The Elephant in the Interactive Room [Book Excerpt]

In today’s textual environment, increasingly managed and handled with the help of algorithms and complex systems for content dissemination, detection and discovery, writing’s frontiers surpass our bravest expectations.

Mezmerized by this new environment for our creativity forces, we are somehow blinded by the bright future we imagine and unable to see web writing’s balance of words and algorithms.

In trying to conceive of the essence of web writing and its role in our public and private lives, we very much resemble the blind man from the Indian parable about the Elephant: thinking about (and doing!) web writing we “feel” different parts of the process, but can have hard time conceiving it in its entirety. Although intuitively quite clear, defining what web writing is and what differentiates it from other types of writing, is still challenging.

Original image by SGerasimenko (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons []

Often times we would see web writing as putting links and keywords here and there, then we would rejoice text on the web for it lowers the barriers to publishing, research and access to information in general, many times we would believe only in the data-driven side of crafting words.

All these are absolutely valid and have the potential to bring visibility and findability. What they lack is the perspective that brings them all together, making each of them become part of a greater whole, bigger and many times more powerful than the sum of its parts. An integrated view that will allow us to recognize and utilize the full potential of the written word on the web and of writing per se in a networked cyberspace.

It’s time to conceive of the Elephant.

It’s time to see see web writing distinguished from any other writing, as a new form of textuality.


Excerpt from The Brave New Text, Essay #1: The Elephant in the Interactive Room. 


The Elephant in the Interactive Room [Book Excerpt]

by Teodora Petkova time to read: 1 min