In this age of character counts and SEO metrics, are keywords now more important than words? Should writers write to captivate people or search engines? But as Copyblogger points out, "It’s people who use search engines--not some other life form." In fact, the latest SEO strategies aren't about keywords, they're about creating content so compelling others want to share it. And it's hard to make content compelling without knowing how to write well.
What's losing relevance is the way you learned how to write in third grade. The grammar that worked for Proust "dznt always matter, unless u r anal," observes Ann Handley of Marketing Profs. (She goes on to make the case for general use of good grammar, however, because "as a business leader, colleague and boss, it’s important for you to communicate clearly.")
Of course, writing for screen has its own rules of grammar which you must abide by or come off sounding stupid or pompous or careless or clueless. Remember Oprah's first tweet in all-caps?
New media is expanding our definition of good writing and putting new value on the mastery of saying it short. Brevity is becoming a key to success not only in the world of commerce. Poems are being created on twitter. Novelists are publishing stories in six words. (Longed for him. Got him. Shit. —Margaret Atwood) Literary gatekeepers are finally giving the nod to flash fiction writers like Lydia Davis.
This new emphasis on short-form has implications for writers of all persuasions, in both new and old media. It's a topic that fascinates me, and one I hope to explore in a session I've proposed for the upcoming SXSW conference: Saying It Short: Writing Workshop with @BettyDraper. Check it out here. I'd vastly appreciate your comment and/or thumbs up whether or not you can come to the conference. Tx. I mean Thanks!