Littera Deusto

Modern Languages, Basque Studies and Humanities

Orality and writing in hypermedia (2)

noviembre 28th, 2008 · No hay Comentarios

Paraphrasing has its value too~


Walter J. Ong, well known for his studies in oral and written communication, coined the term “secondary orality”, describing it as “essentially a more deliberate and self-conscious orality, based permanently on the use of writing and print” [1].

Ong calls the electronic age an age of secondary orality. These are the main aspects to be taken into account:

  1. Electronic text is multisensory. Words are often displaced by images or videos, which enhance the ways a message can be transmited. This makes the interchange closer to oral communication, which couldn’t happen with printed books.
  2. The solitary experience of either writing or reading the printed page encourages distance and impartiality. On the other hand, electronic text and oral text are both flexible: With hypermedia, “the reader participates in calling forth and defining the text of each particular reading”[2].
  3. The value given to authorship diminishes. Internet projects such as the wikis require a large number of collaborators to work while getting no credit. These type of sites are spreading, and return us to the anonymity characteristic of primary orality.

Quoting Brenda Danet, specialist in communication on the Internet: “Although we are just beginning to research the issues involved, it already appears that a new ‘orality’ is emerging in digital writing, which may result in a culture which places far less value on originality, and more on an ambiance of ‘togetherness’ based on community of interest among fragmented subgroups dispersed in place and time.”

[1]. ^ Walter J. Ong in Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (1982).
[2]. ^ Bolter in Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext and the History of Writing (1991).

  • Orality, Literacy, Digitality. (1996, August 15). In Constructivism at work, by Nick Lilly. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  • Secondary orality. (2008, September 8). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  • Orality and Hypertext: An interview with Ted Nelson. (1996). In Cyberspace Report by Jim Whitehead. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  • Oral/Literate/Hypertext. (1994). In Bob Fowler’s Home Page by Robert M. Fowler. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  • The Prehistory of Cyberelectronic Language(s). (2003). In Hypermedia Joyce Studies by Donald F. Theall. Retrieved November 12, 2008.


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