A List Apart is required reading for most of the web developers and designers I know. The comments made about this article on writing for the “living web” imply that many bloggers found the piece to be common sense or common knowledge, but I think it’s a great piece for new web writers–like most of my students. I’ll definitely use this piece as background as part of the blogging assignment for my course this fall.
I think it’s important to students who are using blogs, wikis, Flickr and other social tools to understand that they are participating in a medium that is much different than a book. This new web isn’t made up of “finished, unchanging creations–as polished and as fixed as books or posters”.
For students writing for a class assignment, the following is good advice, though difficult to follow:
If your site belongs to a product, a project, or an enterprise [or a class], you must still find a way to represent its passion and excitement. If you do not understand why your product is compelling or comprehend the beauty of your enterprise, find the reason or [consider not taking the class.
Other good advice for students is to “let the story unfold.” Too few web sites feature good stories built with the tools that creative writers and journalists have developed over the years to gain and sustain interest. This section has some good reminders for experienced writers, and suggests some interesting exercises and assignments for course work.