Dave Humphrey has recently posted an interesting and thoughtful response to my discussion of Writing for the Web and Echographies of Television, arguing that what I perceive to be the speed and brevity of writing for the web is actually a kind of incompletion that is itself a request for others to join the discussion. I do not like to disagree with Dave, so I am glad that in this case I am in agreement with him. I would affirm that what is best about teletechnologies is their capacity to invite and accommodate the response of others. They enable dialogue and interactivity in ways that traditional media does not, and this is the very reason why I do choose to write through the medium, even though I write in ways that sometimes run counter to some of its tendencies.
When I argue that writing for the web is characterized by speed, brevity, and utility, I am not precluding the possibility that it is also characterized by openness and invitation, and Dave does well to make me recall these aspects of the medium. I am only suggesting that good writing on the web must find ways to disrupt the medium’s obsession with speed and currency, must affirm its possibilities for hospitality, because it is these possibilities, as Dave argues, that enable the web to be such an effective disruption of traditional print media, putting in question traditional ideas of authorship, scholarship, ownership, disciplinarity, etcetera.
The possibility that the web enables, and that Dave rightly affirms, is that we might write and think differently in a public space, without the restrictions of the academic institution or the publishing industry or the physical page. The danger is that the loss of these restrictions will encourage us to stop writing and thinking at all in disciplined ways, in ways that take whatever time and space is required to do their subjects justice.