Legends on the Net: An Examination of Computer-Mediated Communication as a Locus of Oral Culture

February 7th, 2010

Fernback, Jan. “Legends on the Net: An Examination of Computer-Mediated Communication as a Locus of Oral Culture.” New Media & Society 5 1 (2003): 29-45.

“The potential of the internet as an(sic) medium of orality is worth of scholarly reflection.” (pg. 30.).

This statement is unquestionably accurate. However, real-time textual chat modes–a medium the author selects as the data source for her scholarly reflection–do not constitute a form of orality. As I have argued a number of times, while such communication forms are highly conversational, they cannot be considered oral communication, since they are not oral. To claim such is to break with the structure that Walter Ong (who Fernback cites heavily in this article) put forth to explain the ways that orality and literacy interact and differ. I will acknowledge the root of her study, however, that the Internet is a place where cultural folklore can be passed on, a process that was traditionally transferred orally.

Fernback’s largely addresses the changes that can occur when a communication type traditionally delivered through one conversational mode is now remediated through a different communication mode. Read the rest of this entry »