Frye was right. We’ve now moved the notion of reading horizontally rather than vertically online, and it is constantly changing the way we use text. This course has helped me gain a better understanding of how text has developed and perhaps even why some of these changes are happening today. But more importantly, it has also shown me how some of the same debates that we are now having about the impact of online spaces are really very similar to discussions that have already taken place many times over. The incorporation of a historical dialogue on the evolution of text has helped us greatly to frame any debate on what online spaces now mean to us, even if the online realm does represent a very different sort of medium.
The web has meant an explosion in access to much of humanity’s collective knowledge, but it can’t help but also feel in many ways like a repeat of lessons that we’ve already learned from the advent of moveable type, the library, or even the transfer of oral history to papyrus. These are interesting times ahead.