Aa is for Apple, Bb is for Bear …
I’ve been mulling recently about how communication changes over time. I daresay it’s something that comes up every now and again, but I’m wondering exactly how cyclical it really is. Writing as a mode of communication dates back pretty far, I’m told. A quick Google search brings up some symbols people think date back to 3000BC, as well as a couple of new findings being dated to 6000 BC. Disputed dating systems aside, I don’t think I’ll get much argument if I state that writing isn’t anything new.
While writing has been around for a while, it hasn’t always been terribly accessible. There are various periods in history where, because of oppression or the fact that there were more pressing needs, many people never learned to read and / or write. There are still various countries in the world where reading is not the norm, and it only takes a couple of minutes to read pages on the National Institute for Literacy and find that there are quite a few people who think that we in the US aren’t doing so well, either.
Before this turns into a dissertation on literacy, let’s think about other modes of communication. Obviously we have speaking, person to person and face to face. My personal experience tends to quantify this as the most common mode of communication. Aside from that, though, we have gestures, pictures, and voice over some type of transporter. Notice that I am speaking of direct, conscious, intentional communication. I’m not trying to get into body language or anything quite so deep.
Over the years since writing became more widespread, people have also developed the telephone, by which means we can hear each other speaking, and there’s no need to write it down, and the video, where we can both see and hear. I think it’s interesting, though, that there seems to be a trend back towards writing, at least among the technologically-minded around the globe. Email, chatting, and blogging seem to be assisting this — how should I put it — redistribution. Writing may never have completely gone out of style, and we’re not going to cease telephone and video anytime soon, but I have been thinking about how the Internet itself seems to promote the mode of communication which demands both literacy and legibility.
If I can’t write, you can’t read it. And if you can’t read, my writing is pointless. Unless I plan to read it later, of course. Depending on how clearly I write, the number of people who can understand me will grow or diminish. The lower the vocabulary level of the people reading, the less they’ll be able to decipher. It seems a pretty precarious balance, at times.
Well, so much for my recent thoughts. I’m interested in hearing from people who actually know about this subject, or even just have new points of view. Give me a holler! Or write something. Then I can read it.