> I would think part of the reason people use capitalization >instead of italic text, especially on the internet, is simply >ease of use or being uneducated in computer ways. I would bet >we tend to feel as if the people we are conversing with are >usually friendly, and some of the things we let slide can be >compared to the use of slang. > I for one see no way to do this ( italic ) in this simple >response box I am typing in.Some other forums I am on give me >the ability to change color, bold face and the like. > It seems we are also unable to indent our paragraphs in our >posts.That is correct in the written language. > >(I did indent in my response.Let's see how it actually posts)
You've raised a great example of how language and grammar are changing - appropriately I think - to accommodate better readability and higher comprehension online. Indenting the first line of a paragraph is very important for readability and comprehension of subject separation and thought separation when producing physically printed writing. Page widths are controlled in ways which prevent long scan widths and which thereby guide the eye from the end of one line to the beginning of the next.
The problem with displayed text is that line widths are very often much too long. For example, people set email client windows far too wide, and as a result end up reading lines that are too often fifteen or twenty words in length. We're not built to accurately scan from such line ends accurately to the beginning of the next line or to the start of the next paragraph. Hence, paragraph starts for displayed text have evolved into blocks preceded by a blank line. It works to speed up reading, improve eye/line scanning accuracy, and improve reading comprehension.
Indented, unspaced paragraph starts in digital displays are appropriate when we're using a word processor to produce a document that will be printed, e.g., business letters, manuscripts, reports, etc. But for email, forum posts, texting and other transmitted, disply-only communciation, I think lead line indents and lack of paragraph spacing are messy and reduce comprehension.
As far as not seeing any way to do italic emphasis in this simple response box, jump into the entirely inescapable ubiquity of online communication formatting by clicking once on the "HTML Reference" link to the left of the response box. You'll find simple codes - no more difficult to use than 'Smiley' shorthand - which provide highly useful formatting niceties such as italics, bolding, underline and strike-through. S'easy. All online forums offer these simple tools, and I think everyone who participates online in forums should develop at least a passing familiarity with text formatting codes. In my opinion, we'll only become better communicators for doing so.