The Inescapable Town Square

L. M. Sacasas at The New Atlantis:

At the heart of Ong’s analysis is the understanding that each major transition in media technology — that is, in the means of communication — transformed or restructured human consciousness and human society. “Technologies are not mere exterior aids,” Ong explains, “but also interior transformations of consciousness, and never more than when they affect the word.” Literate society was not simply the old society of primary orality with the added advantage of writing, but in many respects a new society. The advent of electronic media was similarly consequential, inaugurating what we think of as the age of mass media in the twentieth century. Now we find ourselves thrust into an era dominated by the effects of digital media. We can’t yet know the full ramifications of this transition, but, taking a cue from some of Ong’s insights, we can begin to make some pertinent observations, particularly with respect to the character of digital discourse.

more here.

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