Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha, has tracked life metrics since 1989, including daily outbound emails. The data are noisy, but averaged by month, works out to about 50 per day, with a mode (most frequent value) of 20-25. /Inbound/ email ranges about 300.
ReCode's Walt Mossberg reports about 350 emails/day.
The NYTimes comment moderation team handle 800 comments/day, each.
@dredmorbius I was listening to a #podcast (You Are Not So Smart; "Fallacy Fallacy" episode) about arguing & internet discourse & one of the the things that struck me was how there's a pervasive belief that we write less/are less literate because of the internet, where the reality is we collectively write way more in total and on a daily basis than we (collectively) used to.
@frankiesaxx That'd be interesting to get a real look at. I suspect we're exposed to far more causual writing now than in quite some time.
As of 1800, only about 25% of Europe's population was literate, and earlier than that rates may have been as low as 5% in rural areas. The culture of letter-writing itself had to be developed, and use of postal mail was a fairly newish tradition in the 19th century, for the general population. Books gave specific guidance on style.
@dredmorbius This is the podcast episode: https://youarenotsosmart.com/2016/01/22/yanss-067-the-fallacy-fallacy/
I can't remember if he says where the info is from; it might be the Stanford study mentioned here:
@frankiesaxx Thanks, listening.
Woah: Typical person, after high school / college: 3-10 written documents for the entire rest of their life, prior to the Internet.
I'm ... trying to think of how much I've written.
@dredmorbius Haha I know! But it was specialized labor. Amazing to think.
@frankiesaxx I'd like to know what "typical person", and distribution of writing was.
In clerical / office work, you'd see a /lot/ of writing, probably several memos, reports, and later email, per week. Easily 100+ documents/year.
Outside that, quite likely less.
@dredmorbius Yeah. I would guess you would see it specialized. It would be interesting to see that broken down.
@dredmorbius @frankiesaxx on this note I sometimes read really old stuff from Google books and one thing I noticed was it was as common for scientists writing for European audiences to write their entire papers in French as it might have been in English, even if neither were the scientists native languages (Alessandro Volta's papers about batteries and electricity for the Royal Society are a good example)
Prior to the invention of the printing press, writing (and copying) books was hugely more expensive than reading. It was far easier to standardise on language, and train readers in that common language, than to produce books in each localised language.
In labour time, a book represented 1/3 - 1/2 a man-year of labour, for the scribe alone. Plus 300 calves for the vellum. About $0.5 - $1 million.
With the printing press, paper, cheaper production costs, /increased literacy/, the equation shifted. Literacy expanded from 5% of the population to 25%, then 90%. It was cheaper to produce works in the vernacular (and print many) than teach everyone Latin (though that happened).
In the 19th century, printing rates increased from about 180 impressions/hr. to > 1 million impressions/hr., per press.
Cast iron, steam, steel, electricity, rotary presses, webbed presses.
@dredmorbius @frankiesaxx although this issue does not change in centuries : https://medievalfragments.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/paws-pee-and-mice-cats-among-medieval-manuscripts/
Generalistic and moderated instance.