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Letters and the orality vs. literacy debate: implications for online interactions

Author: Fayard, Anne-Laure ; Metiu, AncaINSEAD Area: Organisational Behaviour Series: Working Paper ; 2006/55/OB Publisher: Fontainebleau : INSEAD, 2006.Language: EnglishDescription: 31 p.Type of document: INSEAD Working Paper Online Access: Click here Abstract: Current communicative practices are in a state of flux that has prompted much inquiry into their abilities to sustain strong relationships and new idea formation. We suggest that the old tension between orality and literacy offers a productive way to understand current communicative practices. Until recently in human history, faraway people communicated via letters - which have features of both orality and literacy. An analysis of the correspondences of several philosophers, writers, and scientists demonstrates letters' ability to convey ideas, emotions, and to build strong communities. Our findings also allow us to offer a better understanding of the contradictory findings on the abilities of various communication technologies, as well as the emergent gray area where writing and orality meet and borrow features from each other.
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Current communicative practices are in a state of flux that has prompted much inquiry into their abilities to sustain strong relationships and new idea formation. We suggest that the old tension between orality and literacy offers a productive way to understand current communicative practices. Until recently in human history, faraway people communicated via letters - which have features of both orality and literacy. An analysis of the correspondences of several philosophers, writers, and scientists demonstrates letters' ability to convey ideas, emotions, and to build strong communities. Our findings also allow us to offer a better understanding of the contradictory findings on the abilities of various communication technologies, as well as the emergent gray area where writing and orality meet and borrow features from each other.

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