“My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see.” ― Joseph Conrad
Within the last twelve months, live-stream video apps like Snapchat, Periscope, Meerkat, and Facebook Live have launched into mainstream communication. Broadcasting fleeting moments of our lives, we share our joys, sorrows, and tell our stories in ways unthinkable even a decade ago. Within the last few months, virtual reality popped onto the collective radar, potentially transforming the way we communicate.
Amidst the rapid development of audio-visual communication technologies, does the written word still have a place? Why do we need to read or write when we can watch videos instead?
Although writing may seem like an outdated median in our high-tech age, it is just as relevant today as it ever was. Writing structures our thoughts and ideas in ways video cannot. It forces us to sit with ourselves for a moment, reflect, and consider how each word fits together like tiny building blocks, purposely placed to provoke particular thoughts and emotions.
Beyond the page, when powerful words are placed in the mouths of seasoned orators, crowds are moved to joyous applause, fits of laughter, or tears of sorrow. Even Martin Luther King, with his seemingly spontaneous delivery, spent long hours pouring over each and every word with his speechwriter, Clarence Jones.
Each word is a hue, each line is a brushstroke, each brushstroke is thoughtfully considered, yet intuitive in the hands of a skilled artist. Although the artist creates the work, it is the work that creates the artist. The work of writing shapes our ways of seeing, unlike any other form of communication. The writing process structures our ideas, allows us to discover new connections, and helps us make sense of our chaotic lived-experience.
As audio-visual communication becomes increasingly fast-paced, fleeting, and on-the-fly, we cannot forget the craft of writing.
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