Terrouge E-zine Archives
Enthusiastic Monthly Exhortation
The recent debate over the legality of Napster-style services has caused many to believe that the internet has had a negative effect on the music industry. It is now easy to produce a free copy of a CD which works just as well as a store-bought copy. Some artists maintain that these services hurt their CD sales. It's much more difficult to print a copy of a book. Merely the cost of ink and paper is likely to make the cost of a home-made book exceed that of a store-bought one. If you don't print it out, you must read it off a screen, which takes away much of the convenience of a book. It's therefore pretty unlikely that authors will face an identical dilemma.
Yet the question remains: what effect will the internet have on the readers and writers of tomorrow? If you look around the ROC, you are likely to come to the conclusion that it is a very positive one. You can see future writers trying their talents at the Redwall Fanfiction Board or the new ROC: Survivor contest. Illustrators develop their talents in club art galleries, hoping to get into Yerf. Those who populate message boards are frequently seen convincing others to read a new series or book. That certainly seems good, but whether this positive influence is the case everywhere is up for debate.
"what do U m3an? How RU gunna prove that lol sorr3 gtg," interjects Random Internet User.
Well, Random's typing style takes it to extremes here, but all of you have seen this typing style in some degree, and probably use a few typing 'shortcuts' yourself. Don't get me wrong-when casually chatting, a few silly substitutions or punctuation omissions are fine (They will probably make people think you're younger or less mature than you are though-Random's typing style is widely referred to as 'scriptkiddie.'). On the whole, people keep that sort of sloppy writing in the chat room, but I have seen people use computer abbreviations in serious writing, such as school papers. A few honestly don't know that it is improper, but most do. They have simply gotten into the habit of typing badly and were writing their paper too quickly to notice their mistakes. Habits R hard to break, U know?
Then again, after seeing so many fights break out on message boards over misunderstood messages, perhaps I shouldn't worry. Since websurfers are forced to communicate through written word alone, perhaps we'll find ourselves witnessing a Darwinian evolution of writers. People will either learn to express themselves clearly or find many people angry with them for comments meant as jokes.
Surfing the net, if used as a substitute activity for television viewing, may also help increase reading speed. In reading, as in everything else, practice makes perfect, and an internet surfer is dealing with at least some written words. However, if the surfer does not cut back on their television viewing to spend time online, one would be hard-pressed to make a case for the benefits of surfing the net. While the ROC is indeed a wonderful place to be, I think most of you will agree that it is the exception that proves the rule. Perhaps as much as seventy percent of the sites online are a waste of time and provide only television-style diversion.
Lastly, the internet allows writers and readers with similar interests to meet and collaborate in ways that would not otherwise be possible. A New Zealander can post a poem and have it critiqued by people from America. An American can forward a story she likes to her friend in England. People from across the globe can meet in chatrooms and message boards to share ideas or discuss their favorite book series.
Perhaps I am overly optimistic, but I have to say that I see the internet as a very positive influence on the literary world. It is a testing ground for aspiring authors, and I think writers of the future may find that their audience is larger and more enthusiastic than ever before.