Writing at the Age of iPad

Quick reflections on the nature of writing at the age of new technologies.


1. writing at the age of ipad

      There is a question in the tradition of writing that has lost its charm, and which is obviously the question of “why do we write?”. The act of writing nowadays presupposes a new question that, I suppose, is able to answer the question “what do we write?” and, at other levels, “why do we write?”. This question is “how do we write?”. The question of how we write turned over the last decades, and especially after the inception of new technologies, to be such a determining question. Writing has turned accordingly from being a medium per se to a product of other new media. The question of “how” ineluctably affects the “what”; new technologies “not only colour the rhythm but the whole logic of what you write”, as Tom McCarthy puts it.

      We should utterly cut off with the blind eye we turn to this question—displacement is needed at any rate.  According to McLuhan’s principle, “the medium is the message”, and this should not be met with a deaf ear when it comes to what media we use to accomplish writing. Centuries ago, when writing first emerged as a need to humanity, writing was conceived of as a medium that preoccupies the function of communication. It is still so. We cannot deny this. But, however, we cannot deny the fact that the tradition of writing underwent a process where it turned to be a result of new media. And these media certainly affect its formation, i.e. the act of writing. I would simply call them meta-media. Why? It is because they carry within them another form of media, which is apparently writing. And, this latter has become the message and the subject, and not the medium, as the tradition ascribes.

      These meta-media are iPads, laptops and tablets. And, why these meta-media matter is because what I’m writing now would not have been the same had I used inkpen and paper or a typewriter. Let’s not disagree upon this: the rituals of writing determine what you write. And, most writers fitting into the old generations would go for the very old rituals to accomplish their task of writing, and vice versa. Their logic set is shaped in a way that probably would function better with inkpen, and not a word processor and many tabs to refresh and check out every now and then.

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