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Lecture 1

Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Joshua Foer, Proverb, Orality

Media, Information and Technoculture
Course Code
MIT 2000F/G
Daniel Robinson

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Lecture 1 Oral Society
Relationship between memory/writing and social life
Our memory today is not as good as it would have been years ago, before technology.
Writing to present/future self
o "personal time capsules" ex. Video: Grownups read things they wrote as kids.
o We're less likely to keep diaries now.
o Who we were then versus now can be determined and seen through our writing.
Memory Palace
o Simonides of Ceos, 5th century BC (Survivor of a banquet hall collapse, had to try to
remember who was inside who may have died.)
o Memory Palace; This event coined this term.
o Keep certain memories in a different "room" in one's brain,
o Peter of Revenna: Italian tourist, talked about the memory palaces he kept in his brain. Would
look into the specific chamber and pull out that memory.
Memory: Spatial, Visual
o Better at remembering physical, visual, or spatial things as opposed to names, numbers, etc.
Ex. Easier to remember a face rather than someone's name.
o (book) Joshua Foer: Moonwalking with Einstein; come up with visual images to corresponds
with names, numbers, etc.
Epic poems of Rajasthan, India
Oral tradition
Bhopas: illiterate, learned poems through various memorization techniques. Go from village to
village, reciting poems that have been passed through generations.
Literacy diminishes memorization
Epic Poems
o Mahabharata (takes days to recite the poems).
o Thousands of stanzas long
Oral Society
Words as evanescent "events"
o Hebrew: "dabar" ("word" and "event")
Power of spoken word
o Language as mode of action
o Memory/knowledge
o Being able to communicate things at the right time, communicate messages
Cognitive structure/way of thinking
Oral Society and Recall
How do spoken words become memorable thoughts?
Mnemonics and Formulas
o Rhyme, proverb, alliteration
Serious thought requires memory systems
Experience intellectualized mnemonically
"Know what you can recall"
Oral Traditions
Rich in metaphor
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