In our labs division, we define, design, and build in the transitional space between the digitally possible and the manifest. And, at this moment, this realm is rich.
Before books, there were still stories. Stories in the pre-literate world were fundamentally different than written stories. Oral traditions house fluid stories told face-to-face in social contexts. Storytellers weren’t authors, but rather stewards of creative repetitions. This period of orality was starkly disputed by the evolution and eventual dominate of print culture. Print culture emphasizes authority, fixity, and consumption while socially isolated. There was some notable push-back to this transformation.
Plato, for examples, steps up with this:
“If men learn [writing], it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks. What you have discovered is a recipe not for memory, but for reminder. And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they know nothing, and as men filled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellows.”
I discuss Plato and his fellow early print resistors in the Ancient Marginalia postYesterday's Naysayers. While these folks were clearly backing the wrong historical horse, they did have a point. There is something beautiful and powerful about the elements of oral storytelling. Hell, this form of information transmission was dominant for some 240,000 years.
And now it’s back.
As books slip into the digital stream, storytelling may regain a fluid and social aspect. Breaking the bonds of page and paper (elements that book scholars call ‘paratext’) allows stories to slip into a new orality . The details and possibilities of this exciting moment in story evolution are outlined in a chapter I recently published inExamining Paratextual Theory and its Applications in Digital Culture. That chapter is called Post-Book Paratext: Designing for Haptic Harmony. Check it out - let me know what you think: Post-book Paratext
Facilitated by the possibilities of digital, this ‘secondary orality’ will be designed and implemented by today’s interaction designers, artists, and entrepreneurs.
And by Neologic Labs.