Writing for the Internet is not like writing a novel. Seriously, they’re galaxies apart. Writing an essay and writing a blog post aren’t galaxies apart; more like the distance between the nearest open cluster of stars and me.
Clearly, I’m referring to non-fiction here, rather than fiction or poetry or experimental writing. I’m not talking about writers who are using blogging tools to serialise their novels or continue to ‘journal’ blog (the origins of the Internet weblog) because journalling is different – a more intimate form and less reliant on other people’s input and interactivity.
Much has been said of late – what with the Miscellaneous Voices launch, Jessica Au’s post at Spike last week about where blogging is at as a literary form, and the recognition writers (a category in which I include bloggers because they write) receive – about the nature, purpose and style of blogging. And while that is all worthy of debate, this is more a question of how to write for the digital medium.
Jessica Au asks:
Surely the more pressing question then is not whether poetry works better on print or as a digital text, but how it can work best according to the medium chosen?
Indeed. How are we negotiating the environment that is the Internet? When we sit down to write a blog post, should we approach it in the same way as writing an essay – i.e. an essay with hyperlinks? An online writer can work with whatever style and content they prefer, but are they thinking about their medium and audience when they sit down to write – and are they adapting?