Writing and the Digital Life is an email list founded this April by Sue Thomas, Professor of New Media at De Montfort University, England. Now a bustling community with 250 registered members from across the globe, the listserv has now branched off into a blog of the same name.

The Writing and the Digital Life blog has 25 new authors and a healthy dose of startup spirit, choosing BlogDay for their coming out party and laying out an attractive scope in their announcement post.

“We are interested in the impact of digital technologies upon writing and lived experience within an interdisciplinary context. We talk about the relationship of writing and reading in the context of many subjects including ‘new and old’ media; craft, art, process and practice; social networks; cooperation and collaboration; narrative and memory; human computer interaction; imagination; nature; mind; body, and spirit. Contributions related to research, writing and teaching in the arts, sciences, and humanities are all welcome.”

Needless to say, it is good to have another neighbor in the “digital text” space, and we will be following the blog with interest.

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The members of WRT are participants or lurkers on the email list, and we are looking forward to their expanded presence online. One open question is whether the new blog will diffuse the energies of the group, or rather invigorate them. Will there be a norm of cross-posting, and if so what does that do to the impact of replied comments appearing either via the email list or on blog entries? I believe that there is some forum software that is designed to allow roughly equal interaction either via email or via web-and-rss - however my impression is that Typepad isn’t it. Of course, there are so many options for wiring two digital text formations together - for example:

  • Email-only users could subscribe to an email-delivered feed of the blog in parallel to their listserv delivery. There would be no centralized archive or comments, and blog feed readers would still need an email subscription as well.
  • The blog could be set to auto-email each published entry to the list proper. The listserv record would function as a centralized archive - the more so if comments were shut down on the blog and only allowed via the listserv. Blog readers feed readers would still need an email subscription as well.
  • Each message to the listserv could be auto-published to the blog! (less likely, but interesting) - thus the blog would serve as a central archive, with commentary relegated to the blog as any emails automatically started a new post. Email users who wanted to simply comment would need to use the blog to participate).

…of course, it is also possible that the two could continue in parallel, diverge into two fairly distinct conversational zones, or that one will simply be reabsorbed into the other. It is an interesting field experiment in the list’s own subject - writing, and the digital life. Whatever happens, it will be interesting to hear about the experience. Best of luck to WatDL in the coming months.

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