Crying over spilled ink

A quick note today while things are fresh in my mind. We used to say that when a story was covered extensively by the media that a lot of ink was spilled on its account. Of course, this refers to the decidedly old timey process of actually writing something in ink… you know, with a pen…by hand. Remember?

Anyhow, I’ve seen in more than one online post the new phrase “spilled electrons” or “to spill electrons,” as in “a great deal of ink and electrons are being spilled” or “a lot of ink and electrons have been spilled over this one in recent weeks” or any similar variation on that theme. This, of course, refers to the process of writing digitally… you know, typing? Blogging?

Interestingly, at least for now, the “spilled electrons” phrase seems to be paired with its “spilled ink” grandfather, as if people just won’t quite get the metaphor otherwise. I don’t think this will last, though. Pretty soon, writers will be spilling electrons all over the Web with nary a mention of old inky. “Spilling electrons” or some similar jive-talking, slang cousin will be a common term for writing, and our dialog will start to sound even more like a William Gibson novel than it already does.


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