Writing in the 21st Century With digital technology and, especially Web 2.0, it seems, writers are everywhere—on bulletin boards and in chat rooms and in emails and in text messages and on blogs responding to news reports and, indeed, reporting the news themselves as I-reporters.

Such writing is what Deborah Brandt has called self-sponsored writing: a writing that belongs to the writer, not to an institution, with the result that people—students, senior citizens, employees, volunteers, family members, sensible and non-sensible people alike—want to compose and do—on the page and on the screen and on the network—to each other.

Opportunities for composing abound—onMySpace, Facebook, Googledocs, multiple blogs and platforms—and on national media sites, where writers upload photos and descriptions, videos and personal accounts, where they are both recipients and creators of our news.

In much of this new composing, we are writing to share, yes; to encourage dialogue, perhaps; but mostly, I think, to participate. In fact, in looking at all this composing, we might say that one of the biggest changes is the role of audience: writers are everywhere, yes, but so too are audiences, especially in social networking sites like Facebook, which, according to the New York Times, provides a commons for people

Perhaps most important, seen historically this 21st century writing marks the beginning of a new era in literacy, a period we might call the Age of Composition, a period where composers become composers not through direct and formal instruction alone (if at all), but rather through what we might call an extracurricular social co-apprenticeship.

Kathleen Blake Yancey

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