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Publishing: an overview of history and social impacts

March 13, 2012

This weeks lecture and readings focused on the changes in the way information is spread and publically known. I found the first few points in the lecture interesting by showing similarities and differences between the traditional forms of publishing and where we are heading. Such as comparing smoke signals (alerting the public) to the use of print culture and telecommunication (e.g. internet). These changes throughout time refer to the concepts of orality and literacy. In Walter Ong’s book ‘Orality and literacy: the technologizing of the word’, he researches both concepts and finds that, at times, the transmission of both concepts are not in fact reliable. Ong investigates whether the use of oral traditions are truly passed down accurately. It seems that every time one passes down the information to another we tend to recreate it. They may claim that the information/story is the same but how are they able to check that? The reliability of literacy comes under scrutiny as well the use of writing as it is thought to be inhuman and unnatural. Writing externalises our thoughts and cannot defend itself unlike in oral cultures where real speech and thought exists in the context of ‘give and take’ between real persons (Ong: 106). Writing can also become abstract where things have changed from their specific contexts. When reading a written text, one can think without having to discuss the text. This can lead to a change in their views and to a different sense of self than what may have been if they were informed through spoken words.

From this lecture and the readings, I see that in today’s information age, the changes from an oral culture have resulted in a strong print and telecommunications system where the use of various ereaders or iPads are now becoming the prevailing source of publishing.

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