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Canada (161,714)
MDSA02H3 (54)
Ted Petit (37)
Chapter 1

MDSA02 – CHAPTER 1: Writing

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Media Studies
Ted Petit

MDSA02 – CHAPTER 1: Writing Advantages of writing:  Stores transmittable knowledge; not limited to memory; Can travel distances/shared; Can withstand generations and centuries; Powerful tool over individuals with illiteracy Oral Cultures  Oral cultures bases itself on two-way restricted info – human dimension and human limitation  Writing splits thought from action  Knowledge in oral cultures is passed down through generations by stories; wisdom passed by elders,  Written language undergirds most of civilization, yet there have always been societies without writing – most ancient world remained illiterate (oral culture served most people) The Beginnings  Paintings date back to caves; more recent alphabetic markings that western cultures identify as writing are diff than drawing bc they led to the phonetic system of representing sounds that are spoken language.  It may’ve begun as physical tokens representing numbers and goods o ex. Storing info in the form of molded clay objects began about 8000 BCE in summer – one theory holds that over many centuries, triangles, spheres, cones and other tokens were molded to represent sheep, measures of grain, + other pocessions; these tokens kept track of goods for the purpose of pooling and redistributing a community’s resources (theory not held true by scholars)  Need for record expanded – math was born; symbols indicated different quantities of something  Logograms emerged (written symbols that represented meaning) – these scratches were true writing, the representation of what someone might say The Role of Priests  Writing became sacred – priests, the keepers of the mysteries of gods, found writing as a natural fit for themselves  Keeping records allowed them to inventory food stocks, predict weather cycles  They guarded the skill, they were aware it conferred authority  Priests chose the task of teaching selected youths. Scribal cultures developed – priests educated boys in temple schools (denying others)  From the ranks of school came an aristocratic class, public admin and priests  Literacy + education, and mediated communication, gave them advantage “the learned man rules himself”  Socrates: the first to observe how media change us, he called writing “inhumane” for when confronted w/ a contrary point of view, text is mute – h/w writing has prevailed Alphabets  Linguist Amalia Gnanadesikan developed the first true alphabet calling it a “dumbed down version of writing for the illiterate”  The first true alphabet may’ve emerged about 4000 yrs ago somewhere in Egypt; copper mine managers or military officers could learn the alphabet  According to the bible, Moses brought down more than the commands for righteous conduct, but also the very words of God, in a form unfamiliar to the ppl gathered below o Media ecologist Robert K.Logan, if one believes that the sight of gods speech was given as marks on tablets convinced idol worshippers to reform their ways, Logans theory would seem to be early evidence of the potential of media to effect change The Greeks  The Phoenicians brought the alphabet to the Hellenic world, which spread over centuries 1  The Greeks added vowels and simplified it  The Illiad and Odyssey, epic poems of Homer, based on tales that had been repeated orally were written down  From this came intellectual, artistic and political ideas – an intellectual revolution conveyed by literacy  During classical age, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle developed the literate basis of modern thinking (thoughts, legacy, satisfying human desire) Greeks Accomplishments  The Greeks separated mankind and human accomplishments from the world around them, regarding nature as a separate entity worthy of study  Greek scholars wrote of philosophy, science, history, metaphysics; plays of both tragic and comedy  Writing helped the Greeks govern themselves , to conceive of objectivity, separating the knower from what is known - it was the gateway to the scientific method, log and analysis  Scrolls carrying fresh ideas circulated with help of trading ships (first information highway)  More than any previous civilization, the Greeks used written language to create different kinds of expertise; they became the teachers (source of much of the world’s culture), knowledge and education  Aristotle, showed Egyptians how to set up proper libraries instead of mere collection books  Thanks to the Greek teachers and Greek thought, a growing literacy enriched the Roman Empire – 1 daily news reports on waxed wood tablets; throughout the empire, there were public and private libraries, became very very common  Aristotle: education in Greek world would be based on reading, not simply listening to lectures, because of Aristotle. His library began collections that would carry info for generations to come. Math, medicine, physics etc all advanced bc he wrote and stored info on transportable medium of papyrus  Scribes: worlds first formal education system involving the training of scribes; slaves fortunate enough to make them considered themselves more intellegience (gave them skills beyond capacity of some mas
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