Memory and Digital Orality

“Fortunately, literacy, though it consumes its own oral antecedents and, unless it is carefully monitored, even destroys their memory, is also infinitely adaptable. It can restore their memory, too. Literacy can be used to reconstruct for ourselves, the pristine human consciousness which was not literate at all.” (Orality and Literacy. 15).

This is the continuation of the discussion on memory (see post on 11.13.2007) and how literacy can kill it (since we no longer have to remember so much, but can merely write it down for later recall). Ong also presents the converse in that literacy can enhance the memory.

This too, is something that digital orality can do: it can destroy memory in the sense that viewers can become dependent on the file as recallable (so they do not have to remember all of the full content). It can, of course, also be used as a tool to enhance memory through repetition, engaging content and design, and other visual prompts and inclusions. However, it can create a sort of new type of memory. The idea of a new memory type is partly relevant to organization, such as where files are located, how deep, where to find them again, etc. It also has to do with the new ways we use our minds to interpret the digital orality that we experience.

At this point, I also wish to consider memory as the Canon of Memory. For example, what about the creation of podcasts? To what extent do authors consider memory when creating files? My general guess would be very few make any such decisions consciously, yet there are certain decisions made in this regard on a more subconscious level. The aspect of podcast creation (invention) that includes memory also includes steps, such as making prompts and other mnemonic devices to help one get through a speech successfully. This also opens up the conversation about memory in regard to computer (storage) memory. This point is not so misplaced in this discussion as would first appear. One definitely needs to consider memory in creation of the document. In some ways, this might even tie into organization. I will expound on this point very soon.

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