Writing for the Internet: Expectations

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Based on today's class discussion, I thought I'd write a little about what I expected from this course and what I discovered from taking it. 

My answer to the question, "Was this course what you expected?"  No! Not by a long shot!  But it might not be what you think; in this case, a course not living up to my expectations was actually a good thing.

When I approached this course, titled "Writing for the Internet," I assumed that it would be, completely and solely, about writing the content of various websites for various users.  I figured we'd incorporate some internet-specific writing styles, organization and tone.  I also assumed we'd work on focusing and tailoring our writing to appeal to various target audiences, or in this case, various target users.

The course did indeed cover these points, but it also covered a lot of other topics.  We discussed and learned the literal writing of the internet, in HTML and CSS code.  My jaw probably dropped in surprise when I first found out we'd be covering this in class; by no stretch of the imagination am I programming savvy (I still don’t think I’d consider myself this).  But the lessons on coding, coupled with the writing and organizational tips made in the Krug text, are probably the most worthwhile pieces of knowledge I’ve gained out of everything we covered, and I've improved (I think!) tremendously in these areas.  These skills will definitely help me in the long-run.

Writing for the Internet also covered types of writing I never knew existed - like interactive fiction and creative hypertext.  We also reviewed the fundamentals of user testing, a little-known but integral part of writing for the internet.  I've learned that writing for the internet and user testing are best used as a pair; you can write for the internet without performing any user testing, but you can't produce your best work without leaving it in the hands (or mouse) of a user. We also touched on topics like chat-speak, appropriate e-mail formatting and the effects of internet networking (pictures & postings on Facebook/MySpace, trolling, Wikipedia).

With all this said, I can now see that I approached this course from a very limited perspective - so limited, in fact, that I didn't even realize my own shortcomings!  I viewed the internet in a certain way and used it to accomplish certain tasks, so my expectations of this class were limited accordingly.  I could only envision myself writing for the internet in a way that I had commonly seen and read.  However, I now know that there are many styles and forms of internet writing, some which are far-removed from the corporate writing I was familiar with. But having this basic knowledge of several types of internet writing has helped me develop a wider perspective on and truly deeper understanding of the cultural implications and effects of this crazy, massive thing we call the internet.  So the class may not have met my expectations, but I think I am all the better for it. 


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Wow, that was a thoughtful and much-appreciated post, Jackie. The internet wouldn't be the huge cultural force that it is today, it if weren't for the many innovators and eccentrics who, for the hell of it, just started doing (and sharing) cool stuff. I want to encourage that kind of innovation and playfulness, while at the same time exposing students to the discipline (and, yes, tedium) that goes along with achieving these technical innovations. It's been great watching you react to the many possibilities this course tries to cover, and I'm glad you decided to blog about it.

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