A free, comprehensive, peer-reviewed, award-winning Open Text for students and faculty in college-level courses that require writing and research.

Online Writing & Online Identity

Along with sound and witty advice about how to write well in the workplace, the Third Edition of Business Writing: What Works, What Won’t busts a few myths about social media . . .

MYTH: Social media (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) have contributed to the erosion of writing skills today—in schools and in the workplace.

Mark Zuckerberg claimed in a 2010 interview that we all only have “one identity” (as cited in Mainwaring, 2010). But as we have witnessed social networking sites (SNSs) set up shop across vastly different communities for vastly different purposes, it has become clear that Zuckerberg cannot be right. While there may be similarities found in an individual’s Facebook, LinkedIn, and Ravelry profiles, the differing target audiences, interfaces, and SNS purposes make it easy for an individual to create and express a plurality of social identities.

M. C. Morgan's wiki is at https://biro.erhetoric.org

The Simplest Writing Space

Wikis were designed with simplicity in mind: The writing space is minimal—a text field. The controls are pedestrian—Edit and Save. The formatting is fundamental—Type to enter text, hit return twice to create paragraphs. Use equal signs or hash signs for headings, slashes for emphasis, enclose links in double-brackets, or just paste in urls. The tools are basic—Create and link new pages by using WikiWords.

Netiquette, a hybrid word combining “network” and “etiquette,” essentially refers to the social code of the Internet.

As such, netiquette -- how we communicate, treat others, portray ourselves, and protect ourselves online -- is a question of ethics. Ethics, or moral philosophy, refers generally to how groups and individuals determine moral courses of action. Because ethics refers to the way groups and individuals relate to, treat, and resolve issues with each other, digital ethics then encompasses how users and participants in online environments interact with each other and the technologies and platforms used to engage.

Taking Control: Managing Your Online Identity for the Job Search


In 2008, while working as a career counselor, a student came into my office to discuss her difficulty securing an internship prior to graduation. On paper, she was a phenomenal candidate—3.8 GPA, active in student government, successful athlete, and in possession of solid letters of recommendation from her instructors, coaches, and past employers. Despite her many strengths, she had interviewed with seven prospective employers throughout her junior year but was unable to secure the internship that was required by her academic program.

College students are often required to use e-mail to communicate with instructors, staff, advisors, and peers. As their studies advance, students may also use e-mail to contact professionals in their field for service-learning or job opportunities. College is the beginning of students’ professional lives, and e-mail messages can reflect positively or negatively on their professional image.

E-mail Accounts

Most colleges provide students with a college e-mail account—use it! Here’s why:

How might you more effectively integrate multimedia components into your assignment?

“Let rhetoric be an ability, in each case, to see the available means of persuasion.”
– Aristotle, 
Rhetoric (1.2.1)

With great resources comes great responsibility.

Composition does not merely refer to the writing of words on a paper or in a word processing document but also includes the holistic act of using all forms of media (images, videos, sounds, and texts) in a variety of different mediums (paper, blogs, websites, YouTube, podcasts, etc.).

If you’re like most people, when you hear the word wiki, you automatically think of Wikipedia. Almost anyone who uses the Internet has used Wikipedia from time to time to learn more about any of the millions of topics it covers in its four million pages. Indeed, it might seem harder not to use Wikipedia than to use it since its pages tend to come up first, or at least in the top five, of most Google searches, and most surveys of the world’s most popular websites put Wikipedia in the top ten. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine what the internet would be like today without wikis!

LinkedIn is a social networking site (SNS) used for making valuable career connections and finding that critical first job. As a student, it’s important to have a LinkedIn profile that highlights the expertise you bring to a potential employer. Your degree, the courses you took, major projects completed, and your college jobs and affiliations all combine to create a picture of who you are and what you can do.

However, LinkedIn can be a bit disconcerting. Its pages show professionals with lists of jobs and accomplishments that can be intimidating. Almost no one with a LinkedIn profile page is a person the average student can relate to. The whole LinkedIn thing, students tell me, is off-putting to anyone who’s still in college.

What is blogging? How is blogging "academic"? Most importantly, why is my teacher asking me to blog?

It’s likely that some, if not all, of these questions come to mind as your first-year composition professor introduces blogging as a form of academic writing. Yes, blogging can be academic. But how? More importantly, how is blogging a way of connecting lofty, intellectual topics with “real world” arguments?

On the most general level, blogs provide spaces for productive conversations about the relationship between writing and audience. What does this mean? 

Some instructors assign weekly or biweekly discussion board posts or other regular informal writing assignments, and oftentimes they require you to respond to your peers’ writing. Responding to your classmates can be an awkward or uncomfortable task because  you might not want to offend them or say something silly.

As a result of this pervasive discomfort, students often just respond to a post in one of the following ways: