Are Writers Obsolete?

The best writing connects the reader to the emotions and thoughts of the author or the author’s subjects. Divulge on the page what we have shielded within and the reader will stay with the story until the last paragraph. But as we become accustomed to Tweets and Instagrams are we also becoming less inclined to read anything over 140 characters long? (at this point this is 319 characters and counting; still reading?)

The on-line magazine Slate goes so far as to label each story with how many minutes are needed to read the story. (This will take one and a half minutes more.Hang in there.) Given the constant barrage of “writing” we get each day from family, friends and acquaintances who share their every meal and sentiment with us, is there still a need for the the narrative writer to lay open the soul?

Writers are no longer necessary to write sports reports. Computers at Narrative Science ( are able to turn raw data, such as sports scores, into readable copy like the following that appeared in Bloomberg Business Magazine: “Michigan held off Iowa for a 7-5 win on Saturday. The Hawkeyes (16-21) were unable to overcome a four-run sixth inning deficit. The Hawkeyes clawed back in the eighth inning, putting up one run ( Yes, a computer wrote ‘clawed’.

Right now Narrative Science generates copy for industries that rely on data such as crime statistics and medical surveys. But the day when Narrative Science is able to turn out romance novels using stock adjectives such as heaving, moist, misty, or mournfully may not be far off. Maybe it will fulfill the dreams of high school seniors and write college applications using words such as purposeful,volunteer and the ever-popular “I clawed my way to the top of my senior class….”

I’m not discouraged. Until the day computers experience loneliness or love, writers will be needed to describe and record human experience. When we read something that resonates, we are connected not only to the writer but to everyone who has read the same thing; reading words that move us, gives us a shared experience even when we are alone.

Yikes, the promised 90 seconds of reading is almost up. Keep on tweeting and posting and texting. This is one writer who is betting writers will be necessary if for no other reason than to write copy for the Narrative Science website.

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