{Week 3} Writing: The Artificial Speech

The idea of technology is diverse in the human population. Many people overlook technological advancements due to their commonality in today’s modern world. When this happens, it causes a split in the agreement for these technologies to be considered a technology. The argument that writing is not a technology is invalid and the boom of technology in this world has rooted itself in the domestication of the human race and the change of the human conscious.

Generally people wouldn’t consider writing to be a categorized as a technology. In Orality and Literacy Ong states “we find it difficult to consider writing to be a technology as we commonly assume printing and the computer to be” (80). Modern technology has morphed the human conscious into believing otherwise. When writing first came about, Socrates and Plato both talked about how writing was new and foreign to all of society, even to scholars such as themselves. Socrates had a particular view on writing and it’s contribution to the advancement of society. In Plato’s Phaedrus Socrates claims “he who thinks that in the written word there is necessarily much which is not serious, and that neither poetry nor prose, spoken or written, is of any great value” while going on to say “you and I, Phaedrus, would pray that we may become like him.” Socrates dismissed writing completely as any sort of important contribution to society . Ong clearly argues that writing has been overlooked as a technology because it is so widespread. Writing, considered to be of no significant value in the future of society by Socrates and Plato, is now so universal that people overlook it as a technological tool in society. In today’s world the new bright and shiny toy that all the children want to play with are computers and print. These new toys are so overpowering in our modern society, so common, that writing is deemed almost natural within humans. However, “writing is completely artificial”(81) whereas talk is natural. We have grown to think of the technology of writing as something everyone does naturally. “Talk implements conscious life but it wells up into consciousness out of unconscious depths, though of course with the conscious as well as unconscious co-operation of society” (81). Talk is so natural to human nature that one just states the first thought on his or her mind, whereas writing forces us all to think. Writing is not natural, it is a technology that is severely under appreciated due to its commonality within society.


Over time, technology changes the human consciousness, therefore changing humans and civilization as a whole. As Kelly stated, humans’ genes have coevolved with our inventions “100 times faster in the last 10,000 years than the average rate for the previous six million years” (Kelly 37). However, this is not necessarily a good advancement. Modern technology has morphed the human conscious into taking writing and its value for granted. We have “shrinking teeth” and “thinner muscles” and “less hair” (Kelly 37) therefore creating our own destiny and becoming incapable of life without technology. Writing has changed the course of the world for good, whether recognized as a technological tool or not. For example, writing was taboo to Socrates but now seems so natural to most humans that it is overlooked as a technology by those who are rooted into modern technologies domestication.  The more technologies created, the more humans race to conform with the trends. Drastic and rapid change in the human identity makes you wonder where we will go. Will we keep on this linear track? Will we change our destiny? Or will we even outlive our inventions? These are all questions that we must ask ourselves more often. Technology and the use of writing through tools like social media and personal devices are prime examples of what will shape the human conscious of the future.


With this in mind, it is proven that it is hard to see into the future to know what will become valuable in a culture. Therefore, as more technological advancements are happening people should consider if they truly want the future generations of the human race to use them. Additionally, people should consider if they want variations of these advancements due to the fact that ideas are constantly being built off other ideas. The human conscious is being changed by technologies; as proven by Kelly when describing that human’s genes are changing due to technologies. So, consider all technologies as becoming valuable in the future and determine if they really are valuable for the human conscious.


4 thoughts on “{Week 3} Writing: The Artificial Speech

  1. I am in total agreement with your point that technology as a whole is changing human consciousness, and our behavior. While we created technology as we evolved, technology is now influencing our evolution in return. I think it’s incredibly freighting and interesting that we created a technology that is influencing our evolution. Instead of mother nature deciding who lives and who doesn’t, we as humans are able to now have more power than mother nature. I think we as humans will change our destiny, as we are already doing that with various technologies. For example, we dream in color, but the people who grew up with black and white TV are more likely to dream in black and white. Another interesting thing I found was that people are experiencing phantom phone syndrome, where people think there phone is ringing when it’s not. You can look at where I found these examples here: http://mashable.com/2014/03/14/tech-brains-neuroplasticity/#ZjiOMGtorEq6 . Frankly, I think this will lead to technology where we will be able to alter our evolution and genetics. We are already influencing our genetics now, and there are probably plenty of people would love to alter genetics intentionally. I think a few hundred years in the future, the human brain will be rapidly different due to the technologies that are influencing us. Each generation would process information and media differently a few years from now, and would be wildly different from us. I think that human interference that will result in this change overall, and in result, changing the human consciousness.

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  2. There seem to be two related but somewhat distinct arguments here. The first has to do with a lack of recognition on the part of Plato/Socrates of the value of writing; the second seems to be about the ways technologies (like writing) change our consciousness. The latter is a key point Ong encourages his readers to understand throughout the two chapters we read, and as such would be a restatement of Ong (though linking the discussion back to Kelly is a solid move). The former is intriguing, but where can we take that insight? Does it simply show us how even well-regarded scholars can be wrong sometimes? Or that it is hard to see into the future to know what will become valuable in a culture? Or that we should be careful today to condemn new media since even Plato/Socrates made such important errors? Or something else?

    Keep working on this, and in the next draft, focus on bringing the entire piece together in a more coherent way under a single thesis that not only recounts/summarizes a reading, but takes us in a new, critical direction from it.


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