The new writing, the new writers
Besides the writing an individual does, the web is changing the writing process as a whole. The idea of who "the writer" is changing on the web. While writers still write to an audience, that audience is gaining a more active role in the writing process. Instead of writing "to" an audience, the web is creating an environment where people write with each other. Forums such as Salon.com's Table Talk, the entertainment forum of aint-it-coo-news.com, to any number of more mainstream discussion groups, the idea of the writer- as creator, promoter of conversation- has changed. It's no longer simply about one person espousing the Word from on high. Now, it's a countless number of people of varying language skills spewing what they perceive to be important opinions. Despite the fact that a large amount of the content of these forums is unreadable drivel, the important fact is that it's there. These forums make up a huge part of websites. The stories websites such as Harry Knowles' Aint it Cool News post are only jumping off points of discussion, and the website's readers contribute far more than the few writers who actually work for the site. Other sites, while not truly interactive, feature writers who listen to readers' comments and let that shape their own writing. This is common in topics that have historically generated debate and conversation. Rob Neyer, who writes a daily baseball column for ESPN.com, is one example of a writer who writes about his readers.
Another obvious way the web is affecting prose is that there's a cottage industry of writing about the web and writing. The Online Journalism Review is dedicated to covering journalism on the web, and columnists such as Ken Layne post regular columns detailing web writing phenomena. Feed, Wired, and Slashdot.com all offer insights into online culture and writing, and countless sites from Cnn.com to the smallest personal webpage feature forums and discussion groups where collective bodies can all post their thought, "writing" entire pieces together.
Here's another point: I could go on and on about the various ways that the web is changing prose and what sites and articles and writers are doing the best job with this new medium. But the fact is that no matter how well I may represent them, it won't be as good as actually visiting these sites. So maybe you should do that. This being a web-document on a noncommercial site, I really have no vest interest in how much you read here or how long you stay. But if you'd like to discuss anything, you can always email me, and we can have a conversation on any topic, and write the 2.0 version of this article.
So I offer a list of a few articles that speak on the concept of writing for the web, how it's changed writing, for better or for worse. These are from non-commercial, personal sites, which I feel offer some of the better critiques. Sure, it's amateur and some if poorly written, but that's sort of the point.
In Defense of Web Diaries- A rant on what kind of writing the web is good for.
Why The Web Sucks- A good, comprehensive study of the difficulties of writing for the web.
What Is Good Hypertext Writing? - Another overview of one person's opinion.
These articles provide links to other pages concerning this topic as well. See how long it is before you get lost in the maze of links.