This is where most of the futur ists got it wrong — the impact of radio, tele vision, and the tele phone weren’t going to be solely or even pri mar ily on more and more speech, but, for tech ni cal or cul tural or who-knows-exactly-what reasons, on writ ing! We didn’t give up writ ing — we put it in our pock ets, took it out side, blended it with sound, pic tures, and video, and sent it over radio waves so we could “talk” to our friends in real-time. And we used those same radio waves to down load books and news pa pers and every thing else to our screens so we would have some thing to talk about.
This is the thing about lit er acy today, that needs above all not to be mis un derstood. Both the peo ple who say that reading/writing have declined and that reading/writing are stronger than ever are right, and wrong. It’s not a return to the word, unchanged. It’s a lit er acy trans formed by the exis tence of the electronic media that it ini tially has noth ing in com mon with. It’s also trans formed by all the tex tual forms — mail, the news pa per, the book, the bul letin board, etc. It’s not purely one thing or another.
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