The Challenge of Writing in a Digital Age

Screenwriter John August’s just saying what you’re all thinking.

I’m not talking about just academic writing. I’m talking about all writing. I’m talking about email. Memos. Your blog. I’m talking about what you wrote on your friend’s Facebook wall. All that writing you don’t think you’re getting graded on—well, you are.

Whether you want to or not, you’re being judged on it. And you’re being judged differently because of the era you’re living in.

I’m curious how School 2.0 finds his distinction between authority and expertise:

But in order to become an authority, you have to participate. You have to offer your thoughtful opinion when appropriate, and you have to invite others’ responses. Remember: an expert is someone who knows something. An authority is someone with the reputation to back it up. You get that reputation from your peers. That’s why your professors publish articles in journals with peer-review.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. My expert opinion: no, wait, do I mean my opinion as an authority on the topic?

    What’s the topic?

    Oh, so my writing is being judged? By authorities? By experts?

    I will take you back now, to the University of Hartford, Fall 1989 Final Exam, Freshman Composition. Prof. DenOuden. Here is the only comment she wrote on my final exam (and yes, I’ve committed this to memory):

    “If you continue to write about yourself, you will never learn anything about the world or the people in it.”

    Can anyone get away with that sentiment today? Wouldn’t it be a kick in the ‘ole internet if she turned out to be the proud owner of a blog?

    I don’t think there is a distinction that can be made, but I know the following:

    1. Put a question mark at the end of your last prompt and you have yourself a beautiful essential question!
    2. You’re about to get slammed with a lot of experts and authorities weighing in on this.

    You’re a sneaky dog…dawg.

  2. August lists the following:


    As a new blogger, and long-time teacher, I find myself asking if the ideas of immediacy and permanence aren’t contradictory in this new (relatively speaking) world of email, blogging, etc. Then I consider the more traditional “book” writing and realize that really the only terms above that apply are authority (in some cases) and permanence, and that the ideas of immediacy and response have become so beneficial in the electronic world of writing. I don’t really know where this is leading — just thoughts as I consider the value of various written forms.

  3. Hi Laurie,

    Out of John August’s points, I found Immediacy and Permanence the most confounding. Thanks for commiserating on that one, and adding a bit to the picture.