Orwell for a New Generation?

Last week I posted this 1946 essay by George Orwell lamenting the degradation of the English language at the hands of political speech. Today I read “Reviving Anorexic Web Writing,” an article which applies similar thoughts to the web’s contribution to the degradation of the English language. The author is Amber Simmons, a writer and a web designer at the University of Texas at Austin, who writes elsewhere about many things including “theology and faith” — but from a perspective unsympathetic with biblical theology. What she has to say about web programming at intersection with society, however, appears to be rather helpful. She writes in her lament over the web’s contribution to the degradation of the English language:

As our culture becomes increasingly digital, the art forms that support it must be constructed with the same care, deliberateness, and gusto as our traditional media. Intelligent content is the literature of our time. It is not enough that our printed books and magazines are ardently written and meticulously edited. Our culture loses much if we encourage online writers to sacrifice grace and personality on the altars of pith and scannability. Perhaps better advice is to encourage writers to say exactly what they mean with precisely the words required, however many they may be.

This article was published in the online magazine A List Apart (ISSN: 1534-0295) which explores the design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on web standards and best practices.

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