- Connected They Write: The Lure of Writing on the Web By Raquel Recuero January 24, 2011 – 6:35am
- In Chile, for example, more than 96 percent of all students have Internet access. In Brazil, almost 80 percent of the population between 16 and 24 years and almost 70 percent of those aged 10 to 15 accessed the Internet in 2009. With that kind of penetration, digital media is creating new ways to understand literacy, learning, reading, and especially, writing. Far from hurting the writing practices for youth, digital media seems to be creating a far more complex and compelling space for them to flourish.
- Ilana Elea, a Brazilian researcher who recently finished a thesis on education on PUC/Rio, explains that social media provides a new way of writing: “Teens write while connected,” she says. “Their participation in social networks works as a motor.” For Elea, digital media is reshaping literary practices and creating a far more inviting space to write. She explains that teens write more and more everyday with social networking tools, sharing thoughts, experiences and feelings. Teens write to be connected to other teens.
- Social networking sites have provided teens a place to find others who like the same things they do. Finding others with similar interests has also contributed to the emergence of new writing practices for many Latin American youth: fanfictions and webnovels.
- Webnovels are fanfictions adapted to a Latin American context. According to Elea, the term, webnovel, is used by Mexican teens to refer to stories whose origins are Mexican soap operas, such as Rebelde (Rebel or Rebellious – RDB). They have a similar structure to television soap operas, where authors publish small chapters of the story a little at a time and the story usually unfolds over the span of six months to a year.
- In Brazil, Monteiro’s research has shown that among Justin Bieber fandoms, 51 percent of participants between the ages of 13 and 15 read fanfics and more than 20 percent write them.
- the number of comments writers receive seems to be a huge motivation.
- “I never thought much about writing…until I met the community. I enjoy writing for them.” In fact, many of these writers have legions of fans who comment daily (and whose stories, sometimes, attract more than five thousand comments).
- Beyond their motivational value, comments can influence the stories themselves. “One key difference between these new practices and traditional ones is the interaction among writer/readers. Since the stories are developed bit by bit, the feedback from readers can shape the author’s thinking and storytelling, says Monteiro.
- The authors’ interaction and engagement with readers also contributes to the popularity of the stories.
- school is a completely different type of setting for writing. “School is boring,” says Julia. “No one comments on what I write.”
- School assignments are no match for the writing environment in the digital realm, Elea says. Teen authors “like to feel involved with their readers, to see their work commented on. Schools fail to provide this feedback,” Elea says. Writing these novels demands time, commitment and patience. Fans expect authors to meet their expectations and, in return, to make the stories become hot topics on the Web. Digital media provides interactive, fast word of mouth and quick feedback for these young authors.
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