We all learned to write in more or less the same way: Beginning, middle, end; Subject, predicate, object; Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Beyond consisting of three items, each of these approaches shares another common theme: Inclusion. Everything necessary to understand the point is expressed explicitly on the page.
When we write for the Web, we should use the Web's strengths to our advantage. This begins with thinking a little bit deeper about how information is constructed, because the Web can offer writers the benefit of both clarity and brevity.
This post is an example: If you already recognized the concepts I used to build my argument, you're almost done reading. If you didn't, you can follow the links and read my explanations. And if you follow each back to its beginning, you'll find some definitive statements. Referencing one definitive statement for any concept or fact is an idea software engineers call "The DRY Principle," and I believe it's important to the future of both journalism and civilization.
Learning to write this way is a bit like playing three-dimensional chess, but it also reminds me of The Glass Bead Game. Sadly, writers today lack the technological tools and display conventions that would fully support and reward the required effort. But I suspect the ideas demonstrated here could lead us toward new ways of thinking and communicating that are far better adapted to the world we now inhabit.
Image: This post as a rough semantic outline.Click to see full-size.