Literacy and the Human

Literacy has allowed for humans to record ideas and continually store masses upon masses of information to develop those ideas and advance them.

Pen and parchment followed by the printing press and now digital technology have contributed immensely to the advancement of human civilizations and societies.

Yet the idea that these modicums for storage have allowed for the advancement of human beings in terms of the individual self is questionable.

Take for example a mobile phone. How many people can honestly say they know even ten per cent of the phone numbers contained in their contacts book from memory?

Although a minor example, it highlights a negative externality of technological advancement.

Furthermore by definition this also includes any device throughout the history that has allowed for the storage of information, however primitive it may seem at the present time.

Such a process has resulted in striping information from the human mind and placing it in devices from without.

Walter Ong in his work, Technologizing the World, puts this more succinctly as, “separating the knowledge from the knower.”


This is part of a series of pieces on the relationship between orality and literacy, which shall explore the concept of recording information.


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