Re: snapshots

John Oughton (john.oughton@SHERIDANC.ON.CA)
Sun, 7 Jan 1996 09:11:55 -0500

I agreee with Michael Day that use of e-mail can develop an "epistolary
tradition" to repleace that of the long-lost personal letter via snail
mail. We've seen many compilations of correspondence from and to writers of
earlier generations. These affirm that the informal, daily pracitse of
writing and reading letters became interlinked with their more fromal
writing in a valuable way, much as diary writing did.
I think that encouraging students to use e-mail can develop some sense
of audience, purpose, and above all, give developing writers practice. I
often tell my students that writing's similar to skiing -- you can't be a
writer without doing it, and the more you do it, the better you get at it.
I've tried pen-pals arrangements (which tend to be hit-and-miss, depending
on personality fits and comitment), all-student listservs (which seem to
need a large numbe of subscribers so a "critical mass" of frequent
correspondents can emerge), writing to newsgroups about special interests,
writing to experts. So far, writing to newsgroups seems to work best, but
also leads to a lot of hurt feelings -- flames, contempt, and all the
usual garbage, as well as gems, that Usenet engenders.

"Anyone who cannot cope with life while he is alive needs one hand to
ward off a little his despair over his fate... but with his other hand
he can jot down what he sees among the ruins..." -- Franz Kafka
John Oughton, Sheridan College, Box 7500, Brampton ON Canada
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