Teachers and students, authors and editors, all writers in the globalized world, rely on technological tools to produce their texts. Not only the computer has replaced the writing machines of the past, but the importance of the internet in the last decades has made a revolutionary impact on the way writers produce and share their written work. Furthermore, technological tools to improve the quality of texts are widely used everywhere: language processors, online dictionaries, grammar correctors and translators have all been used for a while now, and have changed the writing game. In the following paragraphs, we discuss the role of technology in the production of texts, with special attention to the contributions of the internet in the educational and working environments.
Technology and education
Computers have entered the educational field in the late ’80s, being widely used in the classroom nowadays. The digitalization of writing has made it faster to produce texts, being considered an improvement for students to take notes in class. This has also led to opening more possibilities for sharing those documents at the immediacy of a ‘click’. Language processors, such as Microsoft’s Word, are preferred by teachers and students at school and college. Some of the best contributions of this tool to the production of texts are: more clarity of typing, orthography checking, easy formatting of the documents and wide variety of formatting options, easy citation of references, amongst others.
The possibilities for the exchange of information have been amplified considerably with the discovery of the internet. Online forums and virtual communities, e-mail, databases for all disciplines, online storage devices, are only a few of the possible channels through which we can share and produce texts. Especially for researchers, the possibilities to share and find information in databases has made an enormous contribution to the production and spreading of knowledge in the different disciplines of study. Many studies have been replicated and, therefore, have also increased their contribution to the world, and the internet has had a primary role in this process, shortening the time invested in it.
Nowadays, more and more people have access to the internet in the world, which is especially important to increase equality in access to information. For the same purpose, countries have made evident the necessity of the internet by the creation of policies that promote its incorporation into the educational sphere, as well as for the general population as a basic need. This has come along with a massive reliance on technological devices, such as smartphones and portable computers or tablets, in the working environment, as essential components in the daily routine of workers. At last, e-mail has had one of the biggest impacts on formal communication, being the primary channel of communication in upper education and working environments, demanding that people learn and master how to use this tool. This is sometimes referred to as technological literacy.
Along with language processors came a variety of technological tools to enhance writing skills, the most popular being the orthography and grammar checkers. Some language processors are already equipped with these, but they have also been developed as text correction software tools to be used separately. Text checkers and editors are not only concerned with grammar or orthography, some assist writers in terms of style, formatting, and citations. These aspects are crucial in academic writing or formal documents such as CVs, motivation letters and other job applications.
In terms of communication, technology opened channels through which people can exchange messages. We have discussed the contributions of e-mail, but also translators are key when helping writers communicate their ideas in other languages. The importance of English in the academic community has made it a mandatory language to manage in order to produce research papers. Clear evidence for this is the inclusion of abstracts in the English language, apart from the summary written in the researchers’ native language. Also, most web pages include the option to be translated into different languages, all thanks to online translators and translation software tools.
Finally, new technological tools related to writing and the sharing of information are being developed on a daily basis, and the internet plays an important role in the process. Writers demand that technological devices improve so that the writing process can also be enhanced. Not only experts are users of these tools, but everybody having a job or studying a career at college. At last, the main contribution of technology in the production of texts is that it widened the possibilities for increasing the quality of texts and share the information in an efficient and immediate way, saving important time in the exchange of messages and, therefore, fostering communication like never before.