Media erosion and sedimentation

A theory of language and society — still in progress

As a big fan of media ecology, I like to use nature and our universe as a comparison tool. Well, really I use it to compare most things. We want to be special snowflakes, but we aren’t. Rare maybe, but unique — don’t think so.

Once my brain started to think about literacy & orality, I really did bump up against primary and secondary orality. The hard and aggressive arrow of time and superiority of literacy over orality wreaks of the downfalls of history. I agree we can never reset and go back. That evolutionary principles mean it can’t be the same. The journey will always change us but, it can be a close approximation.

I was watching Magic School Bus on Netflix, the new one, with my son. The episode was on the cycle of erosion and sediment. What if a society’s primary, or dominant, medium of language follows similar cycles. Literacy, Orality, and a future unknown, become a cycle that can erode and build. In turn, influencing and changing society in the subtlest of ways at each moment/level of erosion or sedimentation.

In this light, the cultural observations of an oral society put forth by Ong can come back, and I believe are showing signs. We aren’t delving into the darkness of illiteracy but there are erosions of our literate lives and sedimentation of oral ones. Our technology is now advanced enough to talk to and have a conversation with. Something I’m not sure our forefathers of media thought could have fully comprehended.