Redundant or Copius – Backlooping

“Thought requires some sort of continuity. Writing establishes in the text a ‘line’ of continuity outside the mind. If distraction confuses or obliterates from the mind the context out of which emerges the material I am now reading, the context can be retrieved by glancing back over the text selectively. …. In oral discourse, the situation is different. There is nothing to backloop into outside the mind, for the oral utterance has vanished as soon as it is uttered.” (Orality and Literacy, 39).

Ong’s point in this passage is certainly true. The written passage allows readers to backloop to reread any section if they did not understand it or even if their minds wandered while reading. Such an ability to retrieve or re-experience the content is not possible in a live setting, short of requesting the speaker repeat the seemingly lost statement or section (a condition rarely possible in a public setting).

However, the communication methods in digital orality replace this downfall. The content and context both are received orally, yet the listener can stop, rewind, and replay to backloop and (re)experience the event. The process even has an additional level of ease and control in the digital realm, since the viewer can click a specific spot in the status bar or even slide it along. In this latter action, a video will generally display the content moving at a very rapid pace as the viewer pans through, thus assisting him or her in find a specific spot in the film. In this way, one can see some visual cue (both on-screen and in the status bar) of where he or she left off.

Unlike the conditions of a primarily oral culture, with the knowledge that the listener can backloop, the digital orality speaker has no need for repetition, although this construct might be applied anyway to help stress the importance of a point.

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