Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Books In A World Of Spoken Words

4,181 views

Published on

Published in: Education, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

Books In A World Of Spoken Words

  1. 1. Books in a World of Spoken Words Michael Bhaskar
  2. 3. Oral Culture to Literate Culture and Back <ul><li>The shift from oral culture to literate cultures only happened 6000 years ago </li></ul><ul><li>First culture to be literate was Mesopotamian </li></ul><ul><li>They developed cuneiform writing </li></ul><ul><li>Everyday we are becoming a less literate culture- we are watching the transition back to an oral culture </li></ul><ul><li>What does this mean for the book? What do books even look like in an oral culture? </li></ul>
  3. 4. <ul><li>This isn’t the first time. </li></ul><ul><li>Thinkers have been wrestling with these issues for years. </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural change involves anxiety. Those working with books are getting anxious. </li></ul><ul><li>Three thinkers: </li></ul>
  4. 5. Socrates
  5. 6. Socrates on Literacy <ul><li>Socrates was not a fan. He lived in 5 th -4 th century BCE Athens and witnessed first hand the transition from an oral to a literate society. He despaired of this change as an impediment to “the truth” and martialled three arguments: </li></ul><ul><li>The inflexibility of the written word. It is a “dead discourse” that does not go back and forth. Writing cannot speak back. </li></ul><ul><li>Memory’s destruction. In ancient Greece rote learning was held in high esteem and was culturally important (e.g. The Iliad). Writing relegates the place of memory. </li></ul><ul><li>A loss of control. Socrates worried that everyone could access learning and then abuse it . He worried this would create what Maryanne Wolff calls a “superficial understanding”. </li></ul>
  6. 7. Walter Ong
  7. 8. Walter Ong <ul><li>Wrote a key text Orality and Literacy in 1982. </li></ul><ul><li>Provides an in depth comparison of oral and chirographic culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Of 3000 world languages on 78 have fully literate culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Ong argues that oral works of literature are shaped by their spokeness- e.g. Have formulaic and repetitive language. </li></ul>
  8. 9. Ong: 9 features of oral thought <ul><li>Expression is additive rather than subordinate. </li></ul><ul><li>It is aggregative rather than analytic. </li></ul><ul><li>It tends to be redundant or “copious”. </li></ul><ul><li>There is a tendency for it to be conservative. </li></ul><ul><li>Out of necessity thought is conceptualised and then expressed with relatively close reference to the “lifeworld”. </li></ul><ul><li>Expression is agonistically toned. </li></ul><ul><li>It is empathetic and participatory rather than objectively distanced. </li></ul><ul><li>It is homeostatic. </li></ul><ul><li>It is situational rather than abstract. </li></ul>
  9. 10. <ul><li>Oral narratives are characterised by “little regard of a linear plot structure, flat characters, and focusing on interaction with the audience”- this aids memory. </li></ul><ul><li>Ong suggested that with the growth of electronic communications we are entering an era of “secondary orality”. </li></ul><ul><li>TV, radio, the telephone are like orality in the way they foster group membership: “A more deliberate and self conscious orality based permanently on the use of writing and print”. </li></ul>
  10. 11. Jacques Derrida
  11. 12. <ul><li>Talked about the relationship between orality and literacy. Held that they contain the “trace” of the other. </li></ul><ul><li>Argued that orality has been privileged because orality is marked by presence; literacy is marked by the constant deferral of meaning. </li></ul><ul><li>Yet equally orality is defined as being oral by not being writing. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Living speech” has “self presence”. Traditions of Western thought implies this has originality and authenticity, is the locus of meaning. Writing is an adjunct. </li></ul><ul><li>Really? </li></ul>
  12. 13. <ul><li>So there isn’t a simple relationship. </li></ul>
  13. 14. <ul><li>We do know that reading changes your brain. The act of learning to read makes connections between areas of the brain non-existent in illiterate people. </li></ul>
  14. 15. The Shift <ul><li>This has been happening for a hundred years- telephone, radio, TV etc. </li></ul><ul><li>More telephone calls are made on an average workday in the UK, than in all of 1980 in the UK. </li></ul><ul><li>Two hundred billion hours of TV are watched every year in the states. </li></ul>
  15. 16. Meanwhile... <ul><li>Reading has been going down </li></ul><ul><li>National Endowment for the Arts makes bad reading </li></ul><ul><li>Americans are reading less </li></ul><ul><li>15-24 yr olds spend 2 hours a day watching TV; 7 minutes reading </li></ul><ul><li>Only 47% of US adults read books of any kind. </li></ul><ul><li>Americans are reading less well- reading scores are deteriorating across the board. </li></ul>
  16. 17. <ul><li>Thus it ever was- in 1841 33% and 44% of women in the UK were fully illiterate. </li></ul>
  17. 18. But now text is becoming like speech <ul><li>Reciprocity- there is the sense of immediate reply. Exchange and writing are more interconnected than ever. </li></ul>
  18. 19. <ul><li>For better or for worse commenting is now a part of content- being replied to part of writing. Reciprocity is a part of the web. </li></ul>
  19. 20. <ul><li>Not to mention instant messaging </li></ul>
  20. 21. <ul><li>...and of course micro-blogging </li></ul>
  21. 22. <ul><li>Spontaneity. Instantaneous communication means that we can create, discuss and write at the speed of typing (as it were). There is no process of filtering, re-working and editing. </li></ul>
  22. 23. <ul><li>Presence. The ambient intimacy engendered through social networking sites and that very spontaneity requires and replicates a sense of presence, a there-ness. </li></ul>
  23. 24. <ul><li>That’s all even before we talk about VoIP. </li></ul>
  24. 25. <ul><li>Cacophony. The profileration and intersection of voices is like the sound of a crowded room- only organised. </li></ul>
  25. 26. <ul><li>Feeds combine multiple sources of personal information, they integrate communication. Like talking to two people at once. </li></ul>
  26. 27. <ul><li>The renewal of multimedia. Non-literate cultural products- photos, music, films more deeply and widely shared, discovered and created. </li></ul>
  27. 28. Like a stream of consciousness- of things. Is this what talking to yourself looks like in 2009?
  28. 29. So..... <ul><li>Text is becoming like speech: </li></ul><ul><li>Reciprocity </li></ul><ul><li>Spontaneity </li></ul><ul><li>Presence </li></ul><ul><li>Cacophony </li></ul><ul><li>Multimedia </li></ul><ul><li>Secondary orality is not just about the growth of a new oral culture- it is about the transformation of writing into an oral culture. </li></ul>
  29. 30. <ul><li>Think about texting.... </li></ul>
  30. 31. Txtspk is gr8 <ul><li>Txtspk is taking us back in time. </li></ul><ul><li>Unlike modern English, but much like cuneiform, it has simple and consistent graphological and phonological rules. </li></ul><ul><li>Irregurality, complexity and irrelevance are phased out. </li></ul><ul><li>Writing for and from speech. </li></ul>
  31. 33. Txtspk is more than spking <ul><li>The use of emoticons are all about visual representations ;-) </li></ul><ul><li>Goes back to the other early writing form- hieroglyphics. </li></ul><ul><li>Literal depiction is reversing the graphological abstraction of text. </li></ul>
  32. 34. <ul><li>The way we read is changing fast. We are reading more like we speak- with greater impatience and lack of reflection. This isn’t necessarily bad. </li></ul>
  33. 35. The New Book is Already Here- There Is No Point In Waiting For It
  34. 36. From this to this
  35. 37. And this to this...
  36. 38. And this to this...
  37. 39. <ul><li>The form of the digital book, of web native forms of communication are now becoming clear. </li></ul><ul><li>The shift out of a literate culture is maybe inevitable. </li></ul><ul><li>Secondary orality is the new literacy for a world where perfecting continuous partial attention is an advantage. </li></ul><ul><li>Ong, Derrida and Socrates each sees positives in orality. </li></ul><ul><li>It is up to us to make sure that the change is a progressive step, not a backward one. </li></ul>
  38. 40. <ul><li>Isn’t this meant to be about books? Real books? And experiments? </li></ul>
  39. 41. Some small points about books in an oral culture <ul><li>They are shorter. </li></ul><ul><li>They are smaller. </li></ul><ul><li>They are cheaper. </li></ul><ul><li>Or they are bigger and more expensive. </li></ul><ul><li>Ordinary hardbacks are finished. </li></ul><ul><li>Books are disposable items- or valuable objects. </li></ul>
  40. 42. Like this or this
  41. 43. More points <ul><li>Books need hyperlinks </li></ul><ul><li>Books need to be designed to be read with a computer, read as a supplement </li></ul><ul><li>Books are on and made in mobiles- e.g. Keitai shosetsu </li></ul><ul><li>Books written in the demotic, written in txtspk </li></ul><ul><li>Books as records of verbal and online activity </li></ul>
  42. 44. <ul><li>So the foundations of book culture and the book itself have shifted towards the spoken. What experiments might be done to test what happens to books? </li></ul>
  43. 45. COULD WE HAVE A SPOKEN NOVEL NOT WRITTEN AND NOT RECORDED? A NOVEL THAT EXISTS ONLY AS MUCH AS IT IS SPOKEN?
  44. 46. COULD WE HAVE A NOVEL NOT WRITTEN AND NOT RECORDED THAT WORKS LIKE CHINESE WHISPERS AND CONSTANTLY MUTATES? IS MODERN MEDIA THIS KIND OF NOVEL?
  45. 47. Might most books one day come like this? What can we do with it?
  46. 48. MIGHT BOOKS GO BACK TO BEING STATUS SYMBOLS? BLING BOOKS, DIAMOND INCRUSTED BOOKS FOR THE GLOBAL SUPER-RICH. HOW EXCLUSIVE CAN YOU MAKE A NEW BOOK?
  47. 49. Can anyone write a book using these? Or like the Independent picture puzzles.
  48. 50. Conclusions <ul><li>Secondary orality has gone further than we originally thought- the written word is starting to resemble the spoken </li></ul><ul><li>This isn’t necessarily bad </li></ul><ul><li>Besides we know what the digital book is like anyway </li></ul><ul><li>Plus if we look at the macro trends we can start working with them </li></ul><ul><li>And we might as well start thinking some odd thoughts- when Youtube is the search engine of choice, there is no other option for the book </li></ul>
  49. 51. The End. Thank you! <ul><li>Michael Bhaskar </li></ul><ul><li>10membranes.com </li></ul>

×