Thursday, May 13, 2010

Electronic Literacy and Print Literacy: What Will Stay the Same?

1. Widespread availability of the printed word to the general consumer brought about dynamic changes in the nature of language. It literally added another dimension to the relationship between words and their meanings for both the person giving the information and for the receiver. Ong discusses how the inception of written word changed the way we think about the words themselves: “Print situates words in space more relentlessly than writing ever did. Writing moves words from the sound world to a world of visual space, but print locks words into position in this space” (Ong 119). Oral literacy had no need for words to need to fit into a specific area, so the requirements of space were not needed or even considered; now, with common use of personal electronics and the generally small viewing area of many new media devices, only encourages this need to words to occupy a particular amount of space. This relationship between the written word and the original idea of meaning in the oral tradition has changed the way that we interpret words and the way that we view meaning. The movement to electronic media has changed the way that we receive information and the way that we interpret the information that we are receiving. However, while electronic literacy has changed many elements of our understanding of language, there are many factors that remain very similar. The primary element that has been retained from traditional written media is that it takes words, which have come from the oral tradition, and has put them into the visual realm, forcing spatial requirements on the otherwise formless words, it is near impossible for someone to not think about the written equivalent of a word when hearing it. This move from auditory to visual requires words to have a distinct pattern of understanding that exists both outside and along with the traditional definition meaning of the word. This pattern is the way that we understand the way that words go together in a specific way as defined by the rules of the spoken language. This is something that has translated into electronic mediums intact from the traditional printed text. I thought that for the end of this post (and of the classwork for this book) I would like to share a link to a site that I found on Ong and some additional commentary he made for the book, that I thought would be interesting to anyone who wanted any further information on comment on the ideas of electronic literacy and secondary orality.

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