A writing interns told me recently that every writing job she submitted a resume required digital writing skills. Skills such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, blogging, posting, and commenting. English majors graduating this year will find it hard to get a job outside of academia without these practical skills of digital writing. New media (social media) and the total-access environment of the Web has caused everyone to write more. Everyone can write online, but not all online writing is purposeful and powerful enough to get noticed. If you are writing online, you want to get noticed. The way to write for attention is to combine new media with solid writing and classical rhetoric. Digital rhetoric, relatively new term, combines these two practices and stands above the crowd. What's the point of writing content if it is not read. Being a digital rhetorician will help writing stand out and make writers more marketable in today's job market. There are writing jobs for writers who can adapt to the digital environment.
The National Writing Project published the perfectly titled book Digital Writing Matters. It matters in part because we are writing more than ever before. According to the authors of Digital Writing Matters, we live in a participatory culture that requires involvement an many levels. Digital rhetoric also matters because even in a difficult economy, jobs in new media marketing are increasing in salary and in number. Shan Li of the Los Angeles times says, "No one knows exactly how many social media jobs exist, but a quick scan of online recruitment sites shows a bounty of businesses looking to hire." More employers are hiring marketers or writers with skills to reach a niche audience through social media and new media channels. At some point, this skill will become part of the job descriptions of most professionals.
Digital rhetoric matters for employment, but it also matters for education. According to Elizabeth Losh, the Writing Director of the Humanities Core Course at U.C. Irvine, there is extended value of using digital rhetoric for pedagogy. Often what is taught in the university eventually finds its way into practice and areas one has never considered. Losh illustrates this point when she points to the astronauts who lost their lives in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, they might have been spared if data sharing had been a practice at NASA at that time. Indeed, digital rhetoric can influence education, the work place, the political arena to produce social and economic change.
Finally, digital rhetoric matters because the world changes every sixty seconds.
An info graph illustrates what happens in sixty-seconds on Social Media:
- Pinterest, the newest social media channel, has 1090 visitors.
- Linked In has logged 7,610 searches.
- Twitter posts 175,000 tweets.
- Facebook sends 700,000 messages
YouTube plays 2 million videos.
Each of these social media platforms requires digital writing - even better - digital rhetoric. Writing in the digital environment will improve if digital writers become digital rhetoricians. Brian Carroll, in Writing for Digital Media, suggests that digital rhetoric is about writing “clearly, precisely, accurately, with energy and voice, and for specific audiences.” He continues, “[f]ortunately good writing is valued online, and unfortunately it is still just as hard to find good writing online as it is in print” Writing jobs today require skill and digital writing experience. With time and practice writers will become digital rhetoricians.