When I started this course I believed I would have an upper hand in relating to the material, having a background in English language and literature. While reading Walter Ong’s Orality and Literacy I quickly realized that was not to be the case at all. I struggled with Ong’s “wordiness” and his blatant bias around the supremacy of print culture over oral culture and yet, when I began reading Jay David Bolter’s Writing Space the metaphorical light came on.
Through the two course texts, supporting documents, and most of all, through some incredible discussion forums I am coming away with a much clearer idea of the significance new technologies and how they impact the way we communicate with one another, understand each other (or don’t), and the way we define our culture. While I would not go so far as McLuhan to say that the “medium is the message” I certainly believe that the means by which we afford communication impact what we say, how we say it, how it is interpreted by others, and even how we preserve our cultural identity.
I have found the journey from orality to print culture to digital culture to be a fascinating one. While our class attempt to formulate a wiki on the characteristics of the three types was not as robust as I’m sure instructors had hoped for, Tim’s creation of a visual map linking ideas in the course has seemed to help bring the similarities and differences between the three to life in a really great way. (Thanks again Tim).
I like Bolter’s idea that the digital age or the “late age of print” is creating opportunities much like that of oral cultures. I would not say that our current state of communication tools have come full circle and created a “secondary oral culture” but I would say that the new digital technologies diversify and remediate some of the finer points of oral culture and print culture. Simply being able to choose a technology that best supports your communication needs – whether it be asynchronous or synchronous, visual or oral or aural, or all three…creates more dynamic, truer to life, opportunities to communicate our ideas in meaningful, robust ways. But at the same time, I still believe the value of the printed word will never full be absorbed by digital media. For many of the characteristics of print are just as valuable now as they were in the day of Gutenberg’s press. Sometimes I do want to experience a work, alone, independent of the author/designer; not all experiences need to be experienced collectively. Until we cease to be individuals I think the book is safe from obsolescence.
I could go on and on but this is supposed to be a final thought…although I know I will be thinking about the information I gained from this course as I finish off my MET courses, design online courses, work with youth in my classroom, read books, watch movies, listen to podcasts, work collaboratively face-to-face and in the digital realm, so thanks to you all for such an incredible three months of learning!