As a small child I was fascinated by the idea of writing and tried to replicte what I’d seen the grown-ups do by “writing” (basically a connected series of loops) on the walls of the house I grew up in. After I learned to write in school I spent hours and hours writing short stories (and creating logos and signs). In school we had an hour of class a day for four or five years that was completely devoted to spelling. I wasn’t a spelling star, but I was in the top five to ten per cent.
After I learned to touch type I did that for hours on end (for fun) and typesetting was a common part of my job when I worked at a newspaper (before reporters wrote their stories on computers they did so on typewriters and then typesetters re-typed the stories on a kind of primitive computer that printed the results on photographic paper).
I know this better than the back of my hand….
When I began university I bought a new electric typewriter and eventually I bought a PC (a Macintosh).
My point here is that I’ve been writing for almost all my life and I’m a well above average speller (though not in the absolute top group).
Then came the internet and before long I graduated from email and began posting on some online forums. It was then I began noticing that I was making mistakes I had never made before in any medium. Often when I was thinking ‘there’ my fingers (which have the keyboard layout of thousands and thousands of words coded into them) would type ‘their’ or ‘they’re’. I would use it’s and its interchangeably. Even more oddly, I would start mixing things like ‘bare’ and ‘bear’ among other odd things I’d never done by hand, or typewriter or computer.
Something about the way that people write online is different than even off-line computer writing (though some online mistakes have started appearing when I’m writing off-line as well).
My guess is that something about writing online as fast as you can think re-wires the brain’s connections between words and spelling so that sound trumps meaning. Probably those who begin writing on digital devices are creating brain connections that will obscure variant spellings of things that sound the same.
So the difference between it’s and its is probably a dead graphic convention walking.
It might be possible to maintain the Difference in Books and other Materials overseen by Editors but for most Purposes trying to keep the Distinction would be like trying to introduce the German Habit of capitalizing all Nouns….