The only thing I feel that is actually inherent to the net is the hyperlink. Which is useful in letting information, references, or otherwise sit closer to the text than a footnote; but then can be often used in the place of explanation, thought, or perspective.
Though as one tech writer said at a talk a few days ago, ‘clicking is through, it’s all about scrolling now.’ Which as a writer hasn’t impacted things much yet (I don’t think Triple Canopy’s sideways scroll constitutes much of a shift, though it’s good and more things like this should exist). This will keep changing, say with web design incorporating users’ movement into a pseudo-interactive proto-cinematic/animation motion: http://feature.rollingstone.com/feature/the-geeks-on-the-frontlines, but how that effects writing I’m not sure – part of me thinks it’s just like showy open credits animation, and the business of writing and reading will still requite stability for transmission.
I guess to pick up on previous bits: it appears, and seems generally assumed, that there is less at stake online, when actually we need to treat it that more actually is at stake. When something is so volatile and highly circulate-able, then the quality and substance of the thing being shared should be worth it. Thoroughly-researched, well written, readable. Literature by any other form. So just to interpret your question slightly differently, there is a difference in stakes but in that there is a danger of misunderestimating the platform.
I think again, the idea that paying less attention to things online is there; but when I think about the way I flip through magazines and books, and flit and put them down, and come back months or years later, I think the attention is exactly the same. If something catches my attention, is good, or suits my mood, then I’ll follow it to the end. Maybe it’s also personal reading proclivities – I tend to try and seek out longform stuff, in that at least you’ve ‘arrived’ at something. Which maybe it’s good to differentiate – you can tell pretty quickly if something is written in a Hyperallergic/This Is Tomorrow/generic online re-hashed press-release sort of way, which are places where the trope of online writing is self-fulfilling. But then there’s some amazing long form stuff out there (examples I can think of and keep going back to: http://www.thebaffler.com/salvos/the-meme-hustler, http://westspacejournal.org.au/article/summer-2013/the-agile-union/, or more recently, and less writerly but still interesting http://deadspin.com/the-future-of-the-culture-wars-is-here-and-its-gamerga-1646145844)
I don’t ascribe any importance to social network spread; while it is certainly gratifying to see shared links, ‘likes’, re-tweets, or spiked visitor numbers on your blog, I don’t think it reflects people actually reading. Perhaps noticing, and maybe filing away mentally for another time. Which isn’t to say I’m cynical about readers, but simply that it seems to serve a more social (i.e. seen/being seen/showing public appreciation) function rather than a practical one (i.e. more people getting to read the piece).
It does allow it seems for a *slightly* larger amount of feedback, in that social networks allow a more porous sense of ‘access’ to the writer, but I’m not sure it gives any better picture of who actually makes up ‘my’ audience.
I think that the trope of online writing – essentially a form of public diaristic commentary, with added hyperlinks – is there, and that has come to be expected by writer and reader: shorter, less research, referencing only online sources. I consciously try to avoid this, and keep a tone and atmosphere that would sit in either. It my be delusional on my part.
That said, of several online articles, one was commissioned as a ‘Postcard From…’ on a blog, in which writers report from a location travelled to; the editor encouraged including how you got somewhere, and images taken while on the road, things I would never otherwise incorporate into my writing. So there has been cases where the publishing host has called on parts of the blog trope.
I guess firstly I should set out my stall: I think the main difference between online writing and print writing is mostly an outcome of expectation, and the stereotyped forms that people encounter on various sites. I don’t think it’s any inherent way of reading on the screen or distracted clicking that determines what happens in online writing. Which is to say, I don’t think there is any difference between online or print.
Essentially no, I think I write the same for both. But having said that, there are very few things written for print that aren’t online, and if they aren’t put online by the publisher/organiser, then I generally try to make a point for things to be available, downloadable or findable in some form online.