Re: PWC's conclusions
"I wonder how many millennials were focused on writing, which doesn't lend itself to collaboration, at least in a live setting."
As someone who's served as a TA for millennial undergraduates, I'd guess, "Not much." That said, I think it's an interesting academic question that could have real world consequences.
In terms of proper mechanics, most people have abysmal writing skills. But I think it's a little difficult to characterize the extent to which collaboration is changing things for better or worse. Here's what is clear: Text-based communication is more ubiquitous, mobile, collaborative, and "real time" than ever. As a result, the majority of what we write for someone else's consumption exists in a new, unprecedentedly dynamic framework.
If more interactions occur via instant message and texts, for example, then abbreviations, shorthand and slang become more accepted in popular and even formal lexicons. Even in business correspondences, for example, I see a surprising amount of social media shorthand. It became so familiar in one common mode of writing that it translated to another, in other words.
I suspect this sort of mutation in our writing will only accelerate; over time, our collaborative tools have grown more multi-faceted, with greater support for mixed media messaging, and deeper integration into the Web. As a result, the sort of linguistic changes that were once confined to regional communities now have viral potential.
I find it difficult to say definitely whether all of this is good or bad. The English major inside me feels a twinge of horror at text message abbreviations, as they discourage young people from internalizing proper syntax, grammar and spelling. But some of these rules are more valuable than others. I tend to roll my eyes when professional writers use "less" when they mean "fewer," so I'm not the best judge.
Even so, it occurs to me that language's evolution can be judged at least two ways: In terms of craft and poetics, and in terms of efficacy. Society's new attitude toward writing skills undeniably threatens certain traditions in the former category, though one can argue that the new attitude also creates the potential for new forms of expression, as well as new conceptions of collective authorship. Regarding the latter, I think it's a mixed bag. The rate of change threatens standardization and causes confusion. But it also lets us communicate more, if often inanely. At some point, the sheer volume of information exchanged has to have a positive effect, right? It's hard to say. Something like Twitter, for example, enables one to absorb many more ideas than one could with a traditional newspaper. But then again, most of that information is absorbed at surface level, or within the context of pre-defined echo chambers. So while we're altering linguistic norms to facilitate this increased volume, we're not necessarily creating greater better or deeper communication-- just the conditions for it. So like I said, it's hard to characterize the effect on writing positively or negatively.
Also, just to be clear: I'm musing specifically on how writing skills could be impacted. I think millenials' attraction toward collaboration is positive on the whole, and that the writing question is only a subset of this article's larger themes.