Chapter 2 of Brian Carroll’s book— Writing for Digital MediaAnalog media is the past; digital media is the present, and more importantly the future.
Carroll persuasively argues that the Web can be an effective medium for writers. However, the context of writing on the web is a whole new set of rules. Reading becomes interacting. Instantaneous everything is now the expectation for the Web. Credibility is a must—in a medium where gossip and rumor are the norm and not the exception. Reading becomes scanning or maybe just a long glance.
In an effective piece of online writing, digital media— audio, video, links, imaging, etc. must be utilized. In turn this creates more of a hierarchical “space” for interaction, quite different than a traditional page of writing one may find in a book. Hypertext allows for an endless flow of information so that a Web user may be able to continuously interact with the space they are viewing on the Internet.
This reminds me of the “wikipedia game” I played in high school. A cohort and I would challenge each other to start from an obscure page on Wikipedia and then race to another obscure page only by using the links on each Wikipedia page. For an example I may challenge someone to start on Lebron James’s wikipedia page and finish on the wikipedia page for photosynthesis. Researching this now, I discover this is a recognized game that my friends and I didn’t actually invent when we were board in computer lab. The ‘Wiki Game’ actually has its own wikipedia page.
Because the internet has the potential to deliver information at breakneck speeds; this is the expectation of internet users. Rarely does one solely focus on all that one source has to offer on a subject and ignore the wealth of information provided by other sources. But why should they? The beauty of the Web is the abundance of information on any topic. Carroll discusses the 3 second rule and this resonates strongly with me. If a site takes longer than three seconds to load then I am moving on to the next site. Why I should I care about what one site has to say when there are literally millions of other sites discussing the same topic?
Internet credibility is assessed by a completely different standard then that which assesses the credibility of physical literature. Almost all physical literature has had at least a basic evaluation of credibility. In the case of books, they were published by a publishing company. After reading Carroll I have realized that I put the most stock in the design of a webpage and aesthetic appeal in determining credibility. This is a subconscious decision I make with often has no correlation with the validity of the source.
Also very intriguing is the idea of bias influencing credibility. Carroll argues that authenticity can play a major role in credibility. Paradoxically, this often means explaining ones opinion and distancing oneself from objectivity. This helps to writer to find a voice but also makes him/her more credible.