Monday, September 5, 2011

Secondary Literacy

I use the term "Secondary Literacy" to describe the cultural transformation being wrought by our interaction with the Internet. With a nod to Walter J. Ong, I am suggesting that the literacy demands of the Internet have required denizens of our Secondary Orality culture to revisit some of the tropes of primary literacy. This new type of literacy is shaped by influences of the electronic media just as Secondary Orality was not quite the same as Primary Orality.
If generations prior to my parents learned to read before they learned to attend to electronic media, and if my generation and generations going forward first learned to attend to electronic media before we learned to read, what of the generation that learns via web-connected computers before formal training in literacy?

I don't know exactly what the implications of the new literacy will be, but I think if we can look to changes in belief structures, balance of human senses, even neural brain mapping in the switch from Primary Literacy to Secondary Orality, we can begin to search for similar transformations as our culture moves to Secondary Literacy.

1 comment:

Mike Plugh said...

I like where you're going. I think there's a fine, blurry line between Secondary Orality and Secondary Literacy and I'm not sure where one ends and the other begins. Twitter has a conversational, almost real time quality, but is limited by the abstraction of electronic print. Of all the digital environments, it seems to stand the closest to whatever line exists between the two. Blogs move closer to traditional literacy. Good stuff to chew on.