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Poem By gershon hepner

There’s writing and there is orality.
With texts we reach into each others’ minds,
but with orality reality
can be as clear as windows without blinds
through which we see while we communicate,
and can be seen by others while we try
to make sure that we do not underrate
each statement’s rationale: a clear reply.

Alex Wright writes in the NYT, December 2,2007:
The growth of social networks — and the Internet as a whole — stems largely from an outpouring of expression that often feels more like “talking” than writing: blog posts, comments, homemade videos and, lately, an outpouring of epigrammatic one-liners broadcast using services like Twitter and Facebook status updates (usually proving Gertrude Stein’s maxim that “literature is not remarks”) . “If you examine the Web through the lens of orality, you can’t help but see it everywhere, ” says Irwin Chen, a design instructor at Parsons who is developing a new course to explore the emergence of oral culture online. “Orality is participatory, interactive, communal and focused on the present. The Web is all of these things.”..
As more of us shepherd our social relationships online, will this leveling effect begin to shape the way we relate to each other in the offline world as well? Dr. Wesch, for one, says he worries that the rise of secondary orality may have a paradoxical consequence: “It may be gobbling up what’s left of our real oral culture.” The more time we spend “talking” online, the less time we spend, well, talking. And as we stretch the definition of a friend to encompass people we may never actually meet, will the strength of our real-world friendships grow diluted as we immerse ourselves in a lattice of hyperlinked “friends”? Still, the sheer popularity of social networking seems to suggest that for many, these environments strike a deep, perhaps even primal chord. “They fulfill our need to be recognized as human beings, and as members of a community, ” Dr. Strate says. “We all want to be told: You exist.”


12/2/07

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