Text as Technology

Text as the written word is a technology to capture orality. Ong describes text as technology on page 8 without really saying it in a couple of places. First he describes the world of sound as the natural habitat of language: “Written texts all have to be related somehow directly or indirectly, to the world of sound, the natural habitat of language, to yield their meanings”. In a second passage, he describes the relationship between oral expression and writing: “Oral Expression can exist and mostly has existed without any writing at all, writing never without orality.


The image above captures these thoughts of Ong for me. The other interesting message in this image is, with books, anyone can be a story teller and practice orality by reading out load to an audience of at least one. Whether it be to a large number of people at a book launch or author reading or the attentive and intimate moments when a parent reads to their child. This led me to search the Internet and You Tube to see if I could find a reading or a video of my sons favourite book “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown. It was easy to find and here it is:

“In the great green room …..”


“Good night noises, everywhere.”

It would be interesting to hear your accounts of reading Goodnight moon, either as a child or an adult.

Ong, W. (1982). Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the World. London: Routledge.
Brown, M. W. (1947) Goodnight Moon. USA: Harper and Row.

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