.

Phone vs. Tablet vs. Laptop

Have you noticed a shifted view from one to the other? (Does anyone still use a desktop?) I find I can’t take in all of the information reading on the small screen, yet I also want the full meal deal.

When we read on a laptop we digest information differently than we do on a small screen. On the small screen, 4 guiding visual elements allow us to receive and transmit ideas with greater complexity: Punctuation. Spacing. Paragraph length. Grammar.

4 crucial writing foundations. All rapidly changing.

Are you changing your writing fundamentals? How far do you stretch in order to effectively communicate? For example…

Do you assess each sentence for whether it could stand alone in the 140 (+/- a # providing an opportunity to delve deeper). Do you provide context for each tweet? Obama did a terrific job of this during his Democratic Party nomination speech. As he was speaking, his staff was simul-tweeting the sound bites.

An effective tweet allows the reader to decide whether to dig deeper into my intention, or stay skimming across the top. Their choice.

My tweet was a shot across @copacino’s bow. A volley to enjoin them in a new digital writing conversation. (And I hope they will want to dig deeper with me because they’re so smart and Jim is so very good at the turn of phrase.)

Written digital style is evolving.

Digital writing must
· capture attention,
· build trust,
· communicate ideas,
· Inspire action.

The impact of digital on our reading attention will affect all of Today’s 5 effective writing styles. From formal business to every day emails, we need to adapt the digital style rules to keep up in the changing digital environment.

Digital style should *not* be distinct from informal business communication.

#DSM13: The 2013 Digital Style Manual.

I’m playing with the idea of creating an open source #DSM13. Why 2013? It’s a goal. A marker. A starting place. Good idea?

Come play with me. Make up your own rules. Push Back. Share with your word nerd friends. Participate in the #DSM13 conversations.

First proposed guideline on the table: Limit paragraphs to two or three 140 character sentences.