Web 2.0

With the advent of web 2.0, we went from a space of information to a space of communication.  Ordinary people could start writing blogs, participating in forums, talking to each other in writing, on the internet.  Observers and researchers started to talk about the orality of online discourse – email for example was seen as written speech, or part speech, part writing.

From a stylistic point of view, there is a clear difference between a report and an email. In the former, vocabulary is formal, so is the way of writing. In English, for example, we use the passive voice: The customer was informed of his rights. In an email, the vocabulary is less formal, even in a work situation. We might use the active voice instead: we told the customer what his rights were.

In a business letter or the covering letter of a report, the way of addressing the reader is very formal:  To whom it may concerndear Sir/Madam – whereas in our emails, we usually use a person’s name: Hi Elena, Hello Elena, Dear colleagues; we also sign off our emails less formally:  whereas letters ended in Sincerely yours, faithfully yours, we sign off our emails with Kind regards, best regards, all the best.

In posts on social media, the same thing happens: we are less formal, and we are sometimes constrained by the rules of the platform:  in Facebook, very long posts are cut, i.e.  The readers only see one part, and have to click to see the rest.


Course: Writing online

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