MIT 2000 Reading Summaries: Havelock, Eisenstein, Carey

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Western University
Media, Information and Technoculture
Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G
Daniel Robinson

September 22, 2011 Reading Summaries From “The Literate Revolution in Greece and Its Cultural Consequences” EricA. Havelock (p.10-15) This reading focuses on the significance of the invention of the alphabet and how it changed society. Havelock believed that with the invention of the alphabet came the invention of literacy. The world moved farther away from being an oral society because of the alphabet. Memorization became less important because they could easily refer back to what they had written/read if they forgot something about it. Ideas could be written down, preserved, and taught to future generations. To Havelock, this ability to preserve was the most important use of the alphabet. Havelock also goes into some of the disadvantages of the early alphabet, i.e. the alphabet could not be standardized because everyone had different handwriting (“Calligraphy… [became] the enemy of literacy”) and it was not used much until paper became readily available. “The Rise of the Reading Public” Elizabeth Eisenstein (p.16-20) In this reading Eisenstein explains how literacy changed society from a “hearing public” to a “reading public”. Areading public is more individualistic than a hearing one because a hearing public requires more social interaction between people around you (e.g. gathering together to hear the news at a church sermon). With newspapers people could read silently and alone to get the same information. There was a “weakening of local community ties” because people were not forced to spend as much time with each other. But the weakening of local ties brought a strengthening of distant ties. In a hearing p
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