From COML 509: Social Dynamics of Communication Technology @ Gonzaga University, Spring 2009. Thoughts on chapter 4, Writing Restructures Consciousness, from Walter Ong’s Orality and Literacy:
“Technologies are not mere exterior aids but also interior transformations of consciousness, and never more than when they affect the word.” (Ong, 1982, p 82) I was with him on the first part, but at the end when he says “never more than when they affect the word” I was less in agreement. Really, I think it is when technologies affect thought and action that they are most transformative, and words can be a part of that action. Maybe I’m getting too abstract here, but we don’t always think in words. Babies start off in what is known as pre-verbal state, yet they act and express. And even as we age, thoughts and feelings precede the words that are meant to represent them. We just choose words very often to express those thoughts. I don’t think the word is the sole highest priority for technology to transform our consciousness.