epics and oral traditions

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at cco.caltech.edu
Fri Jun 6 19:15:07 UTC 1997

>   	These are excellent case studies of specific variables. It seems to me,
> however, that problems come in when one argues that compositional
> technology **determines** cognitive and social significance. To claim that
> a particular tool or technique of memory or writing will ALWAYS have
> certain social and cognitive effects is where one runs into trouble.

It seems to me that as far as studying the past is concerned, one can find
specific examples both for and against this. But the future is a different
cup of tea. 

A friend of mine at Caltech envisages a future where voice recognition,
pattern recognition and language translation technologies are so advanced
that one can do away with keyboards and speak to a computer. This is a
favorite theme of sci-fi movies. This colleage is concerned that such
technology, in addition to promoting a dull conformity to some industry
standard, could breed a society where most people will slowly lose both
the ability to write and the ability to commit things to memory. Given the
great reliance that people place on computers even in today's society,
such an argument does have its merits.


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