Inventing A Writing Technology Essay

Inventing A Writing Technology Essay

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"Inventing" A Writing Technology


According to Walter Ong, an influential scholar of the relationship between technology and media, "Literacy is imperious. It tends to arrogate to itself supreme power by taking itself as normative for human expression and thought. This is particularly true in high-technology cultures, which are built on literacy of necessity and which encourage the impression that literacy is an always to be expected and even natural state of affairs" (316). Ong would probably agree that literacy is so embedded in our current technological culture that it has become part of the standard of living, a necessary requirement for functioning in this highly professionalized world. However, the point of Ong’s prior statement is not that writing is only a necessity but that writing is a necessity which has become so internalized it is often taken for granted. The process of writing is a highly evolved, technological entity often revered as a "natural" part of life when in reality writing has been artificially created by man.

Writing is very much an artificial creation, not a natural occurrence. To illustrate how true this is and how much writing is taken for granted and internalized as natural to humans, an experiment was done. Students from Eastern Michigan University’s English 328: Writing, Style, and Technology class were challenged to invent a writing technology without using any manufactured utensils such as pens, pencils, paint, brushes, white-out pens, nail polish, electronic devices or paper. The purpose was not to invent a new alphabet but to invent a new method of writing. In addition, the assignment required the consideration of four other elements: permanence, portability, creativity, and the extent to ...


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Beginning with the first written script of the Samarians, writing has been developed and integrated into world cultures. Many cannot imagine speech without writing, and U.S. culture would probably have difficulty functioning without writing. So, to say that writing is natural is one of the most incorrect statements of all time because, in truth, writing is one of the most invaluable, and highly-developed technologies existing worldwide today.

Works Cited

Barron, Dennis. "From Pencils to Pixels: The Stages of Literacy Technologies." Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Comp. Evelyn B. Tribble & Anne Trubek. New York: Longman, 2003. 35-53.

Ong, Walter. "Writing Is a Technology that Restructures Thought." Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Comp. Evelyn B. Tribble & Anne Trubek. New York: Longman, 2003. 315-337.

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