Cambridge Professor Condemns Twitter, Facebook for Demise of Essay...

Language Arts

Cambridge Professor Condemns Twitter, Facebook for Demise of Essay Writing Skills

Jan 23, 2013

'DOWN THE PLUGHOLE': That's what Cambridge Professor David Abulafia feels is the result of social media's "compressing" effect on essay writing. "People no longer know how to write," he told the London newspaper, The Telegraph. Writing matters, he says, because:

"of all the tools that a young person can use in the humanities the most precious is the ability to articulate an argument, to convince, to sometimes pull the wool over the eyes by a real mastery of prose.”

As a matter of er.. self-preservation, we agree that decent writing is less prevalent in schools and society these days. Even so Abulafia may be missing the writing on the wall (or, more appropriately, the pictures on Instagram). Persuasive and expository arguments in web 2.0 formats can be at least as effective as beautiful prose -- especially when you consider the many "webizens" who will likely never employ a gilded academic vocabulary. And when it comes to pulling the wool over one's eyes, this Shell Oil-spoofing masterpiece in multimedia deception is far more compelling than the white papers churned out by tweed-wearing, pedigreed environmentalists.

Still the underlying questions are important: What is effective writing? Is a lack of what's traditionally been considered "good" prose a disadvantage in online communication? Or is the opposite true? What are the most effective ways to connect with--and persuade--different audiences? What do you think?

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