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Walter J. Ong Review of Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. Routledge, 1982 Jean A. Jacobson, University of Minnesota

“The sequential processing and spatializing of the word, initiated by writing and raised to new order of intensity by print, is further intensified by the computer, which maximizes commitment of the word to space and to (electronic) local motion and optimizes analytic sequentiality by making it virtually instantaneous.” (136)
Ong’s history of print, including remarks on lists and on indexes proposes a transformation of consciousness that accompanies the move from orality to literacy and print. The move to print includes the technology of virtually identical reproduction of pages, as well as text and images. Modern science developed from such technology.

As the book gives way for certain purposes to the computer (and Ong theorizes that the book will remain an important and sometimes preferred technology alongside the computer) will a “secondary orality” come into play? Can the noetic navigation of “places” on the Internet be that play? Ong says yes.

Has an evolution in human consciousness been under way as a continuation of Ong’s discussion of the interiorization of words and print? When a medium like hypertext meets late twentieth century readers and writers, will they make choices from lists of links and as a result know simultaneously a more open-ended and more interiorized experience of language and meaning? Will readers and writers experience an intensified “sequential processing and spatializing of the word?” Ong says yes. (136)

I have just come across Ong. Student of Mcluhan apparently. I am looking for more stuff…

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