Does the Internet increase or decrease the permanence of writing?

The Internet has wielded unprecedented impacts on writing: from methodology, to modality, to publication, to dissemination, to memory. In all of these cases, the Internet has (seemingly) offered expansion. New, inventive methodologies; an ever-changing landscape of modalities; an explosion of publication avenues; a global, instantaneous system of distribution; and endless memory and storage.

However, with the absolute profusion of writing (from documents, to webpages, to web-text, to user-generated content like Facebook and Instagram, etc.), it feels as though writing is getting lost. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become crucial, and writers and companies struggle to craft their content to be relevant and, most importantly, to be seen.

The writing is certainly stored online, but does storage equate to permanence? Does storage equate to memory? Do permanence and memory even matter, if the writing cannot be found?

  • This is very insightful. I agree that the profusion of writing to the web is draining something from the act itself; in the same way that Walter Benjamin saw a loss of aura or essence from the creation of art as a result of industrialized mass production (specifically with photography and film as opposed to painting/sculpting and live theater respectfully). Ultimately, storage does not equal permanence. The internet may disappear, just as many of us book-lovers fear that books may altogether disappear one day (a good example is in S. Delaney's "Nova", in which books are a long-lost phenomenon of the past; something many have attempted to replicate and few have succeeded. The insipidness of the internet, the growth and prevalence of online art, interaction and writing, is not necessarily a bad thing. However, the ways in which these writing forms often present is not healthy. This writing often places value in the perception of the audience over the reality of the writer. Plus, there is no guarantee that the internet is truly permanent. The internet can fail, just like the banks; and the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Banking systems have nothing on the internet in terms of size and spheres of influence. What happens then? We start from scratch I guess. – skjamin 2 months ago
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