It’s no secret that our world today is filled with competing information. Between the Internet and the plethora of resources in libraries, new information on thousands of different topics is never scarce. With accessibility to written content on the web and traditional print media, these two platforms have been compared. Chapter 2 of Brian Carroll’s Writing For Digital Media explores the similarities and differences in reading style for web audiences and print media audiences. He also evaluates the credibility of both mediums and gives suggestions as to how to better engage readers on the Internet.
The first difference between the two is that web writing promotes interactivity (with hypertexts, etc.) while print media is merely read. “Reading” on the web, therefore, is not like reading a newspaper article or a chapter in a book. Furthermore, reading writing content on the web is “non-hierarchical and non-linear.” Hypertext linked within content on the web allows for readers to transport themselves from one article to another article of a related topic. Another difference between the web and print media is that there is a sense of immediacy on the web. We are aware that news is constantly changing and that the internet can be quickly updated; therefore, as an audience, we expect more because this medium can deliver more. On the other hand, the publishing of books can take years. Additionally, Carroll argues that internet users who search online for information find it more credible than that found in print media. I agree with this statement because when we go online, we typically search for information that confirms or supports our predetermined thoughts. Therefore, as we find information that confirms our thoughts, it seems more even more credible and believable to us. Chapter 2 in Carroll’s book also discusses discusses why the content on the web is becoming more popular; part of this is attributed to blogging. That is because blogs allow for more informal, conversational writing with the tone of real human voices. This is in contrast to journalism that is more formal and detached. Humans love connecting with other humans and blogging is great way for Internet users to do so. It’s typically more personal and passionate than print media and that is something people want in their reading content.
One expectation that is consistent with writing in a bounded book and on the Internet is that it is to be clear, concise, complete, and correct. No matter the medium or type of writing content, the reader expects it to be good and credible. Carroll discusses how exactly a website can gain credibility in its appearance and in its writing. Ease of use, clean site-design, high-quality graphics, good, academic writing, contact information, and links to other, relevant sites make a website more credible to its audience. A site with low credibility typically has lots of irrelevant ads and or pop-ups and seems to be written by a nonprofessional. Also, readers on the internet like conciseness. The web is supposed to be quick and there only so much time before a reader’s attention is lost. I bet we can all agree that when we go onto the web, we are doing so for a reason. We’re looking for a certain type of information and if we don’t find what we’re looking for in a short amount of time, we move on fast. Whereas, with print media, we typically expect it to take more time and to read word-for-word. Although both print media and writing on the web can provide us with tons of great information, their platforms are designed differently and serve us in different ways.
Here is a related article about how Amazon has caused challenges for publishing industries with its introduction of digitized books. This article reveals the larger issue of traditional media industries struggling to remain demanded by the public since the invention of the Internet.