Contributor(s)Macquarie University. Department of Linguistics
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AbstractMany people who write about information technology draw a parallel between the introduction of the printing press in 15 th century Europe and the introduction of the computer. The parallel is based on the notion that technological revolutions entail rapid and far-reaching social change that is the inevitable result of the introduction of a major new technology. In this view, changes in the technologies of literacy affect literacy practices and communities: The transformation from an oral culture to a literate one reshaped consciousness; the introduction of alphabetic writing in Ancient Greece transformed Greek thought; the invention of the printing press moved the power of scholar-priests to more democratic institutions and promoted individualism, nationalism, and secularism. Scholars thus claim that the introduction of the computer will inevitably result in a different social consciousness of what literacy is and how it functions in individuals and society. This common view does not reflect the realities of history. Technologies themselves did not cause changes such as the Reformation. Changes result from mutually influencing social and technological factors: New technologies like the printing press merely facilitated changes already beginning to take place.