Posted by: delphine criscenzo | November 9, 2012

Coming Full Circle

There were several times while reading the first half of The Shallows, What the Internet is doing to our Brains when I encountered new information. Many forms of media were discussed and I was surprised to learn so much about the creation of the book for example. Here is an item that I use daily and greatly enjoyed, however, I felt so ignorant about its conception. I guess I was taking this great tool for granted.

Carr explains that books were first only read out loud and he described Saint Augustin’s amazement when he saw Ambrose reading silently. Carr expresses how in cultures that use letter-based-alphabets “no spaces separated the words in early writing … words ran together without any break across every line on every page.” He goes on to say that “the lack of word separation reflected language’s origins in speech.” (Carr, 2011: 61) People would read out loud to facilitate the understanding of the book, further highlighting the oral component of the first books.

Carr also points out how a lot of people do not read much anymore. He explains that they lose focus or interest after reading a couple of paragraphs online. Many internet content producers are keeping this fact in mind when they publish work. Newspapers agencies for example often accompany text with video to keep their audience engaged.

I feel that there is an interesting connection that can be made between the fact that books were first transcriptions of oral speech and the new tendency of internet consumers to stay away from text but devour video and audio content. Could it be that this technology has come full circle, from oral speech to written content, back to verbal communication?

Text is often used to explore very complex issues, using many words. Knowing that less and less people read, as journalists how to we keep highlighting the complexity of things while producing something that people will be engaged with?

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