E. B. White on the Writer’s Responsibility

I do feel a responsibility to society because of going into print: a writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false; lively, not dull; accurate, not full of error. He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.

—E. B. White, quoted here

This is a powerful reminder to all of us who write for online readers. We aren’t “going into print”—but we are publishing.

Someone who models White’s principles is Paul Graham. His latest piece defies some conventions of online writing—and still works.