Medium is the Message

Thousands of years have passed since our culture invented an alphabet to allow spoken words to be permanently recorded. This 'great leap' from orality to literacy had many consequences that will be discussed here. However, many other technologies have come into existence since the alphabet was invented and it has been suggested that we have moved beyond a stage of basic literacy into a new kind of 'post-literacy' or 'secondary orality' (Ong 1982), brought about by these new technologies. This essay will look at the differences between an oral culture and a literate one, describe the effects of literacy upon society, and look at technological breakthroughs, such as the Gutenberg press and ...

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of each. An oral culture is one in which all communication is by talking and listening.

The fact that there is no means of writing anything down means that all values and morals of the given society are stored in the minds of the people.

As cultural knowledge is so deeply embedded into stories and ritual the concept of knowledge actually existing as a separate entity is non-existent in an oral society. Walter Ong (1982) says that in these kinds of societies knowledge is performed through the telling of stories and the carrying out of rituals.

There is no separation of the 'knower from the known' (Havelock 1976). The myths and folktales of the village storyteller do not have a script, this would be an oral version of literacy, they are recreated anew with each performance. There simply is no 'text' apart from each individual incarnation of each tale.

The performer of a tale is combining an act of creation with an act of transmission. His primary work is to ...

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and many hundreds of pictures are needed to record a lot of information. It was the invention of the Greek alphabet in the fifth century BC that marks the beginnings of literate society in Europe. This is because the Greek alphabet uses twenty six meaningless symbols to reproduce the sounds of words on a page, meaning anything that can be spoken can be easily written down and recorded forever. According to some observers (Mcluhan 1962, Havelock 1976 and Ong 1982) the invention of the phonetic alphabet has incredibly significant effects on the creation and communication of knowledge in the society that possesses this tool. As things can now be written down and recorded forever the ...

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Medium is the Message. (2017, December 4). Retrieved January 20, 2019, from
"Medium is the Message.", 4 Dec. 2017. Web. 20 Jan. 2019. <>
"Medium is the Message." December 4, 2017. Accessed January 20, 2019.
"Medium is the Message." December 4, 2017. Accessed January 20, 2019.
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Added: 12/4/2017 11:03:31 AM
Submitted By: doodtim
Category: Social Issues
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 2345
Pages: 9

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