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The term “cyberculture” is derived from the word “cyberspace”. William Gibson’s science novel “ Neuromancer” predicted a world that man and machine merge to become a cyborg (Tribble and Trubek: 521). This prediction became reality during the end of study of the 1990s when cyberculture began to flourish. This culture exists within several cultures here on earth. Some may ask, what is cyberculture? Cyberculture studies cover the examination of the subject and the forming communities within the realms of those networked spaces that are being created through technological devices and amplifications (Silver). In this essay I will examine how technological advancements affect our fundamental habits of writing and reading.
Our “traditional” writing was not traditional in ancient times. The birth of writing itself was a new technology. This is similar to the birth of the computers years ago. The writing process is taught in grade school. It begins with brainstorming, writing a rough draft, proofreading and completing a final draft. This process is often obsolete with modern writing. Traditionally a writer uses a writing utensil and paper to create their writings. Modern technology allows us to type as we write. This occurs when a writer begins to type their thoughts as they think. I personally design a paper structure similar to the traditional format to assist in my paper creation prior to typing; however, some people sit at the computer and type as the think. Some may argue eliminating the traditional process damages the fundamentals of writing. However, I feel we brainstorm in a different way with modern writing. As the person types, he/she deletes and rearranges sentences to make the paper complete. The writer is able to use spell check or proof read from a printed copy. The fundamentals are not tarnished because the purpose of traditional process applies to the modern process as well.
I feel we should learn the traditional format of writing in addition to using the advancements of technology. "Internet is another invention in a line of modern technologies that undermine traditional notions of civil society that require unity and shun multiplicity while giving impressions that they in fact re-create such a society" We should not rely solely on technology because we must know how to function if the technology fails.
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As to be expected, such technological advancements also impacts traditional reading. History proves the ability to read was respectable. This was reserved to clerks and scholars during ancient times. However, we also learned to read during grade school. Years ago the only possibility to read was reading from paper. Technological advances have changed the way we read. It has taken the traditional text on paper reading to reading monitors. Online newspapers, articles and magazines are easily accessible as the traditional printed versions. Reading these advance documents is often labeled hypertext reading. “Hyper-reading of the constructive variety is, in my experience, a more selective process than the reading of printed text customarily allows”, (Tribble and Trubek: 404). This type of reading deviates from traditional reading which is why some object it. “Reading of whatever sort is a process of selection. To every text readers bring schema or framing notions that focus their attention on some but not all of the marked features of the text and which also supply non-linguistic clues not marked in the text”, (Tribble and Trubek: 404). Some people argue that reading on screens damages the fundamentals of reading. They claim the reader doesn’t actually read; they skim. “Aversions to reading on screen, I suspect, are widespread; few persons of my acquaintance enjoy reading long texts on their monitors. Nonetheless, reading electronic texts on screen is likely to be the predominant mode of reading in the very near future,” (Tribble and Trubek: 400). Some writers and readers have preferences. As a writer I prefer to write an outline before I convert my writings to type. As a reader, I prefer to have the text in my hands instead of reading from a screen. I find myself skimming text from the computer instead of reading it. In fact, I print important documents so I can read them completely. “When we consider the popularity of hypertexts, skimming takes on a whole new dimension. Hypertexts are designed for skimmers. Hypertexts, like proposals, are designed so that such intelligent skimming is the norm which helps readers who have too much to read,” (Tribble and Trubek: 406).
Some people feel such technological advancements undermine traditional reading and writing. I beg to differ. I feel it does not undermine it but provide an alternative to doing the same thing. It should only be considered undermining the tradition when the traditional format is not taught in grade school. Outside of the technical aspects of technology and tradition, enhancements are beneficial in production, style, and editing. Computers allow writers to create writings at a faster pace. This allows for more work to be produced. It also allows us to change font size, style and add graphics or charts. This is extremely beneficial because it allows the writer to show their creativity and offer good examples. Most importantly, technology allows us to use different editing software, which assists in critiquing writings. This aspect of writing can be thought of as hindering our fundamentals of writing. A writer may simply type in error knowing spell check will catch it. However, this is not true in all cases. This is where the fundamentals of re-reading come in to play.
Overall, I don’t think Internet phenomena changed the way we write and read. These technological advancements don’t hinder but actually help writers. The actual thoughts that are put into text either on paper or the Web are generated from the mind. This is something that cannot be altered by technology.
Silver, David. “Looking Backwards, Looking Forward: Cyberculture Studies”. 5 Jan. 2004. 28, July. 2004. <http://www.com.washington.edu/rccs/intro.asp/>
Tribble Evelyn B., Trubek Anne. “Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age”. New York: Longman, 2003.