A growing body of evidence supports the common sense conclusion that the internet is driving a historic literacy revolution. Andrea Lunsford, a professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford University, organized the Stanford Study of Writing and collected 14,672 student writing samples between 2001 and 2006. What she found was an outpouring of purposeful, varied and technically good writing.
"I think we're in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven't seen since Greek civilization," she says. Young people today write far more than any generation before them. Students were remarkably adept at what rhetoricians call kairos, assessing their audience and adapting their tone and technique to best get their point across.
... In interviews, they defined good prose as something that had an effect on the world. ... The brevity of texting and status updating teaches young people to deploy haiku-like concision. ... new forms of online pop-cultural exegesis, from sprawling TV-show recaps to 15,000-word videogame walkthroughs, has given them a chance to write enormously long and complex pieces of prose, often while working collaboratively with others.
The revolution, it seems, was not televised. Established media has repeatedly and wrongly hammered the internet as the worst thing for literacy ever, as if more communications could be bad for communication skills. Video editing will broaden and complement the revolution that the read write internet has brought."
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