Language as technology

Orson Welles

[I posted this last week, but forgot to categorize it, sorry about that.]

I chose this picture of Orson Welles the night he performed “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells, on October 30th, 1938 in the United States on the CBS radio network. In the course we have read about how language is technology and it shapes human consciousness (Module 1), and what better example of language doing just that. On the one hand we had the original text, brilliantly written, become and oral text that together with other technology (the radio), and the actors voice, managed to convince 1.2 million people that the Martians had landed (Campbell, 2011); though it was not the intent.

The radio alone did not achieve this; it was the text in the voice of the actor simulating a news flash. It was a combination of an old means of communication, an oral text, with a modern one, the radio. I can’t help but find a parallel with the Internet. Is the Internet the technology? It alone cannot shape consciousness, it’s the content that does that, and the content is language in its many forms.

Campbell, W.J (2011). “The Halloween myth of The War of the Worlds panic”. BBC News Magazine. Retrieved http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15470903
10/Sept/2012.

Well, H.G (1898). “The War of the Worlds”. Available online at http://www.online-literature.com/wellshg/warworlds/

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2 Responses to Language as technology

  1. joypenner says:

    Fascinating insights!

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