Writing Is A Technology That Restructures Thought By Walter Ong And Neil Postman

Writing Is A Technology That Restructures Thought By Walter Ong And Neil Postman

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Numerous intellectuals have debated on the effects that typography has on the mind. An example of two such intellectuals are Walter Ong and Neil Postman. In Walter Ong’s “Writing is a Technology that Restructures Thought” he describes the difference between oral and typographic cultures and the resulting effects each had on the mind while in Chapter 4 of Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death” similarly focuses on how typography has molded the way that we think, which has become very structured and writing-like, and how that effects public discourse. Overall, both their pieces serve to demonstrate how typography arrogates itself into our lives and is forever embedded in our conscious and unconscious mind, which illuminates how technology is transformative.
Initially, both Ong and Postman’s pieces go into detail about how literacy has had tremendous influence on orality. Ong explains that “Without writing, the literate mind would not and could not think as it does, not only when engaged in writing but even when it is composing its thoughts in oral form” (Ong 24). This implies that our thoughts and our discourse has transformed into a facsimile of the typographic form. This is similar to when Postman notes that literacy eventually crept into the world of orality and implanted itself in its core. Postman uses the Lincoln-Douglas debates to illustrate how typography changed the character of discourse to being more structured and content-laden, similar to literature at the time. Due to the fact that literature required readers to become analytic, serious, and objective, so did speech. However, Ong noted that orality is meant to hold things together, or “to make and retain agglomerates”, rather than be analytic. In this case I believe th...


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...ld and those around us. Typography is a technology that has arguably created the biggest impact on the development of human kind and well as the human mind. It is crucial that we are able to realize the effects that technology has in our lives and do something great with it. Just as the musician interiorized its instrument, making it second nature to him, to produce beautiful art, we must also cultivate and interiorize modern technology such as the internet to be able to make our lives a work of art. As previously stated, technology is meant to enhance, not degrade, human life. It is imperative that we see a technology for what it really is and fully reap all the possible benefits that it can have on our lives. It would serve Postman and Ong a great justice to see that their warnings and pleads have been acknowledged and facilitated in making a change for the better.

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