May 2nd, 2009 / 5:39 pm
Web Hype

WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TERM “INTERNET WRITER”

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there was recently a post here concerning blake butler and shane jones, and their conversation about writing . the idea of the “internet writer” was brought up. i have used this term before because it signifies a group of people that others would more or less understand. but now i am thinking about the term and it seems difficult to comprehend. does this mean that the quality of the writing (subject, tone and whatever else)┬áis different? does this mean simply that internet writers are those who use the medium of the internet? if so, how does the medium change the style? this seems like an argument that will happen forever and yet never essentially change. meaning, when writing itself became a medium, people were having the same argument (phaedrus, i think). i like the internet because of its liberty. i can write whatever i want and publish it and that may compromise its quality to some, but to me, that guarantees that someone else’s idea of quality doesn’t encroach on mine. what is the meaning of “internet writer?” is there any way to prove that the medium has directly influenced style? i think most terms are bullshit. maybe it is i who am the bullshit though.

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34 Comments

  1. Sam Pink

      man, even i stopped caring about this post halfway through. i suck.

  2. Sam Pink

      man, even i stopped caring about this post halfway through. i suck.

  3. Justin Taylor

      i like your use of the definite article. Sam Pink is THE bullshit. There is none other or better when it comes to-

  4. Justin Taylor

      i like your use of the definite article. Sam Pink is THE bullshit. There is none other or better when it comes to-

  5. sam pink

      thanks man.

  6. sam pink

      thanks man.

  7. Vaughan Simons

      I think ‘internet writer’ is a perfectly valid term, but considering the fact that the internet is now so pervasive in almost all our lives, here’s a completely radical and off-the-wall idea – why not just ‘writer’? Why do we still have to distinguish between a ‘writer’ and an ‘internet writer’?

      Personally, I think ‘internet writer’ is a term bandied about by those who like to look down their noses at writers who primarily use the medium of the web for their creativity. Somewhere in the back of their minds – and possibly clawing to get out from the back of their throats – there’s the thought, “Yes, but it’s not REAL writing, is it?”

      I think the most annoying and perturbing development – I was going to say distressing, but I decided against it since in the grand human scale of things, it’s not really at all distressing – is the number of former (and even occasionally current) ‘internet writers’ who have graduated to the printed page, and suddenly begin to adopt the same disparaging glances towards the internet as those who have always been in print.

      [It must be catching, Sam: the first two paragraphs of this response were much better than the third.]

  8. Vaughan Simons

      I think ‘internet writer’ is a perfectly valid term, but considering the fact that the internet is now so pervasive in almost all our lives, here’s a completely radical and off-the-wall idea – why not just ‘writer’? Why do we still have to distinguish between a ‘writer’ and an ‘internet writer’?

      Personally, I think ‘internet writer’ is a term bandied about by those who like to look down their noses at writers who primarily use the medium of the web for their creativity. Somewhere in the back of their minds – and possibly clawing to get out from the back of their throats – there’s the thought, “Yes, but it’s not REAL writing, is it?”

      I think the most annoying and perturbing development – I was going to say distressing, but I decided against it since in the grand human scale of things, it’s not really at all distressing – is the number of former (and even occasionally current) ‘internet writers’ who have graduated to the printed page, and suddenly begin to adopt the same disparaging glances towards the internet as those who have always been in print.

      [It must be catching, Sam: the first two paragraphs of this response were much better than the third.]

  9. chris

      i think ‘internet writer’ sounds cool
      like something from lawnmower man
      is there an ‘internet writer’ out there which exists only in cyberspace? has no physical presence?

  10. chris

      i think ‘internet writer’ sounds cool
      like something from lawnmower man
      is there an ‘internet writer’ out there which exists only in cyberspace? has no physical presence?

  11. daniel bailey

      i dont have internet anymore. i am writing this from my phone. that makes me a phone writer i guess.

  12. daniel bailey

      i dont have internet anymore. i am writing this from my phone. that makes me a phone writer i guess.

  13. daniel bailey

      what im saying is writers should be labeled by method of reading htmlgiant.

  14. daniel bailey

      what im saying is writers should be labeled by method of reading htmlgiant.

  15. gene

      If you’re under 35, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t be an internet writer. It’s a nice community, it’s global, and you can just write and make friends. It takes almost no money to publish things and get your writing in front of people.

      Those oldies though, they got a hard time with the computer.

  16. gene

      If you’re under 35, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t be an internet writer. It’s a nice community, it’s global, and you can just write and make friends. It takes almost no money to publish things and get your writing in front of people.

      Those oldies though, they got a hard time with the computer.

  17. Nathan (Nate) Tyree

      I’, exactly 35. Where does that leave me?

      I don’t think “internet writer” has much meaning. If it’s meant to denote writers who publish on the internet, then that set likely includes a vast majority of writers who are currently being published. If it refers to the set of writers who have published only on the internet, then the set is still likely to include a (smaller) majority of working writers.

  18. Nathan (Nate) Tyree

      I’, exactly 35. Where does that leave me?

      I don’t think “internet writer” has much meaning. If it’s meant to denote writers who publish on the internet, then that set likely includes a vast majority of writers who are currently being published. If it refers to the set of writers who have published only on the internet, then the set is still likely to include a (smaller) majority of working writers.

  19. Nathan (Nate) Tyree

      The lack of an ‘m’ and the addition of a comma above suggests, I suppose that I am one of those oldies having a hard time with the internets

  20. Nathan (Nate) Tyree

      The lack of an ‘m’ and the addition of a comma above suggests, I suppose that I am one of those oldies having a hard time with the internets

  21. michael j

      haaaaa….

      That term is stupid.

      Graduating to the printed page? I see it more like a transfer student who still takes classes at the CC ’cause it costs less.

      I like print because I can take it with me to the bathroom and it doesnt weigh anything or have the risk of electrocution if I wanna read the script to Pulp Fiction or some poetry or some fiction in the bathtub after a depressing day. (no bubbles).

      I fear the Kindle because I still cannot do those things with it. I can use the bathroom, but washing my hands plus the electronics. I fear it. I wanna buy a kindle. But I’d rather spend 13 bucks on a book than 300+ on a device that allows me access to thousands.

      Make sense? Dunno.

      Plus, I am typing this with the laptop on the floor, me sideways, and my arm propping me up. Its uncomfortable but I am still averaging about 90 wpm. Why I like books.

      Until we go all super-future and we have Kindle-like things which are made from organic materials like books… or until Kindle-like things go cheap…. or until I get rich. I’ll prefer print, then internet, then whatever else, like insta-brain transmissions.

      None of those mediums are any “less” than the other.

  22. michael j

      haaaaa….

      That term is stupid.

      Graduating to the printed page? I see it more like a transfer student who still takes classes at the CC ’cause it costs less.

      I like print because I can take it with me to the bathroom and it doesnt weigh anything or have the risk of electrocution if I wanna read the script to Pulp Fiction or some poetry or some fiction in the bathtub after a depressing day. (no bubbles).

      I fear the Kindle because I still cannot do those things with it. I can use the bathroom, but washing my hands plus the electronics. I fear it. I wanna buy a kindle. But I’d rather spend 13 bucks on a book than 300+ on a device that allows me access to thousands.

      Make sense? Dunno.

      Plus, I am typing this with the laptop on the floor, me sideways, and my arm propping me up. Its uncomfortable but I am still averaging about 90 wpm. Why I like books.

      Until we go all super-future and we have Kindle-like things which are made from organic materials like books… or until Kindle-like things go cheap…. or until I get rich. I’ll prefer print, then internet, then whatever else, like insta-brain transmissions.

      None of those mediums are any “less” than the other.

  23. david erlewine

      ha ha, Jeff Fahey killed in that movie, even more than in Psycho II

      yeah, i like the term internet writer. i also like cutthroat attorney and rich surgeon.

  24. david erlewine

      ha ha, Jeff Fahey killed in that movie, even more than in Psycho II

      yeah, i like the term internet writer. i also like cutthroat attorney and rich surgeon.

  25. Tony O'Neill

      its a funny term. i remember some of the first press coverage i got was when the guardian did this piece, and mentioned a lot of writers like me, tao lin, noah cicero, etc etc and we we all described as ‘internet writers’. i mean, i think anyone who writes today and has an internet connection uses the internet as a tool to market and reach people, but the idea of it being a literary style is a bit strange. i dont have a myspace account or facebook because i dont like talking to a lot of people, and this just seems like a sure fire way to get sucked into having to send lots of emails that i dont want to send. but you know tao is a good example of a writer who has been very smart ( much smarter than me) at turning the internet to his advantage, i dunno. i do hate the way that when people describe you as an internet writer, this becomes a stick that a bunch of asshole use to beat you with:

      ‘oh theyre not REAL writers! theyre INTERNET writers!’

      we got some real vicious comments tagged onto the end of that post from the ‘real writing’ brigade. ah well, fuck ’em anyway.

      ok, somewhere in between starting this comment and finishing it i kinda lost my train of thought, but im going to post it anyway.

  26. Tony O'Neill

      its a funny term. i remember some of the first press coverage i got was when the guardian did this piece, and mentioned a lot of writers like me, tao lin, noah cicero, etc etc and we we all described as ‘internet writers’. i mean, i think anyone who writes today and has an internet connection uses the internet as a tool to market and reach people, but the idea of it being a literary style is a bit strange. i dont have a myspace account or facebook because i dont like talking to a lot of people, and this just seems like a sure fire way to get sucked into having to send lots of emails that i dont want to send. but you know tao is a good example of a writer who has been very smart ( much smarter than me) at turning the internet to his advantage, i dunno. i do hate the way that when people describe you as an internet writer, this becomes a stick that a bunch of asshole use to beat you with:

      ‘oh theyre not REAL writers! theyre INTERNET writers!’

      we got some real vicious comments tagged onto the end of that post from the ‘real writing’ brigade. ah well, fuck ’em anyway.

      ok, somewhere in between starting this comment and finishing it i kinda lost my train of thought, but im going to post it anyway.

  27. JW Veldhoen

      How about “butt fucker”?

  28. JW Veldhoen

      How about “butt fucker”?

  29. Paul

      Just because you are writing for the internet you stop using capital letters. The internet has changed writing style for the worst and this post is the perfect example. It completely lacks a prose style. The overuse of rhetorical questions is a fundamental stylistic error. A piece of writing like this would not get published anywhere but on the internet. “is there any way to prove that the medium has directly influenced style?” You have proven it yourself.

  30. Paul

      Just because you are writing for the internet you stop using capital letters. The internet has changed writing style for the worst and this post is the perfect example. It completely lacks a prose style. The overuse of rhetorical questions is a fundamental stylistic error. A piece of writing like this would not get published anywhere but on the internet. “is there any way to prove that the medium has directly influenced style?” You have proven it yourself.

  31. Chuck

      “for the worst”, I like that. Before the internet there was a sharp distinction between writing for private consumption (notes, letters to friends, quick sketches etc) and writing for public consumption (publishable). Since the internet that distinction has become increasingly blurred. I don’t think there is any doubt that the internet, (how easy it is to become an ‘editor’ of an ejournal by making your own, how easy it is to attain a certain level of ‘fame’ ) has drastically reduced the overall quality of writing in the world. Not only does good writing struggle to find an audience, but the fact that anybody can ‘publish’ anything in an e-journal (a glorified blog) and call it literature means that young people don’t even bother to develop a style or learn anything about the fundamental craft of writing. The internet has been an absolute disaster for quality writing and for prose style in particular.

  32. Chuck

      “for the worst”, I like that. Before the internet there was a sharp distinction between writing for private consumption (notes, letters to friends, quick sketches etc) and writing for public consumption (publishable). Since the internet that distinction has become increasingly blurred. I don’t think there is any doubt that the internet, (how easy it is to become an ‘editor’ of an ejournal by making your own, how easy it is to attain a certain level of ‘fame’ ) has drastically reduced the overall quality of writing in the world. Not only does good writing struggle to find an audience, but the fact that anybody can ‘publish’ anything in an e-journal (a glorified blog) and call it literature means that young people don’t even bother to develop a style or learn anything about the fundamental craft of writing. The internet has been an absolute disaster for quality writing and for prose style in particular.

  33. Nathan Tyree

      wow

  34. Nathan Tyree

      wow