The End Times

10 Ways Human Writing Will Survive The Textpocalypse

Human writing is being replaced by computers at rapid speeds. Ruby Thelot thinks there's a light at the end of the textpocalypse.

Asemic art by Jean-Christophe Giacottino


The End Times is a column cataloguing the omens of the Apocalypse as they occur in culture.

  1. I remember the first piece of writing I ever really loved. I was rummaging carelessly through the second drawer my father’s dresser looking for change and stumbled upon a beige book with crispy brittle pages, as if the book had been slow toasted for decades on a perennial radiator. I took it out. On the first page, above the title, my dad had signed his named, his flowy initials protruding from the lower caps letters, below the month and day: January 1988. Sifting through the volume, I encountered an ear-marked page, the third poem of the collection. I still remember it –––

  1. Text was the first primitive of the social internet because it is smaller in terms of bytes than images and videos. In order to be usable, pages had to load quickly to retain the attention of the viewer, hence the focus on text. Text was everywhere: blogs, status updates, instant messages, emails, personal websites. With the advent of Google’s AdSense, writers and companies alike came to the realization that writing on the internet could be monetized. Advertisers would be willing to pay a certain amount per click on a banner, if you placed it on your highly visited site. The centralization led to a perverse incentive to create “content” which could generate the most clicks and views. Content is a creation whose sole purpose is reaching an audience. Writing as “content” became subservient to search engine optimization (SEO) and Google Analytics. Companies hired writers not to expound on the benefits of their products or services, but to use the right words and links to drive traffic towards their site and convert visitors to sales. Even publications, supposedly devoted to writing, started loosening their editorial standards in order to keep visits high and advertisers happy.

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