- Orality and Online Writing
- Reading, Writing, and Rearranging
- Scribes and Scribbles
- From Print to Screen
- Electronic Writing and Digital Media
Marshall McLuhan famously used the metaphor of the rearview mirror to describe our inability to predict the future. We typically depict time in spatial terms, as a road that we travel along, moving into the future, but in reality we do not and cannot know what lies ahead of us, we can only see clearly where we already have been. So in effect we are walking backwards into the future. Having been called a prophet, McLuhan noted that a prophet is someone who can tell you what is going on right now, in the present, because everyone else is fixated on the past.
McLuhan also noted that many of our problems stem from trying to solve present-day problems with yesterday's solutions, or just trying to do today's job with yesterdays tools (or yesterday's job with today's tools).
And he suggested that the content of a medium is always another medium. This is not to deny the fact that there is plain old content as well. But there is a sense in which the content of writing is speech, writing being a technology developed to record the spoken word. And the content of printing is the handwritten word, the manuscript. In fact, the first printed books, in the early years following Gutenberg's innovation, all were purposefully made to resemble the products of scribal copying. After all, that's all they knew. It took time to develop typefaces that took advantage of the unique capabilities of the printing press, typefaces that vastly improved the legibility of the text, allowing for faster reading speeds. Think of the differences between Gothic fonts, and the clear, clean look of the Roman fonts we commonly use as a default.